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The Role of Comprehension in Software Inspection

Dunsmore, A. and Roper, M. and Wood, M. (2000) The Role of Comprehension in Software Inspection. Journal of Systems and Software, 52 (2-3). pp. 121-129. ISSN 0164-1212

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Abstract

In spite of code inspections having been demonstrated as an effective defect detection process, little work has been done to determine how this process best supports the object-oriented paradigm. In contrast, this paradigm (or at least its questionable manifestation in C++) is well supported by tools that purport to aid comprehension. These tools typically take the form of visualisation tools designed to assist in the maintenance process, and it is natural to consider that these tools (or adaptations thereof) might also support inspection. However, since these tools claim to aid comprehension, it is important to consider the role of comprehension in inspection. Or put simply, does comprehension matter, or are there simple techniques in existence which are similarly effective in detecting defects? This paper presents the issues associated with inspections (and the complications presented by the object-oriented paradigm) and comprehension, and presents the results of two experiments which considered the relationship between comprehension and inspection. The results indicate a relationship, but further work is needed to determine the precise nature of this relationship and how inspections might best be supported in the future.