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[Seminar] Comment Maintenance as Software Evolves

Monday, April 19, 2021

11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Online via MS Teams


Source code repositories consist of not only programming language, but also natural language in the form of comments, variable and method names, documentation, etc. These natural language elements play critical roles in code intelligibility and comprehension.

This talk presents our research on comments and how they correspond and co-evolve with code. Specifically, we present our technique that automatically updates comments upon code changes. By learning to correlate changes in two distinct representations, our approach consistently outperforms comment generation from scratch. We also present a novel system that detects comment-code inconsistencies in a just-in-time fashion, that we integrate with the comment update system to form a new framework for comment maintenance as software evolves. Finally, we showcase the usefulness of contextual and linguistic reasoning, by learning to generate comments from class hierarchy.

About the Speaker

Jessy Li ( is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at UT Austin where she works on computational linguistics and natural language processing. Her work focuses on discourse organization, text intelligibility, and language pragmatics in social media. She received her Ph.D. in 2017 from the University of Pennsylvania. She received an ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award at FSE 2019, an Area Chair Favorite at COLING 2018, and a Best Paper nomination at SIGDIAL 2016.