Why Did This Code Change?

Sarah Rastkar and Gail C. Murphy

University of British Columbia, Canada

Track: New Ideas and Emerging Results
Session: Supporting Tomorrow's Developer
When a developer works on code that is shared with other developers, she needs to know why the code has been changed in particular ways to avoid reintroducing bugs. A developer looking at a code change may have access to a short commit message or a link to a bug report which may provide detailed information about how the code changed but which often lacks information about what motivated the change. This motivational information can sometimes be found by piecing together information from a set of relevant project documents, but few developers have the time to find and read the right documentation. We propose the use of multi-document summarization techniques to generate a concise natural language description of why code changed so that a developer can choose the right course of action.