Software verification is a discipline of software engineering whose goal is to assure that software fully satisfies all the expected requirements.
There are two fundamental approaches to verification:
- Dynamic verification, also known as Test or Experimentation - This is good for finding bugs
- Static verification, also known as Analysis - This is useful for proving correctness of a program although it may result in false positives
Dynamic verification (Test, experimentation)
Dynamic verification is performed during the execution of software, and dynamically checks its behaviour; it is commonly known as the Test phase. Verification is a Review Process. Depending on the scope of tests, we can categorize them in three families:
- Test in the small: a test that checks a single function or class (Unit test)
- Test in the large: a test that checks a group of classes, such as
- Module test (a single module)
- Integration test (more than one module)
- System test (the entire system)
- Acceptance test: a formal test defined to check acceptance criteria for a software
- Functional test
- Non functional test (performance, stress test)
Software verification is often confused with software validation. The difference between verification and validation:
- Software verification asks the question, "Are we building the product right?"; that is, does the software conform to its specification.
- Software validation asks the question, "Are we building the right product?"; that is, is the software doing what the user really requires.
The aim of software verification is to find the errors introduced by an activity, i.e. check if the product of the activity is as correct as it was at the beginning of the activity.
Static verification (Analysis)
Static verification is the process of checking that software meets requirements by doing a physical inspection of it. For example:
- Code conventions verification
- Bad practices (anti-pattern) detection
- Software metrics calculation
- Formal verification
Verification by Analysis - The analysis verification method applies to verification by investigation, mathematical calculations, logical evaluation, and calculations using classical textbook methods or accepted general use computer methods. Analysis includes sampling and correlating measured data and observed test results with calculated expected values to establish conformance with requirements.
- IEEE: SWEBOK: Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge
- Carlo Ghezzi, Mehdi Jazayeri, Dino Mandrioli: Fundamentals of Software Engineering, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-099183-X
- Alan L. Breitler: A Verification Procedure for Software Derived from Artificial Neural Networks, Journal of the International Test and Evaluation Association, Jan 2004, Vol 25, No 4.
- Vijay D'Silva, Daniel Kroening, Georg Weissenbacher: A Survey of Automated Techniques for Formal Software Verification. IEEE Trans. on CAD of Integrated Circuits and Systems 27(7): 1165-1178 (2008)