Information Foraging Theory in Software Navigation

Speaker:  Margaret Burnett – Corvallis, OR, United States
Topic(s):  Human Computer Interaction , Software Engineering and Programming


In this talk, we reconsider the notion of how people go about navigation-intensive tasks like debugging, by exploring a theory that is consistent today's large collections of source code and modern programming environments. The theory we are exploring is called information foraging theory. Information foraging theory has become very influential in the field of human-computer interaction, and we are working to bring its benefits to the software engineering community. For example, in recent years, the software engineering community has begun to study program navigation and tools to support it. Some of these navigation tools are very useful, but they lack a human-oriented theoretical basis that could reduce the need for ad hoc tool building approaches by shedding light on what is fundamentally necessary to the people using such tools.

Thus, in this talk, we present our work on the PFIS family of models (Programmer Flow by Information Scent), which are behavior models and algorithms, based by information foraging theory, of programmer navigation during software maintenance. We also describe strengths, weaknesses, and open questions we have found in our empirical studies applying these models to expert programmers debugging real bugs described in real bug reports for real Java applications. Our results have been very encouraging, and also point out interesting differences between how information foraging theory applies to the web browsing versus information foraging theory's application to software development activities like debugging.

About this Lecture

Number of Slides:  40
Duration:  45 minutes
Languages Available:  English
Last Updated: 

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