Inferring Method Specifications From Natural Language API Descriptions

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Executive Summary

Application Programming Interface (API) documents are a typical way of describing legal usage of reusable software libraries, thus facilitating software reuse. However, even with such documents, developers often overlook some documents and build software systems that are inconsistent with the legal usage of those libraries. Existing software verification tools require formal specifications (such as code contracts), and therefore cannot directly verify the legal usage described in natural language text in API documents against code using that library. However, in practice, most libraries do not come with formal specifications, thus hindering tool-based verification. To address this issue, the authors propose a novel approach to infer formal specifications from natural language text of API documents.

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