Chaos Theory and Software Quality: Limitation or Invitation?

Article

Kelsey, Robert Bruce   (1997, American Society for Quality)   Frank Russell Company, Tacoma, WA

International Conference on Software Quality, October 6-8 1997, Montgomery, AL    Vol. 7    No. 0
QICID: 11257    October 1997    pp. 179-187
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Article Abstract

Chaos theory supports some assumptions about software quality management, but it refutes others. Chaos theory is appropriate for studying systems influenced by multiple factors having limited but unpredictable ranges. Its limited predictive capabilities means that chaos theory challenges the concepts of scientific explanation and scientific realism. This challenge to deterministic reasoning also could challenge the determinism of some systems to which quality assurance is applied. For example, ISO 9001 talks of special processes that are not accessible through traditional quality assurance methods. Chaotic systems are chaotic at least in part because of the limitations of language, values, and analytical instruments. When software systems are comprised of language, they can be chaotic and their quality unpredictable. For example, aesthetic responses, work flow comfort, and entertainment value might be well represented by chaotic systems in which it is impossible to predict every user's response to every use of the software. Semantic density is a measure of the potentiality for systems to be chaotic. Non-numerical data and protocols as well as user interfaces can make a software system semantically dense. On the other hand, systems that manipulate only numeric data or do no more than move alphanumeric data are likely to be nonchaotic. The ambiguous and contextual nature of language is a key difference between chaotic and nonchaotic software systems.

Keywords

Chaos theory,Software quality,Quality assurance (QA),Prediction


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