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The propensity to make programming errors and the rates of error detection and correction are dependent on program complexity. Knowledge of these relationships can be used to avoid errorprone structures in software design and to devise a testing strategy which is based on anticipated difficulty of error detection and correction. An experiment in software error data collection and analysis was conducted in order to study these relationships under conditions where the error data could be carefully defined and collected. Several complexity measures which can be defined in terms of the directed graph representation of a program, such as cyclomatic number, were analyzed with respect to the following error characteristics: errors found, time between error detections, and error correction time. Signifiant relationships were found between complexity measures and error charateristics. The meaning of directed grph structural properties in terms of the complexity of the programming and testing tasks was examined.
Date of Publication: May 1979