Unit Testing Equals The Forgotten Tests

Published by

Today I wanted to cover something that is not often covered when unit testing an object. If an object has the Equals method overridden, then there are a number of tests that we should be running as a minimum

, these are:

  • Reflexive Tests
  • Symmetric Tests
  • Transitive Tests
  • Consistency Tests
  • Not-Null Tests

Reflexive Tests

A reflexive test is one where an object is equal to itself. In other words, the following expression should be true: x.Equals(x).

[Test]
public void ReflexiveTest()
{
    var x = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(x));
}

Symmetric Tests

A symmetric test is one where an object (x) is equal to another instance (y), only if the second instance (y) is also equal to the first instance (x). In essence, if x.Equals(y) then y.Equals(x) should also be true.

[Test]
public void SymmetricTest()
{
    var x = new TestClass();
    var y = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
    Assert.IsTrue(y.Equals(x));
}

Transitive Tests

A transitive tests is one where if object x is equal to y, and y is equal to z, then x should also be equal to z.

[Test]
public void TransitiveTest()
{
    var x = new TestClass();
    var y = new TestClass();
    var z = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
    Assert.IsTrue(y.Equals(z));
    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(z));
}

Consistency Tests

A consistent test should ensure that regardless of how many invocations of the Equals method occurs, the result should remain the same. For example, both of the following tests should pass:

[Test]
public void ConsistencyTest_2Invocations()
{
    var x = new TestClass();
    var y = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
}

[Test]
public void ConsistencyTest_3Invocations()
{
    var x = new TestClass();
    var y = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
    Assert.IsTrue(x.Equals(y));
}

Not-Null Tests

If the Equals method is called with a null argument, the result of the test should always be false. This is because an instance of an object is never equal to a null reference.

[Test]
public void NullTest()
{
    var x = new TestClass();

    Assert.IsFalse(x.Equals(null));
}

Other notes about overriding Equals

  • If you override Equals(), ensure that you override GetHashCode() as well.
    • If two objects are equal, then they must return the same value for GetHashCode()
    • If GetHashCode() is equal, it is not necessary for them to be the same; this is a collision and Equals() should be called to see if the objects are equal in reality
  • If possible, always implement the IEquatable<T> interface on your custom objects as this provides type safety for other programmers and prevents boxing on value-types.