A Deep Learning Approach to Identifying Source Code in Images and Video

J. Ott, A. Atchison, P. Harnack, A. Bergh, E. Linstead. MSR 2018


While substantial progress has been made in mining code on an Internet scale, efforts to date have been overwhelmingly focused on data sets where source code is represented natively as text. Large volumes of source code available online and embedded in technical videos have remained largely unexplored, due in part to the complexity of extraction when code is represented with images. Existing approaches to code extraction and indexing in this environment rely heavily on computationally intense optical character recognition. To improve the ease and efficiency of identifying this embedded code, as well as identifying similar code examples, we develop a deep learning solution based on convolutional neural networks and autoencoders. Focusing on Java for proof of concept, our technique is able to identify the presence of typeset and handwritten source code in thousands of video images with 85.6%-98.6% accuracy based on syntactic and contextual features learned through deep architectures. When combined with traditional approaches, this provides a more scalable basis for video indexing that can be incorporated into existing software search and mining tools.