A Study of Bug Resolution Characteristics in Popular Programming Languages

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE)


This paper presents a large-scale study that investigates the bug resolution characteristics among popular Github projects written in different programming languages. We explore correlations but, of course, we cannot infer causation. Specifically, we analyse bug resolution data from approximately 70 million Source Line of Code, drawn from 3 million commits to 600 GitHub projects, primarily written in 10 programming languages. We find notable variations in apparent bug resolution time and patch (fix) size. While interpretation of results from such large-scale empirical studies is inherently difficult, we believe that the differences in medians are sufficiently large to warrant further investigation, replication, re-analysis and follow up research. For example, in our corpus, the median apparent bug resolution time (elapsed time from raise to resolve) for Ruby was 4X that for Go and 2.5X for Java. We also found that patches tend to touch more files for the corpus of strongly typed and for statically typed programs. However, we also found evidence for a lower elapsed resolution time for bug resolution committed to projects constructed from statically typed languages. These findings, if replicated in subsequent follow on studies, may shed further empirical light on the debate about the importance of static typing.

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