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A Comprehensive Study of Code-removal Patches in Automated Program Repair

by   Davide Ginelli, et al.

Automatic Program Repair (APR) techniques can promisingly help reducing the cost of debugging. Many relevant APR techniques follow the generate-and-validate approach, that is, the faulty program is iteratively modified with different change operators and then validated with a test suite until a plausible patch is generated. In particular, Kali is a generate-and-validate technique developed to investigate the possibility of generating plausible patches by only removing code. Former studies show that indeed Kali successfully addressed several faults. This paper addresses the case of code-removal patches in automated program repair investigating the reasons and the scenarios that make their creation possible, and the relationship with patches implemented by developers. Our study reveals that code-removal patches are often insufficient to fix bugs, and proposes a comprehensive taxonomy of code-removal patches that provides evidence of the problems that may affect test suites, opening new opportunities for researchers in the field of automatic program repair.


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