Context: Since the mid-2000s, numerous recommendation systems based on text retrieval (TR) have been proposed to support software engineering (SE) tasks such as concept location, traceability link recovery, code reuse, impact analysis, and so on. The success of TR-based solutions highly depends on the query submitted, which is either formulated by the developer or automatically extracted from software artifacts. Aim: We aim at predicting the quality of queries submitted to TR-based approaches in SE. This can lead to benefits for developers and for the quality of software systems alike. For example, knowing when a query is poorly formulated can save developers the time and frustration of analyzing irrelevant search results. Instead, they could focus on reformulating the query. Also, knowing if an artifact used as a query leads to irrelevant search results may uncover underlying problems in the query artifact itself. Method: We introduce an automatic query quality prediction approach for software artifact retrieval by adapting NL-inspired solutions to their use on software data. We present two applications and evaluations of the approach in the context of concept location and traceability link recovery, where TR has been applied most often in SE. For concept location, we use the approach to determine if the list of retrieved code elements is likely to contain code relevant to a particular change request or not, in which case, the queries are good candidates for reformulation. For traceability link recovery, the queries represent software artifacts. In this case, we use the query quality prediction approach to identify artifacts that are hard to trace to other artifacts and may therefore have a low intrinsic quality for TR-based traceability link recovery. Results: For concept location, the evaluation shows that our approach is able to correctly predict the quality of queries in 82% of the cases, on average, using very little training data. In the case of traceability recovery, the proposed approach is able to detect hard to trace artifacts in 74% of the cases, on average. Conclusions: The results of our evaluation on applications for concept location and traceability link recovery indicate that our approach can be used to predict the results of a TR-based approach by assessing the quality of the text query. This can lead to saved effort and time, as well as the identification of software artifacts that may be difficult to trace using TR.

Predicting query quality for applications of text retrieval to software engineering tasks

DE LUCIA, Andrea
2017

Abstract

Context: Since the mid-2000s, numerous recommendation systems based on text retrieval (TR) have been proposed to support software engineering (SE) tasks such as concept location, traceability link recovery, code reuse, impact analysis, and so on. The success of TR-based solutions highly depends on the query submitted, which is either formulated by the developer or automatically extracted from software artifacts. Aim: We aim at predicting the quality of queries submitted to TR-based approaches in SE. This can lead to benefits for developers and for the quality of software systems alike. For example, knowing when a query is poorly formulated can save developers the time and frustration of analyzing irrelevant search results. Instead, they could focus on reformulating the query. Also, knowing if an artifact used as a query leads to irrelevant search results may uncover underlying problems in the query artifact itself. Method: We introduce an automatic query quality prediction approach for software artifact retrieval by adapting NL-inspired solutions to their use on software data. We present two applications and evaluations of the approach in the context of concept location and traceability link recovery, where TR has been applied most often in SE. For concept location, we use the approach to determine if the list of retrieved code elements is likely to contain code relevant to a particular change request or not, in which case, the queries are good candidates for reformulation. For traceability link recovery, the queries represent software artifacts. In this case, we use the query quality prediction approach to identify artifacts that are hard to trace to other artifacts and may therefore have a low intrinsic quality for TR-based traceability link recovery. Results: For concept location, the evaluation shows that our approach is able to correctly predict the quality of queries in 82% of the cases, on average, using very little training data. In the case of traceability recovery, the proposed approach is able to detect hard to trace artifacts in 74% of the cases, on average. Conclusions: The results of our evaluation on applications for concept location and traceability link recovery indicate that our approach can be used to predict the results of a TR-based approach by assessing the quality of the text query. This can lead to saved effort and time, as well as the identification of software artifacts that may be difficult to trace using TR.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4693151
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