Bringing ultra-large-scale software repository mining to the masses with Boa

Dyer, Robert
Major Professor
Hridesh Rajan
Committee Member
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Computer Science
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Computer Science

Mining software repositories provides developers and researchers a

chance to learn from previous development activities and apply that

knowledge to the future. Ultra-large-scale open source repositories

(e.g., SourceForge with 350,000+ projects, GitHub with 250,000+

projects, and Google Code with 250,000+ projects) provide an extremely

large corpus to perform such mining tasks on. This large corpus allows

researchers the opportunity to test new mining techniques and

empirically validate new approaches on real-world data. However, the

barrier to entry is often extremely high. Researchers interested in

mining must know a large number of techniques, languages, tools, etc,

each of which is often complex. Additionally, performing mining at

the scale proposed above adds additional complexity and often is

difficult to achieve.

The Boa language and infrastructure was developed to solve these

problems. We provide users a domain-specific language tailored for

software repository mining and allow them to submit queries via our

web-based interface. These queries are then automatically

parallelized and executed on a cluster, analyzing a dataset containing

almost 700,000 projects, history information from millions of

revisions, millions of Java source files, and billions of AST nodes.

The language also provides an easy to comprehend visitor syntax to

ease writing source code mining queries. The underlying

infrastructure contains several optimizations, including query

optimizations to make single queries faster as well as a fusion

optimization to group queries from multiple users into a single query.

The latter optimization is important as Boa is intended to be a

shared, community resource. Finally, we show the potential benefit of

Boa to the community by reproducing a previously published case

study and performing a new case study on the adoption of Java language