Semantically-enhanced topic recommendation systems for software projects

Maliheh Izadi*, Mahtab Nejati, Abbas Heydarnoori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Software-related platforms such as GitHub and Stack Overflow, have enabled their users to collaboratively label software entities with a form of metadata called topics. Tagging software repositories with relevant topics can be exploited for facilitating various downstream tasks. For instance, a correct and complete set of topics assigned to a repository can increase its visibility. Consequently, this improves the outcome of tasks such as browsing, searching, navigation, and organization of repositories. Unfortunately, assigned topics are usually highly noisy, and some repositories do not have well-assigned topics. Thus, there have been efforts on recommending topics for software projects, however, the semantic relationships among these topics have not been exploited so far. In this work, we propose two recommender models for tagging software projects that incorporate the semantic relationship among topics. Our approach has two main phases; (1) we first take a collaborative approach to curate a dataset of quality topics specifically for the domain of software engineering and development. We also enrich this data with the semantic relationships among these topics and encapsulate them in a knowledge graph we call SED-KGraph. Then, (2) we build two recommender systems; The first one operates only based on the list of original topics assigned to a repository and the relationships specified in our knowledge graph. The second predictive model, however, assumes there are no topics available for a repository, hence it proceeds to predict the relevant topics based on both textual information of a software project (such as its README file), and SED-KGraph. We built SED-KGraph in a crowd-sourced project with 170 contributors from both academia and industry. Through their contributions, we constructed SED-KGraph with 2,234 carefully evaluated relationships among 863 community-curated topics. Regarding the recommenders’ performance, the experiment results indicate that our solutions outperform baselines that neglect the semantic relationships among topics by at least 25% and 23% in terms of Average Success Rate and Mean Average Precision metrics, respectively. We share SED-KGraph, as a rich form of knowledge for the community to re-use and build upon. We also release the source code of our two recommender models, KGRec and KGRec+ (

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
Number of pages36
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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.


  • GitHub
  • Knowledge graph
  • Recommender system
  • Semantic relationships
  • Software projects
  • Tags
  • Topics


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