PPIG 2005 - 17th Annual Workshop
Theoretical Considerations on Navigating Codespace with Spatial Cognition
Anthony Cox, Maryanne Fisher, Philip O’Brien
Abstract: Spatial cognition has been well examined using various psychological perspectives. Here we suggest that this previous research can be utilized to provide insight into source-code navigation and program comprehension. In our model, code represents an abstract space that must be navigated using the same cognitive strategies as for natural environments. Thus, when navigating ‘codespace’ computer programmers face many of the same challenges as people navigating within the real world, and consequently, will likely rely on similar skills and strategies. In support of this observation, we explore from a theoretical perspective the use of spatial cognition during program comprehension. Examination reveals that research in spatial cognition provides, albeit currently unproven, explanations for programmer behaviours during program comprehension activities. To validate our model, we suggest a preliminary experiment to explore the existence of codespace.