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Estimating software project effort using analogies

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2 Author(s)
M. Shepperd ; Dept. of Comput., Bournemouth Univ., Poole, UK ; C. Schofield

Accurate project effort prediction is an important goal for the software engineering community. To date most work has focused upon building algorithmic models of effort, for example COCOMO. These can be calibrated to local environments. We describe an alternative approach to estimation based upon the use of analogies. The underlying principle is to characterize projects in terms of features (for example, the number of interfaces, the development method or the size of the functional requirements document). Completed projects are stored and then the problem becomes one of finding the most similar projects to the one for which a prediction is required. Similarity is defined as Euclidean distance in n-dimensional space where n is the number of project features. Each dimension is standardized so all dimensions have equal weight. The known effort values of the nearest neighbors to the new project are then used as the basis for the prediction. The process is automated using a PC-based tool known as ANGEL. The method is validated on nine different industrial datasets (a total of 275 projects) and in all cases analogy outperforms algorithmic models based upon stepwise regression. From this work we argue that estimation by analogy is a viable technique that, at the very least, can be used by project managers to complement current estimation techniques

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 11 )