SANER 2018

2018 IEEE 25th International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering (SANER), March 20-23, 2018, Campobasso, Italy

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Technical Research Papers
Aula Magna
Detecting Faulty Empty Cells in Spreadsheets
Liang Xu, Shuo Wang, Wensheng Dou, Bo Yang, Chushu Gao, Jun Wei, and Tao Huang
(University at Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Institute of Software at Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; North China University of Technology, China)
Preprint
Abstract: Spreadsheets play an important role in various business tasks, such as financial reports and data analysis. In spreadsheets, empty cells are widely used for different purposes, e.g., separating different tables, or default value “0”. However, a user may delete a formula unintentionally, and leave a cell empty. Such ad-hoc modification may introduce a faulty empty cell that should have a formula. We observe that the context of an empty cell can help determine whether the empty cell is faulty. For example, is the empty cell next to a cell array in which all cells share the same semantics? Does the empty cell have headers similar to other non-empty cells’? In this paper, we propose EmptyCheck, to detect faulty empty cells in spreadsheets. By analyzing the context of an empty cell, EmptyCheck validates whether the cell belong to a cell array. If yes, the empty cell is faulty since it does not contain a formula. We evaluate EmptyCheck on 100 randomly sampled EUSES spreadsheets. The experimental result shows that EmptyCheck can detect faulty empty cells with high precision (75.00%) and recall (87.04%). Existing techniques can detect only 4.26% of the true faulty empty cells that EmptyCheck detects.

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Time stamp: 2019-09-20T19:12:32+02:00