A Validation of Object-Oriented Design Metrics as Quality Indicators

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1998-10-15

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This paper presents the results of a study conducted at the University of Maryland in which we experimentally investigated the suite of Object-Oriented (OO) design metrics introduced by [Chidamber&Kemerer, 1994]. In order to do this, we assessed these metrics as predictors of fault-prone classes. This study is complementary to [Li&Henry, 1993] where the same suite of metrics had been used to assess frequencies of maintenance changes to classes. To perform our validation accurately, we collected data on the development of eight medium-sized information management systems based on identical requirements. All eight projects were developed using a sequential life cycle model, a well-known OO analysis/design method and the C++ programming language. Based on experimental results, the advantages and drawbacks of these OO metrics are discussed. Several of Chidamber&Kemerer's OO metrics appear to be useful to predict class fault-proneness during the early phases of the life-cycle. We also showed that they are, on our data set, better predictors than "traditional" code metrics, which can only be collected at a later phase of the software development processes. (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-95-40)

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