Introducing code adviser: A DFA-driven electronic programming tutor

Abejide Ade-Ibijola, Sigrid Ewert, Ian Sanders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we demonstrate a software system called Code Adviser that attempts to understand and find semantic bugs in student programs written in C++ programming language. To do this, Code Adviser has to take a model solution from a lecturer (or expert), generate many variations of the model solution, and compare student programs to the most similar model solution. The student’s program to be checked for correctness is normalized, granulated and abstracted to a string of semantic tokens — we call this the abstraction stage. Similarly, the model solutions are taken through the abstraction stage and the program strings representing all model solutions are abstracted to deterministic finite automaton (DFA) for the programming problem. Code Adviser then uses some algorithms to make inference on student’s program correctness. If the student’s program string is accepted by the problem’s DFA, it is reported as correct. Else, we make inferences on what the bug could be. Code Adviser is a promising proof of concept, and more work is currently being done to improve its inference and make it available to student programmers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImplementation and Application of Automata - 20th International Conference, CIAA 2015, Proceedings
EditorsFrank Drewes
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783319223599
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event20th International Conference on Implementation and Application of Automata, CIAA 2015 - Umea, Sweden
Duration: 18 Aug 201521 Aug 2015

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference20th International Conference on Implementation and Application of Automata, CIAA 2015


  • Bug detection
  • Program strings
  • Semantic bugs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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