Are Oracles described in any other field?

The concept of Oracles is popular in testing. Is it described in any other field such as social sciences, philosophy, other?


Could you elaborate it a bit more?

If you are meaning that a test oracle would be the same in other fields then sort of…
So in testing an oracle refers to a mechanism used to determine whether a test case has passed or failed. This can be a human or anything automated etc etc…

If you look at social science for instance, in economics, experts that provide forecasts or predictions about financial markets, economic indicators, or trends can be considered as oracles.

Think about old history movies. People/Kings tend to consult the “oracle” for knowledge about what the future would bring, if they would win the war or not. This might be a skeptic or weird but the concept is the same. Basically a “higher power” would be consulted because they were “all-knowing”

Does that sort of answer your question?


A few years ago when testers started using the oracle word, I assumed it was the classic use of the word, as is used in many other decision making disciplines. But oracles today are often a very broad source of knowledge and vague and not a specific place or person you visit anymore. So that did throw me a bit because I had previously thought of oracles as being more divine/absolute but still not as being a limited thing. “Body of knowledge” is my preferred term.


Well I guess in Philosophy there is the Oracle of Delphi! :slight_smile:


I am looking for references in other fields. Sure the concept is the same. However, did anyone else reference the concept?

Project managers have a thing called BOK - it’s basically an oracle printed on volumes of about 800 pages each. A shared record of things that do and do not work alogn with their contexts, but on paper.

Not only that, but also if we found a bug, a problem, at all. :slight_smile:
Which does not need a “case” nor passing/failing.
I would say that a “test case” is often already a somehow hardwired oracle.
Oracles a used for more than just checking correctness (by Rapid Software Testing)
To quote James Bach:
The common idea of oracles is what we might call a source of truth, or else an “authoritative” oracle.
Our idea liberates oracles from the world of output checking and binary pass/fail. We say an oracle is any means by which you recognize a bug.

So Kristofs definition is one used by some people, not all.

“So for some testers an oracle refers to …” fixed :wink:

To answer that:
By the definition above I think it is a basic of science. Maybe most science does not refers explicitly to it as it is obvious for them.
I have not looked for details.

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In my first job I became an Oracle of Delphi. These days, I mostly use Java instead.