A Theory of Program Comprehension: Joining Vision Science and Program Comprehension

A Theory of Program Comprehension: Joining Vision Science and Program Comprehension

Yann-Gaël Guéhéneuc (École Polytechnique de Montréal and Université de Montréal,Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/jssci.2009040104
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Abstract

There exists an extensive literature on vision science, on the one hand, and on program comprehension, on the other hand. However, these two domains of research have been so far rather disjoint. Indeed, several cognitive theories have been proposed to explain program comprehension. These theories explain the processes taking place in the software engineers’ minds when they understand programs. They explain how software engineers process available information to perform their tasks but not how software engineers acquire this information. Vision science provides explanations on the processes used by people to acquire visual information from their environment. Joining vision science and program comprehension provides a more comprehensive theoretical framework to explain facts on program comprehension, to predict new facts, and to frame experiments. We join theories in vision science and in program comprehension; the resulting theory is consistent with facts on program comprehension and helps in predicting new facts, in devising experiments, and in putting certain program comprehension concepts in perspective.

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