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The objective of this thesis is to investigate how search-based techniques can support decision-making and help control variation in software V&V activities, thereby indirectly improving software quality. Several themes in providing this support are investigated: predicting reliability of future software versions based on fault history; fault prediction to improve test phase efficiency; assignment of resources to fixing faults; and distinguishing fault-prone software modules from non-faulty ones. A common element in these investigations is the use of search-based techniques, often also called metaheuristic techniques, for supporting the V&V decision-making processes. Search-based techniques are promising since, as many problems in real world, software V&V can be formulated as optimisation problems where near optimal solutions are often good enough. Moreover, these techniques are general optimization solutions that can potentially be applied across a larger variety of decision-making situations than other existing alternatives. Apart from presenting the current state of the art, in the form of a systematic literature review, and doing comparative evaluations of a variety of metaheuristic techniques on large-scale projects (both industrial and open-source), this thesis also presents methodological investigations using search-based techniques that are relevant to the task of software quality measurement and prediction.
The results of applying search-based techniques in large-scale projects, while investigating a variety of research themes, show that they consistently give competitive results in comparison with existing techniques. Based on the research findings, we conclude that search-based techniques are viable techniques to use in supporting the decision-making processes within software V&V activities. The accuracy and consistency of these techniques make them important tools when developing future decision support for effective management of software V&V activities.",
Doctoral Dissertation Series No. 2011:06",
Genetic Programming entries for Wasif Afzal