Late Propagation in Near-Miss Clones: An Empirical Study

Manishankar Mondal, Chanchal K. Roy, Kevin A. Schneider


If two or more code fragments in the code-base of a software system are exactly or nearly similar to one another, we call them code clones. It is often important that updates (i.e., changes) in one clone fragment should be propagated to the other similar clone fragments to ensure consistency. However, if there is a delay in this propagation because of unawareness, the system might behave inconsistently. This delay in propagation, also known as late propagation, has been investigated by a number of existing studies. However, the existing studies did not investigate the intensity as well as the effect of late propagation in different types of clones separately. Also, late propagation in Type 3 clones is yet to investigate. In this research work we investigate late propagation in three types of clones (Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3) separately. According to our experimental results on six subject systems written in three programming languages, late propagation is more intense in Type 3 clones compared to the other two clone-types. Block clones are mostly involved in late propagation instead of method clones. Refactoring of block clones can possibly minimize late propagation. If not refactorable, then the clones that often need to be changed together consistently should be placed in close proximity to one another.

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