Friday, February 17, 2012

SOSA Manuel, MIHM Jürgen, BROWNING Tyson
Modularity, Cycles, and Defects
INSEAD Working Paper 2012/23/TOM revised version of 2012/07/TOM

This paper examines the impact of architectural decisions on the level of defects in a product. Previous work has focused on modularity (the extent of decoupling among system elements) as the most critical architectural determinant of defects, and we confirm its importance. However, there is another critical architectural determinant that has escaped the attention of the product architecture literature: cyclicality (whereby components depend on themselves via other components). We find that cyclicality is not only a distinct determinant of quality but also at least as important as modularity. Beyond this main result, our research approach also allows us to show that architectural decisions on the connectivity of components have a greater impact on quality than do architectural decisions on the grouping of components into modules. These findings, which are based on our analysis of open-source software development projects, have implications for the study and design of complex systems.