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Sun 22 - Fri 27 October 2017 Vancouver, Canada
Fri 27 Oct 2017 14:15 - 14:37 at Regency A - Usability and Deadlock Chair(s): Jonathan Aldrich

Providing better supports for debugging type errors has been an active research area in the last three decades. Numerous approaches from different perspectives have been developed. Most approaches work well under certain conditions only, for example, when type errors are caused by single leaves and when type annotations are correct. However, the research community is still unaware which conditions hold in practice and what the real debugging situations look like. We address this problem with a study of 4 program datasets, which were written in different years, using different languages, by students with different backgrounds, and were of diverse sizes. They include more than 60,000 programs, among which more than 3,900 are ill typed. We investigated all the ill-typed programs, and our results indicate that current error debugging support is far from sufficient in practice since only about 30% of all type errors were caused by single leaves. Our study also provides many insights about the debugging behaviors of students in functional programming, which could be exploited for developing more effective error debuggers.