Classifying Code Comments in Java Open-Source Software Systems

Luca Pascarella, Alberto Bacchelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
354 Downloads (Pure)


Code comments are a key software component containing information about the underlying implementation. Several studies have shown that code comments enhance the readability of the code. Nevertheless, not all the comments have the same goal and target audience. In this paper, we investigate how six diverse Java OSS projects use code comments, with the aim of understanding their purpose. Through our analysis, we produce a taxonomy of source code comments, subsequently, we investigate how often each category occur by manually classifying more than 2,000 code comments from the aforementioned projects. In addition, we conduct an initial evaluation on how to automatically classify code comments at line level into our taxonomy using machine learning, initial results are promising and suggest that an accurate classification is within reach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2017 IEEE/ACM 14th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, MSR 2017
Place of PublicationLos Alamitos, CA
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-1544-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventMSR 2017: 14th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Duration: 20 May 201721 May 2017
Conference number: 14


ConferenceMSR 2017
Abbreviated titleMSR
CityBuenos Aires
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 642954


  • comment taxonomy
  • software quality
  • source code comments


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