SANER 2017

2017 IEEE 24th International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering (SANER), February 20-24, 2017, Klagenfurt, Austria

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Program Comprehension
Main Research
Lexical Categories for Source Code Identifiers
Christian D. Newman, Reem S. AlSuhaibani, Michael L. Collard, and Jonathan I. Maletic
(Kent State University, USA; University of Akron, USA)
Abstract: A set of lexical categories, analogous to part-of-speech categories for English prose, is defined for source-code identifiers. The lexical category for an identifier is determined from its declaration in the source code, syntactic meaning in the programming language, and static program analysis. Current techniques for assigning lexical categories to identifiers use natural-language part-of-speech taggers. However, these NLP approaches assign lexical tags based on how terms are used in English prose. The approach taken here differs in that it uses only source code to determine the lexical category. The approach assigns a lexical category to each identifier and stores this information along with each declaration. srcML is used as the infrastructure to implement the approach and so the lexical information is stored directly in the srcML markup as an additional XML element for each identifier. These lexical-category annotations can then be later used by tools that automatically generate such things as code summarization or documentation. The approach is applied to 50 open source projects and the soundness of the defined lexical categories evaluated. The evaluation shows that at every level of minimum support tested, categorization is consistent at least 79% of the time with an overall consistency (across all supports) of at least 88%. The categories reveal a correlation between how an identifier is named and how it is declared. This provides a syntax-oriented view (as opposed to English part-of-speech view) of developer intent of identifiers.

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Time stamp: 2020-02-28T22:11:28+01:00