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ICSE 2023
Sun 14 - Sat 20 May 2023 Melbourne, Australia

A large number of bug reports are created during the evolution of a software system. Locating the source code files that need to be changed in order to fix these bugs is a challenging task. Information retrieval-based bug localization techniques do so by correlating bug reports with historical information about the source code (e.g., previously resolved bug reports, commit logs). These techniques have shown to be efficient and easy to use. However, one flaw that is nearly omnipresent in all these techniques is that they ignore code refactorings. Code refactorings are common during software system evolution, but from the perspective of typical version control systems, they break the code history. For example, a class when renamed then appears as two separate classes with separate histories. Obviously, this is a problem that affects any technique that leverages code history. This paper proposes a refactoring-aware traceability model to keep track of the code evolution history. With this model, we reconstruct the code history by analyzing the impact of code refactorings to correctly stitch together what would otherwise be a fragmented history. To demonstrate that a refactoring aware history is indeed beneficial, we investigated three widely adopted bug localization techniques that make use of code history. Our evaluation on 11 open source projects shows that taking code refactorings into account significantly improves the results of these bug localization techniques without significant changes to the techniques themselves. The more refactorings are used in a project, the stronger the benefit we observed. Based on our findings, we believe that much of the state-of-the-art leveraging code history should benefit from our work.

RAT: A Refactoring-Aware Traceability Model for Bug Localization (2023027846.pdf)624KiB