ERIC Number: ED283507
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Dec-1
Expert Programmer Comprehension of Computer Programs: Final Report.
This report summarizes research on experienced programmers' comprehension of computer programs that was carried out over a three-year contract period (1982-85). Following an extensive review of the programming skill literature, an analysis of programs based on the multiple abstractions (points-of-view) that characterize program text and design was proposed and three research questions were examined: (1) how multiple abstractions are coordinated into effective mental representations necessary to comprehend programs; (2) how different kinds of programming knowledge enter into program comprehension; and (3) what comprehension strategies distinguish programmers who obtain high levels of comprehension from those who do not. A two-stage model of comprehension was suggested by the research, which showed that procedural representations tend to dominate program understanding in the first stage, while functional representations dominate in the later stages. It was found that the feature distinguishing the best comprehenders from the poorest in the current research was use of cross-referencing strategies in which procedural relations in program text (textbase macrostructure) were explicitly mapped onto functional relations, expressed in the language of the real-world objects to which the program referred (situation model); the poorest comprehenders tended to use singular strategies, working either at the program text or real-world level, but not both. Fourteen references are listed as well as six related technical reports and publications. (Author/MES)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research, Arlington, VA. Personnel and Training Research Programs Office.
Authoring Institution: Chicago Univ., IL. Graduate School of Business.