A Comparison of Source Code Representation Methods to Predict Vulnerability Inducing Code Changes

Halepmollası R., Hanifi K., Fouladi R. F., Tosun A.

18th International Conference on Evaluation of Novel Approaches to Software Engineering, ENASE 2023, Prague, Czech Republic, 24 - 25 April 2023, vol.2023-April, pp.469-478 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 2023-April
  • Doi Number: 10.5220/0011859300003464
  • City: Prague
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Page Numbers: pp.469-478
  • Keywords: Abstract Syntax Tree, Embeddings, Software Metrics, Software Vulnerabilities
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Vulnerability prediction is a data-driven process that utilizes previous vulnerability records and their associated fixes in software development projects. Vulnerability records are rarely observed compared to other defects, even in large projects, and are usually not directly linked to the related code changes in the bug tracking system. Thus, preparing a vulnerability dataset and building a predicting model is quite challenging. There exist many studies proposing software metrics-based or embedding/token-based approaches to predict software vulnerabilities over code changes. In this study, we aim to compare the performance of two different approaches in predicting code changes that induce vulnerabilities. While the first approach is based on an aggregation of software metrics, the second approach is based on embedding representation of the source code using an Abstract Syntax Tree and skip-gram techniques. We employed Deep Learning and popular Machine Learning algorithms to predict vulnerability-inducing code changes. We report our empirical analysis over code changes on the publicly available SmartSHARK dataset that we extended by adding real vulnerability data. Software metrics-based code representation method shows a better classification performance than embedding-based code representation method in terms of recall, precision and F1-Score.