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Code reuse through copying and pasting leads to so-called software clones. These clones can be roughly categorized into identical fragments (type-1 clones), fragments with parameter substitution (type-2 clones), and similar fragments that differ through modified,deleted, or added statements (type-3 clones). Although there has been extensive research on detecting clones, detection of type-3 clones is still an open research issue due to the inherent vaguenessin their definition. In this paper, we analyze type-3 clones detected by state-of-the-art tools and investigate type-3 clones in terms of their syntactic differences. Then, we derive their underlying semantic abstractions from their syntactic differences. Finally, we investigate whether there are any additional code characteristics that indicate that a tool-suggested clone candidate is a real type-3 clone from a human's perspective. Our findings can help developers of clone detectors to improve their tools.
Date of Conference: 20-21 Sept. 2009