Testing can never completely establish the correctness of computer software. Instead, it furnishes a criticism or comparison that compares the state and behaviour of the product against oracles—principles or mechanisms by which someone might recognize a problem. These oracles may include (but are not limited to) specifications, comparable products, past versions of the same product, inferences about intended or expected purpose, user or customer expectations, relevant standards, applicable laws, or other criteria.
Over its existence, computer software has continued to grow in complexity and size. Every software product has a target audience. For example, the audience for video game software is completely different from banking software. Therefore, when an organization develops or otherwise invests in a software product, it presumably must assess whether the software product will be acceptable to its end users, its target audience, its purchasers, and other stakeholders. Software testing is the process of attempting to make this assessment.
A study conducted by NIST in 2002 reports that software bugs cost the U.S. economy $59.5 billion annually. More than a third of this cost could be avoided if better software testing was performed.