Change Impact Analysis for Generic Libraries
Paper in proceedings, 2006
Since the Standard Template Library (STL), generic libraries in C++ rely on concepts to precisely specify the requirements of generic algorithms (function templates) on their parameters (template arguments). Modifying the definition of a concept even slightly, can have a potentially large impact on the (interfaces of the) entire library. In particular the non-local effects of a change, however, make its impact difficult to determine by hand. In this paper we propose a \conceptual change impact analysis (CCIA), which determines the impact of changes of the conceptual specification of a generic library. The analysis is organized in a pipe-and-filter manner, where the first stage finds any kind of impact, the second stage various specific kinds of impact. Both stages describe reachability algorithms, which operate on a conceptual dependence graph. In a case study, we apply CCIA to a new proposal for STL iterator concepts, which is under review by the C++ standardization committee. The analysis shows a number of unexpected incompatibilities and, for certain STL algorithms, a loss of genericity.