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The Structure and Value of Modularity in Software Design

Sullivan, Kevin; Griswold, William; Cai, Yuanfang; Hallen, Ben
Sullivan, Kevin
Griswold, William
Cai, Yuanfang
Hallen, Ben
The concept of information hiding modularity is a cornerstone of modern software design thought, but its formulation remains casual and its emphasis on changeability is imperfectly related to the goal of creating value in a given context. We need better models of the structure and value of information hiding, for both their explanatory power and prescriptive utility. We evaluate the potential of a new theory-developed to account for the influence of modularity on the evolution of the computer industry-to inform software design. The theory uses design structure matrices to model designs and real options techniques to value them. To test the potential utility of the theory for software we represent a model software system in its terms-Parnas's KWIC-and evaluate the results. We contribute an extension to design structure matrices and show that the options results are consistent with Parnas's conclusions. Our results suggest that such a theory does have potential to help inform software design.
University of Virginia, Department of Computer Science, 2001
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