A Unified Framework for Coupling Measurement in Object-Oriented Systems

Lionel C. Briand, John W. Daly, Jürgen K. Wüst

Lionel C. Briand, John W. Daly, Jürgen K. Wüst, A Unified Framework for Coupling Measurement in Object-Oriented Systems, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 25(1):91-121, January 1999.

The increasing importance being placed on software measurement has led to an increased amount of research developing new software measures. Given the importance of object-oriented development techniques, one specific area where this has occurred is coupling measurement in object-oriented systems. However, despite a very interesting and rich body of work, there is little understanding of the motivation and empirical hypotheses behind many of these new measures. It is often difficult to determine how such measures relate to one another and for which application they can be used. As a consequence, it is very difficult for practitioners and researchers to obtain a clear picture of the state-of-the-art in order to select or define measures for object-oriented systems. This situation is addressed and clarified through several different activities. First, a standardized terminology and formalism for expressing measures is provided which ensures that all measures using it are expressed in a fully consistent and operational manner. Second, to provide a structured synthesis, a review of the existing frameworks and measures for coupling measurement in object-oriented systems takes place. Third, a unified framework, based on the issues discovered in the review, is provided and all existing measures are then classified according to this framework. This paper contributes to an increased understanding of the state-of-the-art: A mechanism is provided for comparing measures and their potential use, integrating existing measures which examine the same concepts in different ways, and facilitating more rigorous decision making regarding the definition of new measures and the selection of existing measures for a specific goal of measurement. In addition, our review of the state-of-the-art highlights that many measures are not defined in a fully operational form, and relatively few of them are based on explicit empirical models, as recommended by measurement theory.


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