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Case Fixer


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

When I code, my most common error is to get the case of a variable incorrect. Sometimes it is an ambiguity like HashTable vs Hashtable. Other times it is a flying cap, like ITem instead of Item.

Your job is to write a program that will automatically fix these errors. It uses the declaration as the definitive spelling and then propagates it.

Programmers will probably not trust it at first, so they will want to ok each individual change.

This is considerably more difficult than you might first guess. You may legitimately have the strings HashTable, hashtable and hashTable in a pathological program. You need analysis at least as deep as a compiler’s to help you guess what was intended for an undefined symbol. You also likely want to clean up comments as well. See parser in the Java & Internet Glossary.

To make life easier, you might use the error list output of some particular compiler as input to your program to help you identify variable references that could benefit from case fixing. You could write a mindless case fixer that relies on the programmer to figure out which instances of the names should be changed and simply offers him a selection of variant spellings that appeared as the definitive one. This technique may also handle slightly misspelled variables as well.

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