Program Comprehension

Authored by: Václav Rajlich , Leon Wilson

Encyclopedia of Software Engineering

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420059779
eBook ISBN: 9781351249270
Adobe ISBN:


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Program comprehension is a fundamental aspect of software maintenance and evolution; the ability of programmers to understand the source code is paramount before a change can be introduced into a program. Concept location and impact analysis activities that precede the actual making of the software change are some of the most frequent activities in program comprehension. There are many static and dynamic techniques developed by researchers over the years supporting these activities. Most of these techniques are examples of an “as-needed” approach to program comprehension. In contrast, classical program comprehension theories concentrate on how programmers acquire a broad and complete understanding of the entire program. Also, reverse engineering of the program source code is a technique used to assist with program comprehension when program documentation is not available or not reliably up-to-date.

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