22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE 2014), November 16–21, 2014, Hong Kong, China

Desktop Layout

Mining Software Repositories
Main Research
Hall 4-7, Chair: Thomas Zimmermann
A Large Scale Study of Programming Languages and Code Quality in Github
Baishakhi Ray, Daryl Posnett, Vladimir Filkov, and Premkumar Devanbu
(University of California at Davis, USA)
Publisher's Version
Preprint
Abstract: What is the effect of programming languages on software quality? This question has been a topic of much debate for a very long time. In this study, we gather a very large data set from GitHub (729 projects, 80 Million SLOC, 29,000 authors, 1.5 million commits, in 17 languages) in an attempt to shed some empirical light on this question. This reasonably large sample size allows us to use a mixed-methods approach, combining multiple regression modeling with visualization and text analytics, to study the effect of language features such as static v.s. dynamic typing, strong v.s. weak typing on software quality. By triangulating findings from different methods, and controlling for confounding effects such as team size, project size, and project history, we report that language design does have a significant, but modest effect on software quality. Most notably, it does appear that strong typing is modestly better than weak typing, and among functional languages, static typing is also somewhat better than dynamic typing. We also find that functional languages are somewhat better than procedural languages. It is worth noting that these modest effects arising from language design are overwhelmingly dominated by the process factors such as project size, team size, and commit size. However, we hasten to caution the reader that even these modest effects might quite possibly be due to other, intangible process factors, e.g., the preference of certain personality types for functional, static and strongly typed languages.

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Time stamp: 2019-08-18T07:07:39+02:00