W. G. Griswold
D. C. Atkinson,
"Managing Design Tradeoffs for a Program Understanding and
Transformation Tool", Journal of Systems and Software,
Elsevier, vol.30, (no.1-2):99-116, July-Aug. 1995.
Software maintenance is costly. Part of the problem is that the repeated
modification of a software system degrades its structure, making it
difficult to understand and modify. Semantically rich techniques can
help a software engineer understand or restore the structure of a system,
but they typically use concurrency analysis or dependence analysis on
pointers, which are difficult, at best, to implement efficiently. We
believe that less expensive techniques can be used if the design and
domain knowledge of the software engineer can be used in the analysis.
Exploiting this knowledge may entail iteratively refining a query to find
the right information, requiring a fast, flexible tool. We describe the
design and use of a fast, programmable tool that can perform
syntactically oriented text processing tasks for use in program
understanding and transformation. We take a ``traditional'' compiler
approach to the problem to provide a tool with the flexibility and speed
of UNIX tools like awk, but make structural adjustments to the tool's
design to accommodate interactive analysis of an entire system. Our
performance measurements suggest that this approach can produce results
substantially faster than previous approaches.