New study finds programming language has no impact on number of bugs

Posted on Thursday, January 31 2019 @ 10:40 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
The Register writes about a new paper that debunks an earlier study that was presented at the 2014 Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) conference. At the time, the "A Large Scale Study of Programming Languages and Code Quality in Github" paper found that some programming languages lead to higher levels of buggy code. Among other things, one of the findings was that code written in C, C++, Objective-C, JavaScript, PHP, and Python tended to have more bugs than code written in other languages.

Other researchers tried to replicate the study but found no firm evidence for the assumption that programming language matters:
The original study purported to establish a correlation between programming languages and errors, one that people misinterpreted as a causal relationship, he said.

"This doesn't mean it's not true," said [Emery] Berger [, computer science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst]. "It just means that many of their claims failed to hold up. There's a joke among data scientists that if you torture the data long enough it will eventually speak. Just because you have data, it doesn't mean it's the right data to establish particular claims. GitHub repo data is a great resource, but not all facts can be ascertained by analyzing it."
Berger says it's kind of an impossible experiment to run. There may be a lot of context missing, like for example, that more programmers using Haskell have PhDs, while more popular languages like C++ and PHP are used by more average Joes. For web design and development, the most popular skill set includes a combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and knowledge of responsive design and various frameworks that can make your work easier.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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