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2015 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Program Comprehension (ICPC) (2015)
Florence, Italy
May 18, 2015 to May 19, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4673-8158-1
pp: 255-265
Code reading is an important skill in programming. Inspired by the linearity that people exhibit while natural language text reading, we designed local and global gaze-based measures to characterize linearity (left-to-right and top-to-bottom) in reading source code. Unlike natural language text, source code is executable and requires a specific reading approach. To validate these measures, we compared the eye movements of novice and expert programmers who were asked to read and comprehend short snippets of natural language text and Java programs. Our results show that novices read source code less linearly than natural language text. Moreover, experts read code less linearly than novices. These findings indicate that there are specific differences between reading natural language and source code, and suggest that non-linear reading skills increase with expertise. We discuss the implications for practitioners and educators.
Natural languages, Gaze tracking, Atmospheric measurements, Particle measurements, Linearity, Java

T. Busjahn et al., "Eye Movements in Code Reading: Relaxing the Linear Order," 2015 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Program Comprehension (ICPC), Florence, Italy, 2015, pp. 255-265.
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