Using IR methods for labeling source code artifacts: Is it worthwhile?
Information Retrieval (IR) techniques have been used for various software engineering tasks, including the labeling of software artifacts by extracting “keywords” from them. Such techniques include Vector Space Models, Latent Semantic Indexing, Latent Dirichlet Allocation, as well as customized heuristics extracting words from specific source code elements. This paper investigates how source code artifact labeling performed by IR techniques would overlap (and differ) from labeling performed by humans. This has been done by asking a group of subjects to label 20 classes from two Java software systems, JHotDraw and eXVantage. Results indicate that, in most cases, automatic labeling would be more similar to human-based labeling if using simpler techniques - e.g., using words from class and method names - that better reflect how humans behave. Instead, clustering-based approaches (LSI and LDA) are much more worthwhile to be used on source code artifacts having a high verbosity, as well as for artifacts requiring more effort to be manually labeled.