Not all bugs are the same: Understanding, characterizing, and classifying bug types

Gemma Catolino*, Fabio Palomba, Andy Zaidman, Filomena Ferrucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Modern version control systems, e.g., GitHub, include bug tracking mechanisms that developers can use to highlight the presence of bugs. This is done by means of bug reports, i.e., textual descriptions reporting the problem and the steps that led to a failure. In past and recent years, the research community deeply investigated methods for easing bug triage, that is, the process of assigning the fixing of a reported bug to the most qualified developer. Nevertheless, only a few studies have reported on how to support developers in the process of understanding the type of a reported bug, which is the first and most time-consuming step to perform before assigning a bug-fix operation. In this paper, we target this problem in two ways: first, we analyze 1280 bug reports of 119 popular projects belonging to three ecosystems such as MOZILLA, APACHE, and ECLIPSE, with the aim of building a taxonomy of the types of reported bugs; then, we devise and evaluate an automated classification model able to classify reported bugs according to the defined taxonomy. As a result, we found nine main common bug types over the considered systems. Moreover, our model achieves high F-Measure and AUC-ROC (64% and 74% on overall, respectively).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Bug classification
  • Empirical study
  • Taxonomy


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