Machine learning techniques to improve software quality

Cahill, Jaspar (2010) Machine learning techniques to improve software quality. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


A significant proportion of the cost of software development is due to software testing and maintenance. This is in part the result of the inevitable imperfections due to human error, lack of quality during the design and coding of software, and the increasing need to reduce faults to improve customer satisfaction in a competitive marketplace. Given the cost and importance of removing errors improvements in fault detection and removal can be of significant benefit. The earlier in the development process faults can be found, the less it costs to correct them and the less likely other faults are to develop. This research aims to make the testing process more efficient and effective by identifying those software modules most likely to contain faults, allowing testing efforts to be carefully targeted. This is done with the use of machine learning algorithms which use examples of fault prone and not fault prone modules to develop predictive models of quality. In order to learn the numerical mapping between module and classification, a module is represented in terms of software metrics. A difficulty in this sort of problem is sourcing software engineering data of adequate quality. In this work, data is obtained from two sources, the NASA Metrics Data Program, and the open source Eclipse project. Feature selection before learning is applied, and in this area a number of different feature selection methods are applied to find which work best. Two machine learning algorithms are applied to the data - Naive Bayes and the Support Vector Machine - and predictive results are compared to those of previous efforts and found to be superior on selected data sets and comparable on others. In addition, a new classification method is proposed, Rank Sum, in which a ranking abstraction is laid over bin densities for each class, and a classification is determined based on the sum of ranks over features. A novel extension of this method is also described based on an observed polarising of points by class when rank sum is applied to training data to convert it into 2D rank sum space. SVM is applied to this transformed data to produce models the parameters of which can be set according to trade-off curves to obtain a particular performance trade-off.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

94 since deposited on 18 May 2011
7 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 41730
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hogan, James & Thomas, Richard
Keywords: software quality, software testing, predictive models, machine learning
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 May 2011 23:41
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2017 14:41

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page