lisa /

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LISA is a highly generic multi-revision graph database and computation engine designed for analyzing software artifacts that exist in many revisions of a project.

It avoids redundancy when analyzing multiple revisions by loading artifacts from different revisions into a shared representation where only the smallest delta between revisions requires extra space. Computations also run on entire ranges of revisions where no change occured at the sub-graph level.

For more information, please refer to this paper

LISA works on Linux and Mac.

Table of Contents


The lisa-quickstart repository contains information on how to try out LISA or to use it as a library. If you're not interested in the implementation or extension of LISA itself, it provides a better starting point.

Project structure

LISA is split into multiple sub-projects. The lisa-core contains the generic framework components which exist independently of any language or analysis. The lisa-antlr project contains grammars used to create ANTLR-based parsers and the lisa-module project contains various parsers and pre-composed analyses.


The following tools need to be installed in order to build and use LISA core:

  • sbt >= 0.13.12
  • JRE 8 (JRE 7 is not supported)

If you want to use the native JDK JavaParser instead of the ANTLR generated parser you also need to install JDK 8 and not just JRE.

Building & Testing

To build LISA, you can use sbt:

sbt compile

To run all default tests, run

sbt test

To build self-contained jar files for each sub-project, run

sbt assembly

Using LISA as a library

On its own, lisa-core does not provide any parsers or analyses. It's possible to either use existing ones from lisa-module or provide new, custom built parsers and analyses.

To use only lisa-core as a library, place the following in your build.sbt

libraryDependencies += "lisa-core" % "lisa-core" % "0.2.2" from ""

To use the parsers and analyses contained in lisa-module, add the following instead:

libraryDependencies += "lisa-module" % "lisa-module" % "0.2.2" from ""

In the following example, we want to analyze a project that contains mixed C# and Javascript code. This example can be run by executing

sbt ";project lisa-module ;test:runMain ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.misc.ReadmeExample"
import ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.core.public.LisaComputation
import ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.core.source.GitAgent
import ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.module.parser.{AntlrCSharpParser,AntlrJavascriptParser}
import ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.module.analysis.UniversalAnalysisSuite
import ch.uzh.ifi.seal.lisa.module.persistence.CSVPersistence

object ReadmeExample extends App {
  // a unique identifier used for to name log files and actor systems
  implicit val uid = "lisa-jint"
  // the parser we want to use
  val parsers = List(AntlrCSharpParser, AntlrJavascriptParser)
  // provide access to the sources
  val sources = new GitAgent(parsers,
    url = "",
    localDirPath = "/tmp/example",
    start = Some("1db58da6bb1b931b1cfc7d454d18e25061ae3cb7"),
    end = Some("e6ea95d427b2ed7a13112dfa2ca26d60ac71249e")
  // the analyses we want to run. Multiple suites can be merged using '+'
  val analyses = UniversalAnalysisSuite
  // how we want to persist the results
  val persistence = new CSVPersistence("/tmp/jint-results")
  // prepare a computation
  val c = new LisaComputation(sources, analyses, persistence)
  // run the computation

Writing new analyses

To formulate new analyses, it's best to first familiarize with the Signal/Collect computation paradigm:

Refer to existing analyses contained in lisa-module, for example MccAnalysis.scala to observe how they are implemented.

In general, one needs to define a case class to hold the analysis data (e.g. Mcc on line 15 of MccAnalysis), a function that determines how the analysis gets started (like on line 19 of MccAnalysis), and a class which represents the message which is transmitted between vertices (MccPacket on line 25). This class needs to specify how the message is processed (collect on line 26).

Memory requirements

Depending on the size of the projects to be analyzed, LISA requires a large amount of memory. Be sure to provide enough memory to the JVM by editing .sbtopts and setting suitable values for Xmx and Xms.


Copyright 2017 Carol V. Alexandru

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.