The paper “The Smelly Eight: An Empirical Study on the Prevalence of Code Smells in Quantum Computing”, co-authored by LASIGE’s research members José Campos and André Souto has been published at the 45th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Software Engineering (core A*).
Quantum Computing (QC) is a fast-growing field that has enhanced the emergence of new programming languages and frameworks. Furthermore, the increased availability of computational resources has also contributed to an influx in the development of quantum programs. Given that classical and QC are significantly different due to the intrinsic nature of quantum programs, several aspects of QC (e.g., performance, bugs) have been investigated, and novel approaches have been proposed. However, from a purely quantum perspective, maintenance, one of the major steps in a software development life-cycle, has not been considered by researchers yet. Thus, this paper fills this gap and investigates the prevalence of code smells in quantum programs as an indicator of maintenance issues. This work starts by defining eight quantum-specific smells and validates them through a survey with 35 quantum developers. Since no tool specifically aims to detect quantum smells, this paper also proposes a novel tool called [QSmell] that supports the proposed quantum-specific smells.
Finally, this paper conducts an empirical investigation to analyze the prevalence of quantum-specific smells in 15 open-source quantum programs. Results show that 11 programs (73.33%) contain at least one smell and, on average, a program has three smells.
A pre-print version of the paper is available: here.