A comparative case study of programming language expansion ratios : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Technology in Computing Technology at Massey University

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Massey University
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An effective size estimation tool must allow an estimate to be obtained early enough to be useful. Some difficulties have been observed in using the traditional lines of code (LOC) measure in software sizing, much of which is due to the need for more detailed design information to be available before an accurate estimate can be achieved. This does not allow the result to be obtained early in the software development process. Moreover, the inherent language-dependency of LOC tends to restrict its use. An alternative measure using Function Point Analysis, developed by Albrecht, has been found to be an effective tool for sizing purposes and allows early sizing. However, the function point measure does not have a sufficient historical base of information for it to be used successfully in all cases with existing models of the software development process. Because lines of code already have a sense of "universality" as the de facto basic measure of software size, it can serve as a useful extension to function points. Language Expansion Ratios are seen as the key in providing such an extension by bridging the gap between function point and lines of code. Several sizing models have made use of expansion ratios in an effort to provide an equivalent size in lines of code in anticipation of its use in productivity studies and related cost models. However, its use has been associated with ranges of variability. The purpose of this thesis is to study Language Expansion Ratios, and the factors affecting them, for several languages based on a standard case study. This thesis surveys the prevailing issues of software size measurement and describes the role and importance of language expansion ratios. It presents the standard case study used and the methodology for the empirical study. The experimental results of measurements of the actual system are analysed and these form the basis for appropriate conclusions on the validity and applicability of the expansion ratios studied. This research shows that the use of Language Expansion Ratios is valid but it is considered inadequate when applied in its present form. This was found to be due to the weighting factors associated with the appropriate function value obtained for the different functional categories of the system.
Software engineering, Computer software, Function point analysis, Evaluation