Boosting Automatic Commit Classification Into Maintenance Activities By Utilizing Source Code Changes

by   Stanislav Levin, et al.

Background: Understanding maintenance activities performed in a source code repository could help practitioners reduce uncertainty and improve cost-effectiveness by planning ahead and pre-allocating resources towards source code maintenance. The research community uses 3 main classification categories for maintenance activities: Corrective: fault fixing; Perfective: system improvements; Adaptive: new feature introduction. Previous work in this area has mostly concentrated on evaluating commit classification (into maintenance activities) models in the scope of a single software project. Aims: In this work we seek to design a commit classification model capable of providing high accuracy and Kappa across different projects. In addition, we wish to compare the accuracy and kappa characteristics of classification models that utilize word frequency analysis, source code changes, and combination thereof. Method: We suggest a novel method for automatically classifying commits into maintenance activities by utilizing source code changes (e.g, statement added, method removed, etc.). The results we report are based on studying 11 popular open source projects from various professional domains from which we had manually classified 1151 commits, over 100 from each of the studied projects. Our models were trained using 85 remaining 15 accuracy of 76 for the test dataset, an improvement of over 20 percentage points, and a relative boost of 40 Conclusions: We show that by using source code changes in combination with commit message word frequency analysis we are able to considerably boost classification quality in a project agnostic manner.


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