Paolo Tonella and Mariano Ceccato,

Aspect Mining through the Formal Concept Analysis of Execution Traces


The presence of crosscutting concerns, i.e., functionalities that are not assigned to a single modular unit in the implementation, is one of the major problems in software understanding and evolution. In fact, they are hard to locate (scattering) and may give rise to multiple ripple effects (tangling). Aspect Oriented Programming offers mechanisms to factor them out into a modular unit, called an aspect.

In this paper, aspect identification in existing code is supported by means of dynamic code analysis. Execution traces are generated for the use cases that exercise the main functionalities of the given application. The relationship between execution traces and executed computational units (class methods) is subjected to concept analysis. In the resulting lattice, potential aspects are detected by determining the use-case specific concepts and examining their specific computational units. When these come from multiple modules (classes) which contribute to multiple use-cases, a candidate aspect is recognized.

Postscript version of the paper.