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EEGLAB test cases

What is a unit testing test case?

A test case is a small function call built to test a specific function call - here an EEGLAB function. We aim to have at least one test case per function, though, for many EEGLAB functions, more test cases may be required to test the whole range of available GUI and command-line options (and their combinations).

There are different types of test cases. Some test cases only test that a given function does not crash when using specific combinations of input parameters. This constitutes the majority of EEGLAB tests for functions with graphical outputs. Some other test cases run a given function and test if the output is numerically accurate.

EEGLAB test case repository

Our test cases do not cover all the possible usage of EEGLAB functions. We estimate that our 5,000 test cases cover about 10% of all possible function call variations.

Please contact us if you want to run the test cases on your server. The total size of the unit testing package above is about 2 GB. After downloading the code (perhaps to a directory/folder you name “/unittesting”), move to this folder in MATLAB and run the runlocal.m function. This will execute all the tests. At the end of the testing (usually about 15 minutes), a list of any functions that have failed will be returned. For example, if bugs have crept into two functions ‘decompresserpss’ and ‘pop_epoch’, the ‘runlocal’ output might be:

function /Users/arno/eeglab-testcases/trunk/unittesting_binary/pop_read_erpss/test_pop_read_erpss.m
    msg Error using ==> read_erpss at 245
 decompresserpss function error (see message above)
 function /Users/arno/eeglab-testcases/trunk/unittesting_general/unittesting_popfunc/pop_epoch/test_pop_epoch.m
    msg Error using ==> pop_epoch at 123
 ??? Index exceeds matrix dimensions.

You may then go to each folder containing a function that failed and call the function from the command line. For instance,

>> cd /Users/arno/eeglab-testcases/trunk/unittesting_binary/pop_read_erpss
>> test_pop_read_erpss

The function should again fail, making it possible to debug it on the spot.

Note that the sample errors above are provided as examples. All the (nearly 5,000) test cases contained in the repository have been verified to work under several versions of MATLAB running under Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

EEGLAB test case sub-repositories

Since the test case repository above is quite large (2 GB), we have separated the test cases into sub-folders that may be run independently.

  • The unittesting_common folder contains the shared code required to apply the test cases. You may then check out any of the following folders below.

  • The unittesting_general folder contains tests for all the signal processing functions in EEGLAB (90% of all tests). After downloading the folder, run the runlocal.m function contained in it.
  • The unittesting_studyfunc folder contains all the test cases for functions that deal with EEGLAB studies. Because it contains a test STUDY with anonymized data for several test subjects, this folder is larger (1.2 GB). After downloading this folder, run the runlocal.m function contained in it.
  • The unittesting_binary folder contains test cases for reading binary data files in several formats. Because it contains several anonymized binary test data files, this folder is also large (500 MB). After downloading this folder, run the runlocal function contained in it.

Adding new test cases

Contributing new test cases is useful for EEGLAB developers and the EEGLAB user community in general because unit testing helps ensure that the EEGLAB code base remains stable. You may want to add test cases for your functions or scripts to ensure they continue to give the same output. Or you may want to add test cases for functions you call with non-standard combinations of options. If you have test cases for EEGLAB functions that you might contribute to our repository, contact us at

What is an ideal test case? An ideal test case runs an EEGLAB function with some (useful) combination of input parameters and checks that the function output is correct. This might involve saving verified-to-be-correct output data in a file and comparing the test case output to the data in the file. However, as the adage goes, “some test is better than no test.” Therefore, even if your test does not yet check function output, we will be happy to add it to our test case suite. Ideally, your tests should use the same test input data provided in the test case repository or the tutorial data distributed with EEGLAB in the “sample_data” folder.

Adding EEGLAB scripts to unit testing

If you have complex scripts calling standard MATLAB and EEGLAB functions that you want to ensure will continue to be supported in future EEGLAB releases, send us the script and associated data at

To date, most test-case functions were contributed by Arnaud Delorme, Ke Tang, Andreas Romeyke, and Ronny Lindner.