A Commit Messages-Based Bug Localization for Android Applications

Tao Zhang, Wenjun Hu, Xiapu Luo, Xiaobo Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, there has been consistent growth in Android applications (apps). Under these circumstances, software maintenance for Android apps becomes an essential and important task. The core of software maintenance is to locate bugs in source files. Previous bug localization approaches mainly focus on open-source desktop software (e.g. Eclipse, Mozilla, GCC). Even though a few studies locate the bugs in the Android apps, they are dedicated to a special app named ZXing, without developing a general method to locate the bugs in Android apps by taking into account the unique characteristics of Android apps' bug reports. Such characteristics include fewer number of historical bug reports, insufficient detailed description, etc. These characteristics hinder existing localization approaches from being directly delivered to Android apps, because lack of enough information degrades the performance of those localization approaches relying on historical bug reports. Commit messages include more informative data which can provide the details of reported bugs. Therefore, in this paper, we propose a novel information retrieval-based approach which utilizes commit messages to locate new bugs in Android apps. This approach not only considers the structured textual similarity between the given bug and the candidate source files, but also computes the unstructured textual similarities between the new bug and the commit messages linked to the corresponding source files. According to the experimental results on 10 popular open-source Android apps managed by GitHub, our approach outperforms the state-of-the-art bug localization methods that include BugLocator, BLUiR, and two-phase model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-487
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Android apps
  • bug localization
  • commit messages
  • Information retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Artificial Intelligence


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