Talk to examine deep learning for automating software documentation maintenance

February 05, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Information Sciences and Technology’s Distinguished Lecture Series continues this spring to connect researchers, experts and thought leaders with the Penn State community to share perspectives and insights on a variety of topics. Kicking off the series this spring is Raymond J. Mooney, professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. Mooney will present a talk on “Deep Learning for Automating Software Documentation Maintenance” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, on Zoom.

About the talk

Applying deep learning to large open-source software repositories offers the potential to develop many useful tools for aiding software development, including automated program synthesis and documentation generation. Specifically, Mooney and his team have developed methods that learn to automatically update existing natural language comments based on changes to the body of code they accompany.

Developers frequently forget to update comments when they change code, which is detrimental to the software development cycle, causing confusion and bugs. Using methods for "just in time" comment/code inconsistency detection which learn to recognize when changes to code render it incompatible with its existing documentation, they then learn a model that appropriately updates a comment when it is judged to be inconsistent.

Mooney’s approach learns to correlate changes across two distinct language representations, generating a sequence of edits that are applied to an existing comment to reflect source code modifications. His team trained and evaluated their model using a large dataset collected from commit histories of open-source Java software projects, with each example consisting of an update to a method and any concurrent edit to its corresponding comment. They have compared their approach against multiple baselines using both automatic metrics and human evaluation. Results reflect the challenge of this task and that our model outperforms many baselines with respect to detecting inconsistent comments and appropriately updating them. 

About Raymond J. Mooney

Mooney is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his doctorate in 1988 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is an author of over 180 published research papers, primarily in the areas of machine learning and natural language processing. He was the president of the International Machine Learning Society from 2008-2011, program co-chair for AAAI 2006, general chair for HLT-EMNLP 2005, and co-chair for ICML 1990. He is a Fellow of AAAI, ACM, and ACL and the recipient of the Classic Paper Award from AAAI-19 and best paper awards from AAAI-96, KDD-04, ICML-05 and ACL-07.

About the Distinguished Lecture Series

The College of IST Distinguished Lecture series aims to enrich the experience of students, faculty and staff by inspiring thought-provoking conversations and exposing them to a diverse array of people, backgrounds and ideas in the information sciences and related domains.

All lectures are free and open to the Penn State community unless otherwise noted.

Last Updated February 05, 2021