How, and Why, Process Metrics Are Better

Foyzur Rahman and Premkumar Devanbu

UC Davis, USA

Track: Technical Research
Session: Process
Defect prediction techniques could potentially help us to focus quality-assurance efforts on the most defect-prone files. Modern statistical tools make it very easy to quickly build and deploy prediction models. Software metrics are at the heart of prediction models; understanding how and especially why different types of metrics are effective is very important for successful model deployment. In this paper we analyze the applicability and efficacy of process and code metrics from several different perspectives. We build many prediction models across 85 releases of 12 large open source projects to address the performance, stability, portability and stasis of different sets of metrics. Our results suggest that code metrics, despite widespread use in the defect prediction literature, are generally less useful than process metrics for prediction. Second, we find that code metrics have high stasis; they dont change very much from release to release. This leads to stagnation in the prediction models, leading to the same files being repeatedly predicted as defective; unfortunately, these recurringly defective files turn out to be comparatively less defect-dense.