A Dictionary to Translate Change Tasks to Source Code

At the beginning of a change task, software developers spend a substantial amount of their time searching and navigating to locate relevant parts in the source code. Current approaches to support developers in this initial code search predominantly use information retrieval techniques that leverage the similarity between task descriptions and the identifiers of code elements to recommend relevant elements. However, the vocabulary or language used in source code often differs from the one used for describing change tasks, especially since the people developing the code are not the same as the ones reporting bugs or defining new features to be implemented. In our work, we investigate the creation of a dictionary that maps the different vocabularies using information from change sets and interaction histories stored with previously completed tasks. In an empirical analysis on four open source projects, our approach substantially improved upon the results of traditional information retrieval techniques for recommending relevant code elements.

MSR2014 (PDF, 255 KB)

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