SourcererCC is Sourcerer's token-based code clone detector for very large code bases and Internet-scale project repositories. SourcererCC works at many levels of granularity such as detecting clones between files, methods, statements or blocks, in any language. This tutorial is for file-level clone detection on Java.

Additional Resources:

Before going through:

We have created an artifact in the form of a virtual machine (VM) that contains the pre-programmed set of instructions that take the user from raw source code to a database with a clone mapping, including all the intermediate steps and explanation of intermediate data types. It can be downloaded from the 'Source Materials' section of the paper ACM website or from the DéjàVu homepage (only the latter is kept updated). This VM is the easiest way to get started with SourcererCC to perform your own clone analysis. It has most of the information here. Please try this VM before contacting us.

Let's get started.

Table of Contents

  1. Tokenize source code
  2. Run SourcererCC
  3. I want to know more!

Tokenize source code:

SourcererCC is a token-based clone detector. This means that source code must go through an initial step of processing. Luckily, we have a tool do to so, which we will explain in this section.

The program needed to tokenize souce code can be found here. Start by looking at config.ini which sets the configuration for the tokenizer. You need to edit a few parameters (the parameters not covered here can be dismissed for now):

Performance parameters:

; How many projects does each process process at a time?

Where N_PROCESSES are active at any given time, and each one processes a batch of PROJECTS_BATCH projects.

To set the input you can do:

FILE_projects_list = this/is/a/path/paths.txt

where paths.txt is a list of project paths, the projects we want to find clones on. A sample of a paths.txt file would look like this:


Language configurations. Since comments are removed you need to set the language primitives for comment_inline and comment_open_tag/comment_close_tag comments. Finally, describe the File_extensions being analyzed (supports a list of extensions):

comment_inline = //
comment_open_tag = /*
comment_close_tag = */
File_extensions = .py

And then run with:

pythoon tokenizer.py zip

where zip is the extension of the individual projects in FILE_projects_list = this/is/a/path/paths.txt.

The resulting output is composed of three folders, in the same location:

The elements file id and project id always point to the same source code file or project, respectively (they work as a primary key). So a line in files_stats/* that start with 1,1 represents the same file as the line in files_tokens/* that starts with 1,1, and these came from the project in bookkeeping_projs/* whose line starts with 1. The number of lines in bookkeeping_projs/* corresponds to the total number of projects analyzed, the number of lines in files_stats/* is the same as files_tokens/* and is the same as the total number of files obtained from the projects.

Run SourcererCC

For this step we will run SourcererCC, which can be found here.

Start with files_tokens/ from the previous step:

cat files_tokens/* > blocks.file
cp blocks.file SourcererCC/clone-detector/input/dataset/

Inside clone-detector/ it is worth looking at sourcerer-cc.properties, in particular at:

# Ignore all files outside these bounds

where you can set an upper and lower bound for file clone detection. You can dismiss the other parameters for now.

To change the percentage of clone similarity, look at runnodes.sh, line 9:


where 8 means clones will be flagged at 80% similarity (current setup), 7 at 70%, and so on. The JVM parameters can be configured in the same file, at line 20.

Finally, run:

python controller.py

This tool splits the task by multiple nodes, which must be aggregated in the end:

cat clone-detector/NODE_*/output8.0/query_* > results.pairs

The resulting information is a list of file id pairs which are clones. These ids correspond to the ids generated in the tokenization phase. An example output is:


In this case we have the clone pairs (1,2) and (2,3). To know which file corresponds to 1, we can look at the folder files_stats/* and look for the line with the unique id 1.

I want to know more!

That is great :+1: In the VM we refer to above you can find instructions and programs to import everything into an easily queryable database and perform statistic analysis on this information. Our OOPSLA'17 paper is a great way to understand out typical pipeline and which kind of results you can obtain. Finally, if you have any question or need more technical help (tweaking performance parameters for you hardware, for example), feel free to contact us.