Modularity has been regarded as one of the most important properties of a successful software design. It has significant impact on many external quality attributes such as reusability, maintainability, and understandability. Thus, proposing metrics to measure the software modularity can be very useful. Although several metrics have been proposed to characterize some modularity-related attributes, they fail to characterize software modularity as a whole. A complex network uses network models to abstract the internal structure of complex systems, providing a general way to analyze complex systems as a whole. In this paper, we introduce the complex network theory into software engineering and employ modularity
, a metric widely used in the field of community detection in complex network research, to measure software modularity as a whole. First, a specific piece of software is represented by a software network, feature coupling network (FCN), where methods and attributes are nodes, couplings between methods and attributes are edges, and the weight on the edges denotes the coupling strength. Then, modularity
is applied to the FCN to measure software modularity. We apply the Weyuker’s criteria which is widely used in the field of software metrics, to validate the modularity
as a software metric theoretically, and also perform an empirical evaluation using open-source Java software systems to show its effectiveness as a software metric to measure software modularity.
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