Disjoint spread systems and fault location

Charles Colbourn, Bingli Fan, Daniel Horsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


When k factors each taking one of v levels may affect the correctness or performance of a complex system, a test is selected by setting each factor to one of its levels and determining whether the system functions as expected (passes the test) or not (fails). In our setting, each test failure can be attributed to at least one faulty (factor, level) pair. A nonadaptive test suite is a selection of such tests to be executed in parallel. One goal is to minimize the number of tests in a test suite from which we can determine which (factor, level) pairs are faulty, if any. In this paper, we determine the number of tests needed to locate faults when exactly one (or at most one) pair is faulty. To do this, we address an equivalent problem, to determine how many set partitions of a set of size N exist in which each partition contains v classes and no two classes in the partitions are equal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2026
Number of pages16
JournalSIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Baranyai's theorem
  • Covering array
  • Locating array
  • Sperner partition system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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