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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Introduction

Software organizations can benefit greatly from an early estimation regarding the quality of their product. Because product quality information is available late in the process, corrective actions tend to be expensive [Boehm 1981]. The IEEE standard [IEEE 1990] for software engineering terminology defines the waterfall software development cycle as “a model of the software development process in which the constituent activities, typically a concept phase, requirements phase, design phase, implementation phase, test phase, and installation and checkout phase, are performed in that order, possibly with overlap but with little or no iteration.” During the development cycle, different metrics can be collected that can be related to product quality. The goal is to use such metrics to make estimates of post-release failures early in the software development cycle, during the implementation and testing phases. For example, such estimates can help focus testing and code and design reviews and affordably guide corrective actions.

The selection of metrics is dependent on using empirical techniques such as the G-Q-M principle [Basili et al. 1994] to objectively assess the importance of selecting the metrics for analysis. An internal metric (measure), such as cyclomatic complexity [McCabe 1976], is a measure derived from the product itself. An external metric is a measure of a product derived from the external assessment of the behavior of the system. For example, the number of ...

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