What Questions Do Developers Ask About Julia?

Dibyendu Brinto Bose, Gerald Gannod, Akond Rahman, Kaitlyn Cottrell in ACM Southeast (ACMSE) 2022, 2022 Pre-print

The programming language Julia is designed to solve the two language problem, where developers who write scientific software can achieve desired performance, without sacrificing productivity. Since its inception in 2012, developers who have been using other programming languages have transitioned to Julia. A systematic investigation of the questions that developers ask about Julia can help in understanding the challenges that developers face while using Julia. Such understanding can be helpful (i) for toolsmiths who can construct tools so that developers can maximize their experience of using Julia, and (ii) for Julia language maintainers with empirical evidence on areas to improve the language as well as the Julia ecosystem. We conduct an empirical study with 3,093 Stack Overflow posts where we identify 13 categories of questions related to Julia-based software development. We observe developers to ask about a diverse set of topics, such as GC, Julia’s garbage collector, JuMP, a domain-specific language constructed using Julia, and symbols, a metaprogramming utility in Julia. Based on our emerging results, we recommend enhancing support for developers with Julia-based tools and techniques for cross language transfer, type-related assistance, and package resolution.