Using n-grams to rapidly characterise the evolution of software code

Austen Rainer, Peter C. R. Lane, James A. Malcolm, Sven-Bodo Scholz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Text-based approaches to the analysis of software evolution are attractive because of the fine-grained, token-level comparisons they can generate. The use of such approaches has, however, been constrained by the lack of an efficient implementation. In this paper we demonstrate the ability of Ferret, which uses n-grams of 3 tokens, to characterise the evolution of software code. Ferret's implementation operates in almost linear time and is at least an order of magnitude faster than the diff tool. Ferret's output can be analysed to reveal several characteristics of software evolution, such as: the lifecycle of a single file, the degree of change between two files, and possible regression. In addition, the similarity scores produced by Ferret can be aggregated to measure larger parts of the system being analysed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering - Workshops, 2008
PublisherIEEE
Pages43-52
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-4244-2776-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Event23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering - Workshops - L'Aquila, Italy
Duration: 15 Sep 200816 Sep 2008

Conference

Conference23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering - Workshops
CountryItaly
CityL'Aquila
Period15/09/0816/09/08

Cite this

Rainer, A., Lane, P. C. R., Malcolm, J. A., & Scholz, S-B. (2008). Using n-grams to rapidly characterise the evolution of software code. In Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering - Workshops, 2008 (pp. 43-52). IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/ASEW.2008.4686320