Revisiting process versus product metrics: a large scale analysis

Empirical Software Engineering(2022)

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Numerous methods can build predictive models from software data. However, what methods and conclusions should we endorse as we move from analytics in-the-small (dealing with a handful of projects) to analytics in-the-large (dealing with hundreds of projects)? To answer this question, we recheck prior small-scale results (about process versus product metrics for defect prediction and the granularity of metrics) using 722,471 commits from 700 Github projects. We find that some analytics in-the-small conclusions still hold when scaling up to analytics in-the-large. For example, like prior work, we see that process metrics are better predictors for defects than product metrics (best process/product-based learners respectively achieve recalls of 98%/44% and AUCs of 95%/54%, median values). That said, we warn that it is unwise to trust metric importance results from analytics in-the-small studies since those change dramatically when moving to analytics in-the-large. Also, when reasoning in-the-large about hundreds of projects, it is better to use predictions from multiple models (since single model predictions can become confused and exhibit a high variance).
Software engineering,Software process,Process metrics,Product metrics,Developer metrics,Random forest,Logistic regression,Support vector machine,HPO
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