Skip to content


Subversion checkout URL

You can clone with
Download ZIP
Fetching contributors…

Cannot retrieve contributors at this time

159 lines (117 sloc) 5.85 KB


SmartCheck is a smarter QuickCheck, a powerful testing library for Haskell. The purpose of SmartCheck is to help you more quickly get to the heart of a bug and to quickly all the ways that a property fails.

SmartCheck is useful for debugging programs operating on algebraic datatypes. When a property is true, SmartCheck is just like QuickCheck (SmartCheck uses QuickCheck as a backend). When a fails, QuickCheck does two things. First, it attempts to find a minimal counterexample to the property is a robust, systematic way. (You do not need to define any custom shrink instances, like with QuickCheck.) Second, once a minimal counterexample is found, SmartCheck then attempts to generalize the failed value v by replacing the v's substructures with new values to make v', and QuickChecking each new v'. If for each new v' generated, the property also fails, we claim the property fails for any substructure replaced here (of course, this is true modulo the coverage of the tests).

SmartCheck executes in a real-eval-print loop. In each iteration, all values that have the "same shape" as the generalized value is removed from possible created tests. The loop can be iterated until a fixed-point is reached, and SmartCheck is not able to create any new values that fail the property.

A typical example

In the package there is an examples directory containing a number of examples. Let's look at the simplest, Div0.hs.

> cd SmartCheck/examples
> ghci -Wall Div0.hs

Div0 defines a toy language containing constants (C), addition (A), and division (D):

data M = C Int
       | A M M
       | D M M
  deriving (Read, Show, Typeable, Generic)

Because SmartCheck performs data-generic operations using Data.Data and GHC.Generics we have to derive Typeable, and Generic. To use GHC.Generics, you also need the following pragmas: and the single automatically-derived instance:

{-# LANGUAGE DeriveDataTypeable #-}
{-# LANGUAGE DeriveGeneric #-}

instance SubTypes M 

Let's say we have a little interpreter for the language that takes care not to divide by 0:

eval :: M -> Maybe Int
eval (C i) = Just i
eval (A a b) = do
  i <- eval a 
  j <- eval b
  return $ i + j
eval (D a b) = 
  if eval b == Just 0 then Nothing 
    else do i <- eval a 
            j <- eval b
            return $ i `div` j

Now suppose we define a set of values in M such that they won't result in division by 0. We might try the following:

divSubTerms :: M -> Bool
divSubTerms (C _)       = True
divSubTerms (D _ (C 0)) = False
divSubTerms (A m0 m1)   = divSubTerms m0 && divSubTerms m1
divSubTerms (D m0 m1)   = divSubTerms m0 && divSubTerms m1

(Can you spot the problem?)

So our property states that so long as a value satisfies divSubTerms, then we won't have division by 0:

div_prop :: M -> Property
div_prop m = divSubTerms m ==> eval m /= Nothing

Assuming we've defined an Arbitrary instance for M (just like in QuickCheck---however, we just have to implement the arbitrary method; the shrink method is superfluous), we are ready to run SmartCheck.

divTest :: IO ()
divTest = smartCheck args div_prop
  args = scStdArgs { qcArgs   = stdArgs 
                   , treeShow = PrntString }

In this example, we won't redefine any of QuickCheck's standard arguments, but it's certainly possible. the treeShow field tells SmartCheck whether you want generalized counterexamples shown in a tree format or printed as a long string (the default is the tree format).

Ok, let's try it. First, SmartCheck just runs QuickCheck:

*Div0> divTest 
*** Failed! Falsifiable (after 11 tests):  
A (A (D (A (C (-3)) (C 40)) (C 11)) (D (C (-5)) (C (-42)))) (D (A (D (C (-9)) (C 29)) (C (-23))) (A (D (C (-6)) (D (C 23) (C (-20)))) (D (D (C (-13)) (C (-35))) (D (C 0) (C (-4))))))

SmartCheck takes the output from QuickCheck and tries systematic shrinking:

*** Smart Shrinking ... 
*** Smart-shrunk value:
D (D (C (-13)) (C (-35))) (D (C 0) (C (-4)))

Ok, that's some progress! Now SmartCheck attempt to generalize this minimal counterexample:

*** Extrapolating ...
*** Extrapolated value:
forall x0 x1:

D x1 (D (C 0) x0)

Ahah! We see that for any possible subvalues x0 and x1, the above value fails. Our precondition divSubTerms did not account for the possibility of a non-terminal divisor evaluating to 0; we only pattern-matched on constants.

SmartCheck asks us if we want to continue:

Attempt to find a new counterexample? ('Enter' to continue; any character
then 'Enter' to quit.)

SmartCheck will omit any term that has the "same shape" as D x1 (D (C 0) x0) and try to find a new counterexample.

*** Failed! Falsifiable (after 13 tests):  
D (A (C 23) (C (-52))) (A (D (D (C 52) (C 72)) (D (D (D (C 28) (C (-32))) (A (C 36) (C (-85)))) (C (-32)))) (A (A (A (C (-122)) (C (-76))) (C 52)) (D (D (D (C 91) (C 98)) (D (C 122) (C 64))) (C 5))))

*** Smart Shrinking ... 
*** Smart-shrunk value:
D (D (C 52) (C 72)) (A (C (-1)) (C 1))

*** Extrapolating ...
*** Extrapolated value:
forall x0:

D x0 (A C (-1) (C 1))

We find another counterexample; this time, the divisor is an addition term.

We might ask SmartCheck to find another counterexample:


*** Extrapolating ...
*** Could not extrapolate a new value; done.

At this point, SmartCheck can't find a newly-shaped counterexample. (This doesn't mean there aren't more---you can try to increase the standard arguments to QuickCheck to allow more failed test before giving up (maxDiscard) or increasing the size of tests (maxSize). Or you could simply just keep running the real-eval-print loop.)

Jump to Line
Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.