Combinatorial testing: Invalid Combinations & Output Condition

I am finally getting caught up at work after the trip to Korea and Israel. I managed to cut the lawn in the front of my house on Sunday, but still have an acre and a half in the back yard to tend to, rake some leaves, till the garden, tend to the pond, and there is probably some other stuff on the list for this weekend. In the meantime, it is time for another installment of the series on combinatorial testing.

Another reason cited by this paper calling out risks associated with pairwise testing was, “The problem, as we see it, is that the key concept of how program inputs variables interact to create outputs is missing from the pairwise testing discussion. The pairwise testing technique does not even consider outputs of the program (i.e., the definition and application of the pairwise technique is accomplished without any mention of the program’s outputs).” This statement completely surprises me because the foundational principles (heuristic) of this technique or pattern of test is that some errors result from the interaction of input variables adversely affecting a single common output condition or state. So, I wonder how testers can approach a combinatorial testing problem if they don’t know or consider the output condition or state being evaluated? Do testers really simply plug in input variables and wait to see what happens?

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