[Haskell-cafe] What is the state of the art in testing code generation?

Tom Ellis tom-lists-haskell-cafe-2013 at jaguarpaw.co.uk
Mon Jul 14 13:11:41 UTC 2014

On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 01:03:44PM -0700, Alexander Solla wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM, Tom Ellis <
> tom-lists-haskell-cafe-2013 at jaguarpaw.co.uk> wrote:
> > I am implementing an EDSL that compiles to SQL and I am wondering what is
> > the state of the art in testing code generation.
> >
> > All the Haskell libraries I could find that deal with SQL generation are
> > tested by implementing multiple one-off adhoc queries and checking that
> > when
> > either compiled to SQL or run against a database they give the expected,
> > prespecified result.
> > Is this the best we can do in Haskell?  Certainly it seems hard to use a
> > QuickCheck/SmallCheck approach for this purpose.  Is there any way this
> > kind
> > of testing can be automated or made more robust?
> >
> Personally, I would test this in the same way I'd test a compiler: as
> purely as possible.  You have an EDSL, and possibly an AST for it, and
> finally a target language.  Figure out if any one of the layers is
> particularly "shallow" (and therefore "easy" to validate by inspection).
>  Use the shallow layer to validate the other two.
> The trouble with this approach is that you'll need to find a way to
> "interpret" raw SQL statements, since different can be equivalent modulo
> ordering of fields, subqueries, conditions, etc.  So, as an architectural
> point, I would make the AST -> SQL layer the "easy" one to validate.  Then,
> you can check that your EDSL -> AST layer produces the expected trees.  You
> can even use QuickCheck for this validation.

Right, this EDSL -> AST layer is exactly what I don't know how to test.  How
would you go about doing that in a non-trivial way?  One complication is
that the EDSL is typed, making it harder to generate terms with QuickCheck
as far as I can tell.


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