Feature Location (FL) is a core software maintenance activity that aims to locate observable functionalities in the source code. Given its key role in software change, a vast array of Feature Location Techniques (FLTs) have been proposed but, as more and more FLTs are introduced, the selection of an appropriate FLT is an increasingly difficult problem. One consideration is the characteristics of the features being sought. For example, in the code associated with the feature, programmers may have named identifiers consistently, and with meaningful naming conventions, or not, and this may impact on the suitability of different FLTs. The suggestion that such characteristics matter has implicit support in the literature: An analysis of existing FLT empirical studies reveals that the system under study can often have a stronger impact on FLT performance than differing FLTs themselves. To understand this interaction between feature characteristics and FLTs better, this paper proposes a suite of feature-characteristic metrics that are hypothesized to control FLTs performance, holistically across FLTs and impacting on individual FLTs to different degrees. To evaluate the suite, a controlled experiment is performed, using 878 features, to probe the relationship between the metrics and the performance of four FTL techniques: three commonly-used techniques and one state-of-the-art technique. The evaluation is performed using four commonly used evaluation measures and extended by employing 41 other established source-code metrics as extraneous variables. Results of the empirical evaluation suggest that the feature-metric suite presented impacts FLT performance holistically, and impacts different FLTs to different degrees. Thus, this paper moves towards the more standard selection of appropriate FLTs, with respect to the prominent feature characteristics in the software systems under study, and more rigorous consideration of the features selected to compare FLTs.
|Titolo:||The Effect of Feature Characteristics on the Performance of Feature Location Techniques|
|Data di pubblicazione:||Being printed|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articoli su Rivista|