On the Impact of Rigorous Approaches on the Quality of Development

G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Marta Olszewska
Publisher: Åbo Akademi University
Publication year: 2011
Number of pages: 218
ISBN: 978-952-12-2671-7


Abstract

Software systems are expanding and becoming increasingly present in
everyday activities. The constantly evolving society demands that they deliver
more functionality, are easy to use and work as expected. All these challenges
increase the size and complexity of a system. People may not be aware of a
presence of a software system, until it malfunctions or even fails to perform. The
concept of being able to depend on the software is particularly significant when
it comes to the critical systems. At this point quality of a system is regarded as
an essential issue, since any deficiencies may lead to considerable money loss or
life endangerment.

Traditional development methods may not ensure a sufficiently high level of
quality. Formal methods, on the other hand, allow us to achieve a high level of
rigour and can be applied to develop a complete system or only a critical part of
it. Such techniques, applied during system development starting at early design
stages, increase the likelihood of obtaining a system that works as required.
However, formal methods are sometimes considered difficult to utilise in
traditional developments. Therefore, it is important to make them more
accessible and reduce the gap between the formal and traditional development
methods. This thesis explores the usability of rigorous approaches by giving an
insight into formal designs with the use of graphical notation. The
understandability of formal modelling is increased due to a compact
representation of the development and related design decisions.

The central objective of the thesis is to investigate the impact that rigorous
approaches have on quality of developments. This means that it is necessary to
establish certain techniques for evaluation of rigorous developments. Since we
are studying various development settings and methods, specific measurement
plans and a set of metrics need to be created for each setting. Our goal is to
provide methods for collecting data and record evidence of the applicability of
rigorous approaches. This would support the organisations in making decisions
about integration of formal methods into their development processes.

It is important to control the software development, especially in its initial
stages. Therefore, we focus on the specification and modelling phases, as well as
related artefacts, e.g. models. These have significant influence on the quality of a
final system. Since application of formal methods may increase the complexity
of a system, it may impact its maintainability, and thus quality. Our goal is to
leverage quality of a system via metrics and measurements, as well as generic
refinement patterns, which are applied to a model and a specification. We argue
that they can facilitate the process of creating software systems, by e.g.
controlling complexity and providing the modelling guidelines. Moreover, we
find them as additional mechanisms for quality control and improvement, also
for rigorous approaches.

The main contribution of this thesis is to provide the metrics and
measurements that help in assessing the impact of rigorous approaches on
developments. We establish the techniques for the evaluation of certain aspects
of quality, which are based on structural, syntactical and process related
characteristics of an early-stage development artefacts, i.e. specifications and
models. The presented approaches are applied to various case studies. The
results of the investigation are juxtaposed with the perception of domain experts.
It is our aspiration to promote measurements as an indispensable part of quality
control process and a strategy towards the quality improvement.


Keywords

Maintainability, Measurement, Quality Assessment, Rigorous Systems, Software Development, Software Metrics


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Last updated on 2019-19-10 at 04:58