Active Clones: Source Code Clones at Runtime

Mohammad Asif A. Khan, Kevin A Schneider, Chanchal K Roy


Code cloning is a common programming practice, and there have been aconsiderable amount of research that investigated the implications of code clones onsoftware maintenance using static analysis. However, little has been done to investigatethe runtime implications of code cloning. In this paper we investigate sourcecode clones at runtime, referring to clones as ‘active clones’ if they are invokedwhen a software system is in use. For example, if a particular use u of a systemresults in a clone c being invoked, we say that clone c is active with respect to useu. From this definition and given a set of uses fu1;u2; :::g and clones fc1;c2; :::gwe are able to identify the extent clones are active at runtime and analyze activeclone resource use (e.g., CPU time) and define and calculate a set of active clonemetrics to provide insights into source code cloning implications at runtime. We developeda hybrid static and dynamic analysis technique for detecting and analysingactive clones, and conducted an empirical study on five software systems (HSQLDB,JHotDraw, RText, jEdit and UniCentaoPOS) to validate our approach. We found asmall portion of clones are active during a typical use of a software system, and thatactive clones have the potential for guiding a software developer’s code inspectionactivity during a software maintenance task.

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