Aspect-oriented programming (AOP) aims at facilitating program comprehension and maintenance in the presence of crosscutting concerns. Aspect code is often introduced and extended as the software projects evolve. Unfortunately, we still lack a good understanding of how faults are introduced in evolving aspect-oriented programs. More importantly, there is little knowledge whether existing metrics are related to typical fault introduction processes in evolving aspect-oriented code. This paper presents an exploratory study focused on the analysis of how faults are introduced during maintenance tasks involving aspects. The results indicate a recurring set of fault patterns in this context, which can better inform the design of future metrics for AOP. We also pinpoint AOP-specific fault categories which are difficult to detect with popular metrics for fault-proneness, such as coupling and code churn.
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