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Technical Perspective: Borrowing Big Code to Automate Programming Activities


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Big data combined with machine learning has revolutionized fields such as computer vision, robotics, and natural language processing. In these fields, automated techniques that detect and exploit complex patterns hidden within large datasets have repeatedly outperformed techniques based on human insight and intuition.

But despite the availability of enormous amounts of code (big code) that could, in theory, be leveraged to deliver similar advances for software, programming has proved to be remarkably resistant to this kind of automation. Much programming today consists of developers deploying keyword searches against online information aggregators such as Stack Overflow to find, then manually adapt, code sequences that implement desired behaviors.


 

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