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Next for DARPA: 'Autocomplete' for Programmers


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A Rice University-led team of software experts has launched an $11-million effort to create a sophisticated tool that will both "autocomplete" and "autocorrect" code for programmers, much like the autocomplete and spell-check software on today's Web browsers and smartphones.

Credit: thinkstockphotos.com/Rice University

Rice University researchers have launched an $11-million initiative, funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to create PLINY, a tool that will both autocomplete and autocorrect code for programmers.

The PLINY project will involve more than 24 computer scientists from Rice, the University of Texas-Austin, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "This is a dream team that combines Rice's traditional strengths in programming language research with our new capabilities in big-data analytics," says Rice professor Vivek Sarkar, the project's principal investigator.

PLINY is part of DARPA's Mining and Understanding Software Enclaves program, an initiative that seeks to gather hundreds of billions of lines of publicly available open source computer code and mine it to generate a searchable database of properties, behaviors, and vulnerabilities. "We envision a system where the programmer writes a few of lines of code, hits a button, and the rest of the code appears," says Rice professor Swarat Chaudhuri.

The PLINY system will be based on a data-mining engine that continuously scans the massive repository of open source code. "Much like today's spell-correction algorithms, it will deliver the most probable solution first, but programmers will be able to cycle through possible solutions if the first answer is incorrect," says Rice professor Chris Jermaine.

From Rice University
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