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Title: Analogy-based software project effort estimation : contributions to projects similarity measurement, attribute selection and attribute weighting algorithms for analogy-based effort estimation
Author: Azzeh, Mohammad Y. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 4724
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2010
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Software effort estimation by analogy is a viable alternative method to other estimation techniques, and in many cases, researchers found it outperformed other estimation methods in terms of accuracy and practitioners' acceptance. However, the overall performance of analogy based estimation depends on two major factors: similarity measure and attribute selection & weighting. Current similarity measures such as nearest neighborhood techniques have been criticized that have some inadequacies related to attributes relevancy, noise and uncertainty in addition to the problem of using categorical attributes. This research focuses on improving the efficiency and flexibility of analogy-based estimation to overcome the abovementioned inadequacies. Particularly, this thesis proposes two new approaches to model and handle uncertainty in similarity measurement method and most importantly to reflect the structure of dataset on similarity measurement using Fuzzy modeling based Fuzzy C-means algorithm. The first proposed approach called Fuzzy Grey Relational Analysis method employs combined techniques of Fuzzy set theory and Grey Relational Analysis to improve local and global similarity measure and tolerate imprecision associated with using different data types (Continuous and Categorical). The second proposed approach presents the use of Fuzzy numbers and its concepts to develop a practical yet efficient approach to support analogy-based systems especially at early phase of software development. Specifically, we propose a new similarity measure and adaptation technique based on Fuzzy numbers. We also propose a new attribute subset selection algorithm and attribute weighting technique based on the hypothesis of analogy-based estimation that assumes projects that are similar in terms of attribute value are also similar in terms of effort values, using row-wise Kendall rank correlation between similarity matrix based project effort values and similarity matrix based project attribute values. A literature review of related software engineering studies revealed that the existing attribute selection techniques (such as brute-force, heuristic algorithms) are restricted to the choice of performance indicators such as (Mean of Magnitude Relative Error and Prediction Performance Indicator) and computationally far more intensive. The proposed algorithms provide sound statistical basis and justification for their procedures. The performance figures of the proposed approaches have been evaluated using real industrial datasets. Results and conclusions from a series of comparative studies with conventional estimation by analogy approach using the available datasets are presented. The studies were also carried out to statistically investigate the significant differences between predictions generated by our approaches and those generated by the most popular techniques such as: conventional analogy estimation, neural network and stepwise regression. The results and conclusions indicate that the two proposed approaches have potential to deliver comparable, if not better, accuracy than the compared techniques. The results also found that Grey Relational Analysis tolerates the uncertainty associated with using different data types. As well as the original contributions within the thesis, a number of directions for further research are presented. Most chapters in this thesis have been disseminated in international journals and highly refereed conference proceedings.
Supervisor: Neagu, Daniel C. ; Cowling, Peter I. Sponsor: Applied Science University, Jordan.
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Analogy-based effort estimation ; Attributes relevancy ; Fuzzy Grey Relational Analysis ; Fuzzy numbers ; Attribute weighting ; Attribute selection ; Algorithms