Published on Wed May 27 2020

Code Duplication and Reuse in Jupyter Notebooks

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Duplicating one's own code makes it faster to write software. This expediency is particularly valuable for users of computational notebooks. Duplication allows notebook users to quickly test hypotheses and iterate over data. In this paper, we explore how much, how and from where code duplication occurs in computational notebooks, and identify potential barriers to code reuse. Previous work in the area of computational notebooks describes developers' motivations for reuse and duplication but does not show how much reuse occurs or which barriers they face when reusing code. To address this gap, we first analyzed GitHub repositories for code duplicates contained in a repository's Jupyter notebooks, and then conducted an observational user study of code reuse, where participants solved specific tasks using notebooks. Our findings reveal that repositories in our sample have a mean self-duplication rate of 7.6%. However, in our user study, few participants duplicated their own code, preferring to reuse code from online sources.