COMP 5900: Mining Software Repositories

Software development projects generate impressive amounts of data. Mining software repositories research aims to extract information from the various artifacts produced during the evolution of a software system and inferring the relationships between them. This course will introduce the methods and tools of mining software repositories and artifacts used by software developers and researchers. The course will be seminar-based and will involve weekly reading and discussion. The project component will be flexible but will likely involve some programming. For further details on the course content, please refer to its outline (pdf). This course is offered by the School of Computer Science at the Carleton University.

Seminars are held every Tuesday from 11:35 AM to 2:25 PM in CO 214.


  • Please send me your paper selection list (minimum 3 papers) by Friday September 15, 2017.
  • Submit your paper review (due 11:00 AM every Tuesday)

Content Overviewtop

The course will be adjusted according to students’ interests and experience. This is an overview of the kinds of topics the course could cover:

  • Mining software repositories (data extraction and analysis)
  • Development team processes
  • Software development tools and environments
  • Software analytics
  • Software visualization
  • Mining social data
  • Software evolution
  • Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of software engineering research

Tentative Scheduletop

It is important to note that this schedule is evolving and will change based on your interests and how the class is progressing.

Tuesday September 12 - Introduction

  1. Introduction.
  2. Introduction to Mining Software Repositories/Software Analytics.
    Presented by Olga Baysal

Tuesday September 19 - Software Engineering Research Methods

  1. Fredrick P. Brooks. No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering. 1987.
    Presented by Anthony.
  2. Steve Easterbrook, Janice Singer, Margaret-anne Storey, Daniela Damian. Selecting Empirical Methods for Software Engineering Research. 2008.
    Presented by Michael.

Tuesday September 26 - Information Needs

  1. Reid Holmes and Andrew Begel. Deep Intellisense: A Tool for Rehydrating Evaporated Information. In Proceedings of the Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories, 2008.
    Presented by Tansin
  2. Sillito, Murphy and De Volder. Questions programmers ask during software evolution tasks. in Proc. of FSE, 2006.
    Presented by Melissa
  3. Biehl, J. T., Czerwinski, M., Smith, G., and Robertson, G. G. 2007. Fastdash: a visual dashboard for fostering awareness in software teams. CHI 2007.
    Presented by Ramandeep
  4. Ko, DeLine and Venolia. Information needs in collocated software development teams. in Proc. of ICSE 2007.
    Presented by Omar

Tuesday October 03 - Code Review

  1. Alberto Bacchelli and Christian Bird. Expectations, Outcomes, and Challenges of Modern Code Review. ICSE 2013.
    Presented by Francoir-Xavier
  2. Tianyi Zhang, Myoungkyu Song, Joseph Pinedo, Miryung Kim. Interactive Code Review for Systematic Changes. ICSE 2015.
    Presented by Amir
  3. Oleksii Kononenko, Olga Baysal, Latifa Guerrouj, Yaxin Cao, and Michael W. Godfrey. Investigating Code Review Quality: Do People and Participation Matter?. ICSM 2015.
    Presented by Das

Tuesday October 10 - Pull-based Development

  1. Kalliamvakou, Eirini and Gousios, Georgios and Blincoe, Kelly and Singer, Leif and German, Daniel M. and Damian, Daniela. The promises and perils of mining GitHub. MSR 2014
    Presented by Reza
  2. J. Tsay, L. Dabbish, and J. Herbsleb. Influence of social and technical factors for evaluating contribution in GitHub. ICSE 2014
    Presented by Christopher
  3. Herbsleb, J.D., Mockus, A., Finholt, T.A., and Grinter, R.E. (2000). Distance, dependencies, and delay in a global collaboration. In Proceedings, ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Philadelphia, PA, Dec. 2-7, pp. 319-328.
    Presented by Dongmei

Tuesday October 17 - All About Bugs

  1. Danilo Silva, Nikaolas Tsantalis, Marco Tulio Valente," Why we refactor? Confessions of GitHub Contributors". In the proceedings of FSE 2016.
    Presented by Harpreet
  2. Mario Linares-Vasquez, Gabriele Bavota and Camilo Escobar-Velasquez. An Empirical Study on Android-related Vulnerabilities. MSR 2017.
    Presented by Ahmad
  3. Emerson Murphy-Hill and Andrew P. Black. Breaking the Barriers to Successful Refactoring: Observations and Tools for Extract Method. International Conference on Software Engineering. 2008.
    Presented by Gurpreet

Tuesday October 24 - NO CLASS (Reading Week)

Tuesday October 31 - Development Teams

  1. Bird, C., Nagappan, N., Devanbu, P.T., Gall, H., and Murphy, B. Does distributed development affect software quality? An empirical case study of Windows Vista. ICSE 2009.
    Presented by Dongmei
  2. Shaun Phillips, Thomas Zimmermann, and Christian Bird. Understanding and Improving Software Build Teams. ICSE, 2014.
    Presented by Gurpreet
  3. Teasley, S. D., Covi, L. A., Krishnan, M. S. and Olson, J. S. Rapid Software Development through Team Collocation. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 28, 7 2002), 671-683
    Presented by Omar
  4. Andrew Begel and Beth Simon. Struggles of new college graduates in their first software development job. SIGCSE 2008.
    Presented by Ramandeep

Tuesday November 07 - Software Analytics

  1. Emerson Murphy-Hill, Thomas Zimmermann, Nachiappan Nagappan. Cowboys, ankle sprains, and keepers of quality: how is video game development different from software development?. ICSE
    Presented by Christopher
  2. Di Yang, Aftab Hussain and Cristina Lopes. From Query to Usable Code: An Analysis of Stack Overflow Code Snippets. MSR 2016.
    Presented by Ahmad
  3. Emerson Murphy-Hill, Gail C. Murphy. Recommendation Delivery. Recommendation Systems in Software Engineering, 2013. >
    Presented by Amir

Tuesday November 14 - Refactoring

  1. Emerson Murphy-Hill, Chris Parnin, Andrew P. Black. How we refactor, and how we know it. In ICSE '09: Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE 31st International Conference on Software Engineering (2009), pp. 287-297.
    Presented by Francoir-Xavier
  2. Eirini Kalliamvakou; Daniela Damian; Kelly Blincoe; Leif Singer; Daniel German. Open Source-Style Collaborative Development Practices in Commercial Projects Using GitHub. ICSE 2015
    Presented by Reza
  3. Kim, Miryung, Thomas Zimmermann, and Nachiappan Nagappan. A field study of refactoring challenges and benefits. FSE 2012.
    Presented by Harpreet

Tuesday November 21 - Mining Various Repositories

  1. Gail C. Murphy, David Notkin, and Kevin J. Sullivan. Software Reflexion Models: Bridging the Gap between Design and Implementation. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering,
    Presented by Tansin
  2. Marco di Biase, Magiel Bruntink, and Alberto Bacchelli. A security perspective on code review: The case of Chromium. SCAM 2016.
    Presented by Das
  3. Martin P. Robillard, Wesley Coelho, and Gail C. Murphy. How Effective Developers Investigate Source Code: An Exploratory Study. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 30(12):889-903, December 2004.
    Presented by Anthony
  4. Leif Singer, Fernando Marques Figueira Filho, Margaret-Anne D. Storey. Software engineering at the speed of light: how developers stay current using Twitter. ICSE 2014
    Presented by Michael

Tuesday November 28 - NO CLASS (I am away at a workshop)

Tuesday December 5 - Project Presentations (15 minutes for each group)


  • Weekly paper reviews: 10%
  • Class participation and discussion: 20%
  • Paper presentations: 20%
  • Course Project: 50% (10% project presentation + 40% project report)

Weekly Paper Reviewstop

Each week you are expected to carefully read two papers. In addition, you are to submit a review of one of the papers (you choose which one). However, if you are doing a paper presentation, then you are excused for that week.

Reviews are due by 11:00 AM on the morning of the class. Please send me email with the Subject "[COMP 5900] Paper Review Student_Name".

A review should be about 500-1000 words long, and submitted as a PDF file.

Your review should address the following points:

  1. What were the primary contributions of the paper as the author sees it?
  2. What were the main contributions of the paper as you (the reader) see it?
  3. How does this work move the research forward (or how does the work apply to you)?
  4. How was the work validated?
  5. How could this research be extended?
  6. How could this research be applied in practice?

Class Participationtop

Each week you are expected to read two papers, as well as participate in the class discussion.

Paper Presentationstop

In a typical week, we will examine two or three research papers. I will present a few of them on my own, but the other presentations will be done by students.

You will get to select three papers you want to present from the course (in the order of your first to last preferences). Please make your selections from this list. Once you have selected your papers, email me your selection of three papers.This must be done by Friday September 15 via email. I will generate a cohesive class schedule once everyone has selected their papers. Each student will be assigned to present two papers in class.

You are then to design a presentation of about 20-25 minutes that is both informative and entertaining. Don't feel limited to just the content of the papers.

You should also come prepared with a set of questions to foster a 15-20 minute discussion session that you will lead to follow the presentation (this is where the other students earn their class participation marks).

When you design your talk, keep in mind that the audience has already read the papers. Remind us of the motivation, the big ideas, the context of the problem being addressed, and how all of this relates to what we've already seen in the course.

Presentations can be done using Open Office, Powerpoint, Keynote, or PDF. You must supply a set of slides (only PDF) to me prior your talk and I will put them on the course web page.

Course Projecttop

The project forms an integral part of this course. The projects can be done individually or completed in groups of two students.

You have two options: either create a submission for the 2018 MSR challenge or come up with an idea of your own that relates to the course material. In either case, the project topic will require my approval (via the proposal).

If you decide to do the MSR challenge, you can optionally decide to submit it to the conference, but note that the deadline is February 2018. Talk to me if you are interested in exploring this. Otherwise, you can just decide to do the challenge as your class project and ignore the actual conference submission.

There are three deliverables for your project:

  1. Project proposal. Before you undertake your project you will need to submit a proposal for approval. The proposal should be short (max 2 page PDF in ACM format). The proposal should include a problem statement, the motivation for the project, and set of objectives you aim to accomplish. I will read these and provide comments. The proposal is not for marks but must be completed in order to pass the course. This will be due on October 03 by 11:00 AM via email.

  2. Written report. The required length of the written report varies from project to project (8-10 pages, double column format); all reports must be formatted according to the ACM format and submitted as a PDF. This report will constitute 100% of the project report grade. This will be due on December 15 by 11:59 PM via email.

  3. Project presentation. Each group will have the opportunity to present their project in class on December 05 . This presentation should take the form of a 15 minute (hard maximum) conference-style talk and describe the motivation for your work, what you did, and what you found. If a demo is the best way to describe what you did, feel free to include one in the middle of the talk. Please allocate 3-5 minute time for questions after the project has been presented.

    The proposed structure of your presentation:

    1. Introduction (describe the problem and motivation)
    2. Research questions
    3. Methodology: data collection, data cleanup, data mining, data analysis (statistics, machine learning), etc.
    4. Results (achieved, preliminary, or anticipated)
    5. Implications (why does this study matter? how can your findings be used?)
    6. Conclusion (summary, main contributions)


The best way to get in touch with me is via email: olga.baysal[at]

University Policiestop

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity is everyone’s business because academic dishonesty affects the quality of every Carleton degree. Each year students are caught in violation of academic integrity and found guilty of plagiarism and cheating. In many instances they could have avoided failing an assignment or a course simply by learning the proper rules of citation. See the academic integrity for more information.

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) provides services to students with Learning Disabilities (LD), psychiatric/mental health disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), chronic medical conditions, and impairments in mobility, hearing, and vision. If you have a disability requiring academic accommodations in this course, please contact PMC at 613-520-6608 or for a formal evaluation. If you are already registered with the PMC, contact your PMC coordinator to send me your Letter of Accommodation at the beginning of the term, and no later than two weeks before the first in-class scheduled test or exam requiring accommodation (if applicable). After requesting accommodation from PMC, meet with me to ensure accommodation arrangements are made. Please consult the PMC website for the deadline to request accommodations for the formally-scheduled exam (if applicable).

Pregnancy Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website.

Religious Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website.