Neural networks and their application to metrics research

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Lin, Burch C.
Zage, Wayne M.
Issue Date
Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Computer Science
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In the development of software, time and resources are limited. As a result, developers collect metrics in order to more effectively allocate resources to meet time constraints. For example, if one could collect metrics to determine, with accuracy, which modules were error-prone and which were error-free, one could allocate personnel to work only on those error-prone modules.There are three items of concern when using metrics. First, with the many different metrics that have been defined, one may not know which metrics to collect. Secondly, the amount of metrics data collected can be staggering. Thirdly, interpretation of multiple metrics may provide a better indication of error-proneness than any single metric.This thesis researched the accuracy of a neural network, an unconventional model, in building a model that can determine whether a module is error-prone from an input of a suite of metrics. The accuracy of the neural network model was compared with the accuracy of a linear regression model, a standard statistical model, that has the same input and output. In other words, we attempted to find whether metrics correlated with error-proneness. The metrics were gathered from three different software projects. The suite of metrics that was used to build the models was a subset of a larger collection of metrics that was reduced using factor analysis.The conclusion of this thesis is that, from the projects analyzed, neither the neural network model nor the logistic regression model provide acceptable accuracies for real use. We cannot conclude whether one model provides better accuracy than the other.