Applications of natural language processing in software traceability: A systematic mapping study
A key part of software evolution and maintenance is the continuous integration from collaborative efforts, often resulting in complex traceability challenges between software artifacts: features and modules remain scattered in the source code, and traceability links become harder to recover. In this paper, we perform a systematic mapping study dealing with recent research recovering these links through information retrieval, with a particular focus on natural language processing (NLP).
Our search strategy gathered a total of 96 papers in focus of our study, covering a period from 2013 to 2021. We conducted trend analysis on NLP techniques and tools involved, and traceability efforts (applying NLP) across the software development life cycle (SDLC). Based on our study, we have identified the following key issues, barriers, and setbacks: syntax convention, configuration, translation, explainability, properties representation, tacit knowledge dependency, scalability, and data availability.
Based on these, we consolidated the following open challenges: representation similarity across artifacts, the effectiveness of NLP for traceability, and achieving scalable, adaptive, and explainable models. To address these challenges, we recommend a holistic framework for NLP solutions to achieve effective traceability and efforts in achieving interoperability and explainability in NLP models for traceability.
|Presentation slides (2023-06-15_JSS_J1C2.pptx)||1.20MiB|