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Multi-criteria Analysis for Architectural Choices in Software Product Lines
MSc Post-Graduation

In software development, the system’s architecture is usually chosen informally, without much care for rigor. Nevertheless, this task is very important, since the architecture represents the structure, or structures, of a system, which comprise software components, their externally visible properties, and the relationships among them [28]. The architecture gives structure to the system being developed by assigning responsibilities to the components and defining the restrict way in which they should communicate. One of the dimensions of the system that deeply impacts on the architecture is the set of quality attributes the system should satisfy. Therefore, it is necessary to identify and define the main quality attributes (or criteria) of the system and the architectural styles (or alternatives). That is, the main difficulty the architect faces is to choose the alternative, or combination of alternatives, that best satisfies the criteria. Choosing the wrong architectural style can bring serious problems throughout the software lifecycle. It can even make the development of the system difficult [28]. If constructing a software architecture for a single system is a hard task, constructing one for a family of products (or Software Product Lines – SPL) is, certainly, even harder to achieve. There is, therefore, the need to create systematic approaches that help the architect to choose the architecture that reflects the most balanced combination of styles that better satisfy the problem being studied [42]. The work developed for this master’s dissertation is in the scope of the AMPLE Project ( and its main goal is to investigate how multi-criteria methods can be applied to facilitate the choice of the most adequate architectural styles. In this process, a new multi-criteria method, called Hybrid Assessment Method (HAM), was developed. The objective of this method is twofold: on one hand, it allows the study of trade-offs between non-functional requirements and, on the other hand, it determines the ranking of architectures. The application domain chosen is SPL. Also, HAM was integrated with architectural assessment method Family Architecture Assessment Method (FAAM) in a preliminary way, creating a new process to assess architectural styles called Family Architecture Hybrid Assessment Method (FAHAM). FAHAM is, however, just a preliminary study of integrating traditional architectural assessment techniques with multi-criteria methods, which will be object of a deeper study in the future.

Start Date: 2008-03-03

End Date: 2009-04-14

Post-Graduation Student / Researcher / Professor:
  • Afonso Pimentel ( CITI )

Post-Graduation Supervisor(s):

Post-Graduation Jury:
  • António Rito Silva ( Instituto Superior Técnico )
  • Pedro Barahona ( CENTRIA )
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