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Search-based refactoring: Metrics are not enough

White, David R.; Simons, Chris; Singer, Jeremy; White, David


David R. White

Jeremy Singer

David White


Marcio Barros

Yvan Labiche


© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. Search-based Software Engineering (SBSE) techniques have been applied extensively to refactor software, often based on metrics that describe the object-oriented structure of an application. Recent work shows that in some cases applying popular SBSE tools to open-source software does not necessarily lead to an improved version of the software as assessed by some subjective criteria. Through a survey of professionals, we investigate the relationship between popular SBSE refactoring metrics and the subjective opinions of software engineers. We find little or no correlation between the two. Through qualitative analysis, we find that a simple static view of software is insufficient to assess software quality, and that software quality is dependent on factors that are not amenable to measurement via metrics. We recommend that future SBSE refactoring research should incorporate information about the dynamic behaviour of software, and conclude that a human-in-the-loop approach may be the only way to refactor software in a manner helpful to an engineer.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (published)
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 23, 2015
Journal Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Print ISSN 0302-9743
Electronic ISSN 1611-3349
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9275
Pages 47-61
Series Title Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Series Number 9275
Book Title Search-Based Software Engineering: 7th International Symposium SSBSE 2015
ISBN 9783319221823
Keywords search-based software engineering, metrics, optimisation, software quality
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Apr 22, 2016