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Test-Driven Goal-Directed Debugging in Spreadsheets

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Executive Summary

The authors present an error-detection and -correction approach for spreadsheets that automatically generates questions about input/output pairs and, depending on the feedback given by the user, proposes changes to the spreadsheet that would correct detected errors. This approach combines and integrates previous work on automatic test-case generation and goal-directed debugging. The authors have implemented this method as an extension to MS Excel. They carried out an evaluation of the system using spreadsheets seeded with faults using mutation operators. The evaluation shows among other things that up to 93% of the first-order mutants and 98% of the second-order mutants were detected by the system using the automatically generated test cases.

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