International Workshop on Program Comprehension - IWPC 2001, Toronto

IWPC 2001 was held at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on May 12-13. It was co-located with ICSE 2001, the 23rd International Conference on Software Engineering. The hotel, situated directly on the lakefront overlooking Lake Ontario, provided ample meeting and guestroom space for the entire conference.

The structure of this year's program emphasized the wide range of on-going research activities in the area of program comprehension. It included research papers in the areas of design recovery, program transformation, data flow analysis, and software architecture recovery, as well as papers on tools, techniques, and experimental studies. Keynotes were presented by Prof. Keith Bennett from the University of Durham and Prof. Dewayne Perry from the University of Texas.

This year, a total of 44 submissions were received by the program committee, and after a rigorous and painstaking review process, 28 were selected, and subsequently presented, in 9 sessions, running on parallel tracks.

I presented a paper entitled "Inference-based & Expectation-based processing in program comprehension". This research formally distinguishes between two variants of top-down comprehension (as originally described by Brooks and Soloway). The first is 'inference-based' comprehension, where the programmer derives meaning from clichéd implementations in the code. The second is 'expectation-based' comprehension, where the programmer has pre-generated expectations of the code's meaning. The paper described the distinguishing features of the two variants, and used these characteristics as the basis for an empirical study. This study established their existence, and identified their relationship with programmers' domain and coding standards familiarity.

On a final note, it was mentioned and agreed upon by all attendees of IWPC that due to the increasing awareness and significance of program comprehension as an integral part of the software lifecycle, this workshop should, in the near future, become a conference.

Next year, the International Workshop on Program Comprehension (IWPC 2002), will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a co-located event with ICSE 2002. Details of IWPC 2002 can be found by following the links on the ICSE 2002 web site.

Michael O'Brien
Department of Information Technology
Limerick Institute of Technology
Moylish Park, Limerick