Theory of relative defect proneness: Replicated studies on the functional form of the size-defect relationship

A. Güneş Koru, Khaled El Emam, Dongsong Zhang, Hongfang Liu, Divya Mathew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study, we investigated the functional form of the size-defect relationship for software modules through replicated studies conducted on ten open-source products. We consistently observed a power-law relationship where defect proneness increases at a slower rate compared to size. Therefore, smaller modules are proportionally more defect prone. We externally validated the application of our results for two commercial systems. Given limited and fixed resources for code inspections, there would be an impressive improvement in the cost-effectiveness, as much as 341% in one of the systems, if a smallest-first strategy were preferred over a largest-first one. The consistent results obtained in this study led us to state a theory of relative defect proneness (RDP): In large-scale software systems, smaller modules will be proportionally more defect-prone compared to larger ones. We suggest that practitioners consider our results and give higher priority to smaller modules in their focused quality assurance efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-498
Number of pages26
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008

Keywords

  • Open-source software
  • Planning for software quality assurance
  • Size-defect relationship
  • Software inspections
  • Software metrics
  • Software reviews
  • Software science
  • Software testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software

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