Priority Ranked Inspection

Summary:  This research investigates how to prioritize inspection resources and apply them to areas of the system that need them most. It is commonly assumed that defects are not uniformly distributed across all documents in a system. Instead, a relatively small subset of a system accounts for a relatively large proportion of defects. If inspection resources are limited, then it should be more effective to identify and inspect the defect-prone areas.

To support efficient use of inspection resources, we have created an inspection process called Priority Ranked Inspection (PRI). PRI uses software product and development process measures to distinguish documents that are “more in need of inspection” (MINI) from those “less in need of inspection” (LINI). Some of the product and process measures include: user-reported defects, unit test coverage, active time, and number of changes. We hypothesize that the inspection of MINI documents will generate more defects with a higher severity than inspecting LINI documents.

Evaluation of the Priority Ranked Inspection method involved a simple exploratory study, which included inspecting MINI and LINI software code and checking to see if MINI code inspections generate more defects than LINI code inspections. The results of the study provide supporting evidence that MINI documents do contain more high-severity defects than LINI documents. In addition, there is some evidence that PRI can provide developers with more information to help determine what documents they should select for inspection.

Principal researcher(s): Aaron Kagawa

Status: Active development 2004 – 2005.