NIST Software Tool

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have released an updated version of a computer system testing tool that can cut software development costs by more efficiently finding flaws.

Catching software bugs is traditionally difficult and time-consuming. According to NIST, about 50 percent of software development budgets go to testing, yet flaws in software cost the U.S. economy more than $59 billion annually. To address this issue, NIST designed the Advanced Combinatorial Testing System (ACTS), a freely available software tool.

The NIST combinatorial testing for software is based on research by NIST and generates a plan for testing combinations of two to six variables that can interact and cause errors. While studying software crashes of medical device and Web browsers, researchers determined that between 70 and 95 percent of software failures are triggered by only two variables interacting, and practically 100 percent of software failures are triggered by no more than six. In one project, NIST could test all six-way combinations with only 522 tests instead of the expected 17 billion, and yet find nearly 100 percent of the flaws.

For more information, visit this NIST web page.