First Advisor

Jeanne Scholtz

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science


Computer Science


Computer software -- Human factors, Comprehension, Software maintenance



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 136 p.)


The studies reported herein compare comprehension of Ut style literate programs to that of traditional modular programs documented by embedded comments. Novice and intermediate programmers participated in three experiments designed to determine the comprehensibility of literate programs written using a language-independent system for abstraction-oriented literate programming compared with programs written using traditional modular programming techniques (traditional modular programs). Programs were written in either the C or FORTRAN programming language. Half of the subjects in each group received a literate program, while the other half received a traditional modular program with embedded documentation. Subjects received a problem specification, input and output specifications, and a language reference for use in the study. Subjects were asked to perform a program maintenance task (complete an incomplete program). The maintenance task was used as a measure of comprehension; it simulates an actual task in the software engineering industry that requires program comprehension in order to be completed. The elapsed time to effect a solution was recorded. The completed programs were judged as correct, functionally correct with syntax errors, or incorrect; several reconstructive program comprehension measures were also collected and analyzed_ The clear overall result was that subjects using the literate programs found a solution (correct or functionally correct with syntax errors) more often than did subjects using the traditional modular programs with embedded comments. In fact, none of the subjects in this study who modified the traditional programs were able to effect a solution that was totally correct, nor even one that was functionally correct with syntax errors.


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier