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Design is fundamental to software development but can be demanding to perform. Thus, to assist the software designer, evolutionary computing is being increasingly applied using machine-based, quantitative fitness functions to evolve software designs. However, in nature, elegance and symmetry play a crucial role in the reproductive fitness of various organisms. In addition, subjective evaluation has also been exploited in interactive evolutionary computation (IEC). Therefore, to investigate the role of elegance and symmetry in software design, four novel elegance measures are proposed which are based on the evenness of distribution of design elements. In controlled experiments in a dynamic IEC environment, designers are presented with visualizations of object-oriented software designs, which they rank according to a subjective assessment of elegance. For three out of the four elegance measures proposed, it is found that a significant correlation exists between elegance values and reward elicited. These three elegance measures assess the evenness of distribution of 1) attributes and methods among classes; 2) external couples between classes; and 3) the ratio of attributes to methods. It is concluded that symmetrical elegance is in some way significant in software design, and that this can be exploited in dynamic, multiobjective IEC to produce elegant software designs.
Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:42 , Issue: 6 )
Date of Publication: Nov. 2012