ipdlogo Publikation 'A Controlled Experiment to Assess the Benefits of Procedure Argument Type Checking'
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Lutz Prechelt, Walter F. Tichy, A Controlled Experiment to Assess the Benefits of Procedure Argument Type Checking, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Vol. 24, (4), p. 302-312, Apr 1998.


Type checking is considered an important mechanism for detecting programming errors, especially interface errors. This report describes an experiment to assess the defect-detection capabilities of static, inter-module type checking.

The experiment uses ANSI C and Kernighan&Ritchie (K&R) C. The relevant difference is that the ANSI C compiler checks module interfaces (i.e., the parameter lists of calls to external functions), whereas K&R C does not. The experiment employs a counterbalanced design in which each of the 40 subjects, most of them CS Ph.D. students, writes two non-trivial programs that interface with a complex library (Motif). Each subject writes one program in ANSI C and one in K&R C. The input to each compiler run is saved and manually analyzed for defects.

Results indicate that delivered ANSI C programs contain significantly fewer interface defects than delivered K&R C programs. Furthermore, after subjects have gained some familiarity with the interface they are using, ANSI C programmers remove defects faster and are more productive (measured in both delivery time and functionality implemented).

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Institutsinterne Autoren

Prof. Tichy, Walter F.
Prof. Prechelt, Lutz



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