LUCID: Clearer Software by Integrating Natural Language Analysis into Software Engineering

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Computer Science


Developers spend most of their time maintaining code, with little tool support.
To maintain code, one must understand it. Clear code is easier to read and
understand, and therefore less expensive and risky to evolve and maintain; it
is also notoriously difficult to write. We will help developers write clearer
code to speed maintenance, and increase developer productivity. Source code
unites two channels - the programming language and natural language - to
describe algorithms. LUCID will advance the state of the art in software
engineering by developing new analyses that exploit the interconnections
between these channels to find uninformative names, stale comments, and bugs
that manifest as discrepancies between the two channels.

Planned Impact

LUCID attacks a core software engineering concern; it will build tools that
help developers to maintain software more quickly, with less risk and less
cost. Thus, the work in this proposal has the potential for enormous economic
benefits in the long term. The UK has one of the strongest software sectors in
Europe. For example, in 2008 the UK accounted for 25% of European software
companies. By making software maintenance cheaper, this project will benefit
companies that sell software by lowering the costs of evolving their code and
releasing new versions. These tools will also benefit the many companies that
evolve and maintain custom software systems for their own in house use, by
lowering the cost of these infrastructural projects.


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