Linking e-mails and source code artifacts
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SubjectD.2.7 [Distribution, Maintenance, and Enhancement]: Restructuring, reverse engineering, and reengineering
E-mails concerning the development issues of a system constitute an important source of information about high-level design decisions, low-level implementation concerns, and the social structure of developers. Establishing links between e-mails and the software artifacts they discuss is a non-trivial problem, due to the inherently informal nature of human communication. Different approaches can be brought into play to tackle this trace-ability issue, but the question of how they can be evaluated remains unaddressed, as there is no recognized benchmark against which they can be compared. In this article we present such a benchmark, which we created through the manual inspection of a statistically significant number of e-mails pertaining to six unrelated software systems. We then use our benchmark to measure the effectiveness of a number of approaches, ranging from lightweight approaches based on regular expressions to full-fledged information retrieval approaches.