Linking Cyclicality and Product Quality
39 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2012 Last revised: 11 Jan 2013
Date Written: December 22, 2012
This paper examines the impact of architectural decisions on the level of defects in a product. We view products as collections of components linked together to work as an integrated whole. Previous work has established modularity (how decoupled a component is from other product components) as a critical determinant of defects, and we confirm its importance. Yet our study also provides empirical evidence for a relation between product quality and cyclicality (the extent to which a component depends on itself via other product components). We find cyclicality to be a determinant of quality that is distinct from, and no less important than, modularity. Extending this main result, we show how the cyclicality–quality relation is affected by the centrality of a component in a cycle and the distribution of a cycle across product modules. These findings, which are based on analysis of open source software development projects, have implications for the study and design of complex systems.
Keywords: Product architecture, Cycles, Modules, Iterative problem solving, Defects, Open-source Software Development, Design Iterations, Defect Proneness
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