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QCSTM: A Simple State-Machine Framework for OCaml Based on QCheck

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This library implements a simple, typed state machine framework for property-based testing of imperative code. Tests are described by (a generator of) symbolic commands and two command interpreters over an abstract model and the system under test.

The library requires a recent installation of both OCaml and the QCheck framework.

State-machine frameworks for other languages include:

QCSTM takes inspiration from the commercial Erlang state machine framework from Quviq and from ScalaCheck's state machine framework.

The library is formulated as an OCaml functor. As its argument, the functor expects a module specifying 3 types:

  • cmd: the type of commands
  • state: the type of model's state
  • sut: the type of the system under test

In addition the user has to provide:

  • arb_cmd: a generator of commands. It accepts a state parameter to enable state-dependent command generation.
  • init_state and next_state: specifies the initial state and the (single-step) state transition function of the model.
  • run_cmd: interprets a command over the system under test and returns a Boolean, indicating whether the execution went well, and whether any returned value agrees with the model's result.
  • init_sut and cleanup: specificies how to initialize and clean up after the system under test.
  • precond: specifies preconditions for each command. This is useful, e.g., to prevent the shrinker from breaking invariants when minimizing counterexamples.

In return, the framework provides a generator of cmd lists (incl. a shrinker) as well as an agreement test between the model and system under test.

Installation

With opam this should be as simple as opam install qcstm.

You can also install from source assuming you have ocamlbuild, ocamlfind and a not-too-ancient qcheck installed, by issuing:

  make
  make install

To uninstall with opam just run opam remove qcstm. To uninstall from a source installation run make uninstall from the souce directory.

An example

Consider the following example (available in examples/counter.ml) that tests an int ref against a model consisting of a single int:

  open QCheck
  
  module CConf =
  struct
    type cmd =
      | Incr
      | Decr
      | Set of int
      | Deref [@@deriving show { with_path = false }]
    type state = int
    type sut = int ref
  
    let arb_cmd _ =
      let int_gen = Gen.oneof [Gen.int; Gen.nat] in
      QCheck.make ~print:show_cmd
        (Gen.oneof [Gen.return Incr;
                    Gen.return Decr;
                    Gen.map (fun i -> Set i) int_gen;
                    Gen.return Deref])
  
    let init_state  = 0
    let init_sut () = ref 0
    let cleanup _   = ()
  
    let next_state c s = match c with
      | Incr  -> s+1
      | Decr  -> s-1
      | Set i -> if i<>1213 then i else s (* an artificial fault *)
      | Deref -> s
  
    let run_cmd c s r = match c with
      | Incr  -> (incr r; true)
      | Decr  -> (decr r; true)
      | Set i -> (r := i; true)
      | Deref -> !r = s
        
    let precond _ _ = true
  end
  module CT = QCSTM.Make(CConf)
  ;;
  QCheck_runner.run_tests ~verbose:true [CT.agree_test ~count:10_000 ~name:"ref-model agreement"]

Here we provide a type of four different kinds of commands as well as a generator of these. init_state and init_sut specifies the initial states of both the model and the system under test.

next_state and run_cmd interpret the four different commands over the model and the system under test, respectively. Since we can only observe references through a dereferencing operation, this is the only operation comparing the outputs from the two.

To test whether the testsuite works as expected, we inject a bug in the model that ignores setting the reference when the argument is 1213.

Finally we can compile the state machine model and run the tests. Depending on the underlying random number generator, this may or may not catch the model's bug in a given run:

  $ make counter
  ocamlbuild -use-ocamlfind -package qcheck,qCSTM,ppx_deriving.show examples/counter.cma examples/counter.native
  Finished, 8 targets (3 cached) in 00:00:00.
  $ ./counter.native 
  random seed: 272260055
  generated error  fail  pass / total     time test name
  [✓] 10000     0     0 10000 / 10000     1.0s ref-model agreement
  ================================================================================
  success (ran 1 tests)
  $ ./counter.native 
  random seed: 36511368
  generated error  fail  pass / total     time test name
  [✗]  2032     0     1  2031 / 10000     1.2s ref-model agreement
  
  --- Failure --------------------------------------------------------------------
  
  Test ref-model agreement failed (14 shrink steps):
  
  [(Set 1213); Deref]
  ================================================================================
  failure (1 tests failed, 0 tests errored, ran 1 tests)

A number of additional examples are provided in the examples directory, including examples of testing OCaml code:

There are also examples of testing C code:

Finally there are a few puzzle examples where the command generator is (mis)used to search for a solution:

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A simple state-machine framework for OCaml based on QCheck

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