Self-admitted technical debt classification using natural language processing word embeddings

Ahmed F. Sabbah, Abualsoud A. Hanani


Recent studies show that it is possible to detect technical dept automatically from source code comments intentionally created by developers, a phenomenon known as self-admitted technical debt. This study proposes a system by which a comment or commit is classified as one of five dept types, namely, requirement, design, defect, test, and documentation. In addition to the traditional term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF), several word embeddings methods produced by different pre-trained language models were used for feature extraction, such as Word2Vec, GolVe, bidirectional encoder representations from transformers (BERT), and FastText. The generated features were used to train a set of classifiers including Naive Bayes (NB), random forest (RF), support vector machines (SVM), and two configurations of convolutional neural network (CNN). Two datasets were used to train and test the proposed systems. Our collected dataset (A-dataset) includes a total of 1,513 comments and commits manually labeled. Additionally, a dataset, consisting of 4,071 labeled comments, used in previous studies (M-dataset) was also used in this study. The RF classifier achieved an accuracy of 0.822 with A-dataset and 0.820 with the M-dataset. CNN with A-dataset achieved an accuracy of 0.838 using BERT features. With Mdataset, the CNN achieves an accuracy of 0.809 and 0.812 with BERT and Word2Vec, respectively.


bidirectional encoder representations from transformers; convolutional neural network; FastText; self-admitted technical dept; software engineering; technical dept Word2Vec;

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International Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering (IJECE)
p-ISSN 2088-8708, e-ISSN 2722-2578