Structural Epochs in Software Evolution

Authored by: Bo I. Sandén , Patrick A. Gray , Phillip Laplante

Encyclopedia of Software Engineering

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420059779
eBook ISBN: 9781351249270
Adobe ISBN:


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The complexity of object-oriented software can be measured based on topological features of the code’s hierarchical organization at the method, class, package, and component levels. Research suggests that as certain software products evolve, this complexity shifts from lower to higher structural levels or vice versa. In a pioneering study, such structural shifts called “epochs” were found in three widely used open-source software programs. In broader follow-up research, epochs were found in 27 of 30 open-source software projects. In addition, the findings suggest that refactoring leads to such shifts of complexity between structural levels.

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