Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Committee Chair

Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova

Committee Co-Chair

Hany H. Ammar

Committee Member

Hany H. Ammar

Committee Member

Gianfranco Doretto

Committee Member

Vinod Kulathumani

Committee Member

Mario Perhinschi


Software fault proneness and software development efforts are two key areas of software engineering. Improving them will significantly reduce the cost and promote good planning and practice in developing and managing software projects. Traditionally, studies of software fault proneness and software development efforts were focused on analysis and prediction, which can help to answer questions like `when’ and `where’. The focus of this dissertation is on explanatory and causality studies that address questions like `why’ and `how’.

First, we applied a case-control study to explain software fault proneness. We found that Bugfixes (Prerelease bugs), Developers, Code Churn, and Age of a file are the main contributors to the Postrelease bugs in some of the open-source projects. In terms of the interactions, we found that Bugfixes and Developers reduced the risk of post release software faults. The explanatory models were tested for prediction and their performance was either comparable or better than the top-performing classifiers used in related studies. Our results indicate that software project practitioners should pay more attention to the prerelease bug fixing process and the number of Developers assigned, as well as their interaction. Also, they need to pay more attention to the new files (less than one year old) which contributed significantly more to Postrelease bugs more than old files.

Second, we built a model that explains and predicts multiple levels of software development effort and measured the effects of several metrics and their interactions using categorical regression models. The final models for the three data sets used were statistically fit, and performance was comparable to related studies. We found that project size, duration, the existence of any type of faults, the use of first- or second generation of programming languages, and team size significantly increased the software development effort. On the other side, the interactions between duration and defective project, and between duration and team size reduced the software development effort. These results suggest that software practitioners should pay extra attention to the time of the project and the team size assigned for every task because when they increased from a low to a higher level, they significantly increased the software development effort.

Third, a structural equation modeling method was applied for causality analysis of software fault proneness. The method combined statistical and regression analysis to find the direct and indirect causes for software faults using partial least square path modeling method. We found direct and indirect paths from measurement models that led to software postrelease bugs. Specifically, the highest direct effect came from the change request, while changing the code had a minor impact on software faults. The highest impact of the code change resulted from the change requests (either for bug fixing or refactoring). Interestingly, the indirect impact from code characteristics to software fault proneness was higher than the direct impact. We found a similar level of direct and indirect impact from code characteristics to code change.

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending