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A Unified Framework for Cohesion Measurement in Object-Oriented Systems

: Briand, L.C.; Daly, J.; Wüst, J.


Empirical Software Engineering 3 (1998), Nr.1, S.65-117 : Ill., Lit.
ISSN: 1382-3256
Fraunhofer IESE ()
cohesion; measurement; object-oriented

The increasing importance being placed on software measurement has lead 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 cohesion measurement in object-oriented systems. However, despite a very interesting 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 cohesion 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 i n a fully consistent and operational manner. Second, to provide a structured synthesis, a review of the existing approaches to measure cohesion 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. Finally, a review of the empirical validation work concerning existing cohesion measures is provided. 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 several important issues: (i) many measures are not defined in a fully operational form, (ii) rel ative ly few of them are based on explicit empirical models as recommended by measurement theory, and (iii) an even smaller number of measures have been empirically validated; thus, the usefulness of many measures has yet to be demonstrated.