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It is widely believed that refactoring improves software quality and programmer productivity by making it easier to maintain and understand software systems. However, the role of refactorings has not been systematically investigated using fine-grained evolution history. The authors quantitatively and qualitatively studied API-level refactorings and bug fixes in three large open source projects, totaling 26523 revisions of evolution. The study found several surprising results: One, there is an increase in the number of bug fixes after API-level refactorings. Two, the time taken to fix bugs is shorter after API-level refactorings than before. Three, a large number of refactoring revisions include bug fixes at the same time or are related to later bug fix revisions.
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