Assessing the effect of clones on changeability

Lozano, Angela and Wermelinger, Michel (2008). Assessing the effect of clones on changeability. In: Proceedings of the 24th IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance, 28 Sep - 4 Oct 2008, Beijing, China, IEEE, pp. 227–236.



To prioritize software maintenance activities, it is important to identify which programming flaws impact most on an application's evolution. Recent empirical studies on such a flaw, code clones, have focused on one of the arguments to consider clones harmful, namely, that related clones are not updated consistently. We believe that a wider notion is needed to assess the effect of cloning on evolution. This paper compares measures of the maintenance effort on methods with clones against those without. Statistical and graphical analysis suggests that having a clone may increase the maintenance effort of changing a method. The effort seems to increase depending on the percentage of the system affected whenever the methods that share the clone are modified. We also found that some methods seem to increase significantly their maintenance effort when a clone was present. However, the characteristics analyzed in these methods did not reveal any systematic relation between cloning and such maintenance effort increase.

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