We have published an extended Journal Version of this work with Elsevier/ScienceDirect.
Current research on code clones tries to address the question whether or not code clones are harmful for the quality of software. As most of these studies are based on the fine-grained analysis of inconsistent changes at the revision level, they capture much of the chaotic and experimental nature inherent to any ongoing software development process. Conclusions drawn from the inspection of highly fluctuating and short lived clones are likely to exaggerate the ill-effects of inconsistent changes. To gain a broader perspective, we perform an empirical study on the effect of inconsistent changes on software quality at the release level. Based on a case study on two open-source software systems, we observe that only 1% to 3% of inconsistent changes to clones introduces software defects, as opposed to substantially higher percentages reported by other studies. Our ﬁndings suggest that developers are able to effectively manage and control the evolution of cloned code at the release level.
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