Spoken Language Support for Software Development

Andrew Begel
(Professor Susan L. Graham)
(NSF) CCR-9988531 and (NSF) CCR-0098314

Software development environments have not changed very much in the past thirty years. While developers discuss software artifacts with one another in terms of high-level conceptual notions, their environments force them to use low-level text editors and program representations designed for compiler input. This shift in level is error-prone and inefficient; in addition, the environments create frustrating barriers for the growing numbers of software developers that suffer from repetitive strain injuries and other related disabilities that make typing difficult or impossible. Our research helps to lower those barriers by enabling developers to work at a more conceptual level and by reducing their dependence on typing and text.

The specific technical issues to be addressed in this research are driven by two approaches: multi-modal (notably speech) interaction, and semantic and structural search, navigation, and transformation. The technology we are creating is not limited to programming languages; it extends to other specification, design, and command languages that are used by developers and that can be formally defined. Our research will be embedded in the Harmonia framework, also being developed at UC Berkeley. The first prototype language for which the linguistically-based methods will be created is Java.

Our research will create the first version of a form of Java that is more naturally verbalized by human developers than the standard Java language. Methods will be created to translate this form to the same annotated abstract syntax representation used by conventional text-based tools. The major technical challenge is to resolve the ambiguities that the new form allows. That ambiguity resolution requires new algorithms for interacting lexical, syntactic, semantic, and program-specific analysis. New methods of accommodating lexical, syntactic, and semantic errors and inconsistencies will be created in order to sustain language-based services when the artifacts are incomplete and incorrectly formed.

More information (http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~harmonia) or

Send mail to the author : (abegel@eecs.berkeley.edu)

Edit this abstract