Malthus on testing is not something that you hear often. Thomas Malthus was an English cleric and scholar, who said “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”.

How does this relate to software testing and in particular, for this week, manual testing? Well if we paraphrase the Mathus’ statement a little bit we could say that the ability of people to add applications is far greater than the ability of people to keep up via testing. Add to that the necessity for regression testing of the existing applications and then the interconnections with other applications that is occurring at large speed and one can see that the possibility of the application functionality and complexity far outstripping the ability of manual testers to keep up.

A lot of people recognized this very early and proposed a variety of solutions to the problem. We will discuss those in the coming weeks with particular emphasis on Automation and Rapid Testing. Others have recognized the impossibility of keeping up and have resorted to Risk Based Testing. With very few exceptions, all testing these days is Risk Based. We accept the fact that we cannot anticipate completing everything and as a result we make a risk judgement on what is most critical to be completed. The Risk Assessment is based on a lot of assumptions and some of the assumptions are not validated thoroughly.

It is quite safe to say that Manual Testing met its Malthusian Catastrophe a long time ago. We no longer anticipate covering even a majority of the code.

Next week: Malthus on Testing – Automated
Following week: Malthus on Testing – Rapid Testing
Final Series Week: Malthus on Testing – New Paradigm. We will propose a new method or paradigm for testing that will address some of the problems.