BDCI: Behavioral Driven Conflict Identification

Fabrizio Pastore, Leonardo Mariani, Daniela Micucci

Source Code Management (SCM) systems support software evolution by providing features, such as version control, branching, and conflict detection. Despite the presence of these features, support to parallel software development is often limited. SCM systems can only address a subset of the conflicts that might be introduced by developers when concurrently working on multiple parallel branches. In fact, SCM systems can detect textual conflicts, which are generated by the concurrent modification of the same program locations, but they are unable to detect higher-order conflicts, which are generated by the concurrent modification of different program locations that generate program misbehaviors once merged. Higher-order conflicts are painful to detect and expensive to fix because they might be originated by the interference of apparently unrelated changes. In this paper we present Behavioral Driven Conflict Identification (BDCI), a novel approach to conflict detection. BDCI moves the analysis of conflicts from the source code level to the level of program behavior by generating and comparing behavioral models. The analysis based on behavioral models can reveal interfering changes as soon as they are introduced in the SCM system, even if they do not introduce any textual conflict. To evaluate the effectiveness and the cost of the proposed approach, we developed BDCIf , a specific instance of BDCI dedicated to the detection of higher-order conflicts related to the functional behavior of a program. The evidence collected by analyzing multiple versions of Git and Redis suggests that BDCIf can effectively detect higher-order conflicts and report how changes might interfere.

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