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14th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM'98)
Clone Detection Using Abstract Syntax Trees
Bethesda, Maryland
March 16-March 19
ISBN: 0-8186-8779-7
Existing research suggests that a considerable fraction (5-10%) of the source code of large-scale computer programs is duplicate code ("clones"). Detection and removal of such clones promises decreased software maintenance costs of possibly the same magnitude. Previous work was limited to detection of either near-misses differing only in single lexems, or near misses only between complete functions. This paper presents simple and practical methods for detecting exact and near miss clones over arbitrary program fragments in program source code by using abstract syntax trees. Previous work also did not suggest practical means for removing detected clones. Since our methods operate in terms of the program structure, clones could be removed by mechanical methods producing in-lined procedures or standard preprocessor macros.A tool using these techniques is applied to a C production software system of some 400K source lines, and the results confirm detected levels of duplication found by previous work. The tool produces macro bodies needed for clone removal, and macro invocations to replace the clones. The tool uses a variation of the well-known compiler method for detecting common sub-expressions. This method determines exact tree matches; a number of adjustments are needed to detect equivalent statement sequences, commutative operands, and nearly exact matches. We additionally suggest that clone detection could also be useful in producing more structured code, and in reverse engineering to discover domain concepts and their implementations.
Index Terms:
Software maintenance, clone detection, software evaluation, Design Maintenance System
Citation:
Ira D. Baxter, Andrew Yahin, Leonardo Moura, Marcelo Sant'Anna, Lorraine Bier, "Clone Detection Using Abstract Syntax Trees," icsm, pp.368, 14th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM'98), 1998
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