Software

Fair and Balanced? Bias in Bug-Fix Datasets

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Executive Summary

Software engineering researchers have long been interested in where and why bugs occur in code, and in predicting where they might turn up next. Historical bug-occurence data has been key to this research. Bug tracking systems, and code version histories, record when, how and by whom bugs were fixed; from these sources, datasets that relate file changes to bug fixes can be extracted. These historical datasets can be used to test hypotheses concerning processes of bug introduction, and also to build statistical bug prediction models. Unfortunately, processes and humans are imperfect, and only a fraction of bug fixes are actually labeled in source code version histories, and thus become available for study in the extracted datasets.

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