An empirical study of dormant bugs

Authors: Tse-Hsun Chen Meiyappan Nagappan Emad Shihab Ahmed E. Hassan

Venue: MSR   11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR), pp. 82--91, 2014

Year: 2014

Abstract: Over the past decade, several research efforts have studied the quality of software systems by looking at post-release bugs. However, these studies do not account for bugs that remain dormant (i.e., introduced in a version of the software system, but are not found until much later) for years and across many versions. Such dormant bugs skew our under- standing of the software quality. In this paper we study dormant bugs against non-dormant bugs using data from 20 different open-source Apache foundation software systems. We find that 33% of the bugs introduced in a version are not reported till much later (i.e., they are reported in future versions as dormant bugs). Moreover, we find that 18.9% of the reported bugs in a version are not even introduced in that version (i.e., they are dormant bugs from prior versions). In short, the use of reported bugs to judge the quality of a specific version might be misleading. Exploring the fix process for dormant bugs, we find that they are fixed faster (median fix time of 5 days) than non- dormant bugs (median fix time of 8 days), and are fixed by more experienced developers (median commit counts of developers who fix dormant bug is 169% higher). Our results highlight that dormant bugs are different from non-dormant bugs in many perspectives and that future research in software quality should carefully study and consider dormant bugs.

Preprint: PDF


    author = "Tse-Hsun Chen and Meiyappan Nagappan and Emad Shihab and Ahmed E. Hassan",
    title = "An empirical study of dormant bugs",
    year = "2014",
    pages = "82--91",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the 11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories"

Plain Text:

Tse-Hsun Chen, Meiyappan Nagappan, Emad Shihab, and Ahmed E. Hassan, "An empirical study of dormant bugs," 11th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR), pp. 82--91