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Recover and RELAX: Concern-Oriented Software Architecture Recovery for Systems Development and Maintenance

by   Daniel Link, et al.
Santa Clara University
University of Southern California

The stakeholders of a system are legitimately interested in whether and how its architecture reflects their respective concerns at each point of its development and maintenance processes. Having such knowledge available at all times would enable them to continually adjust their systems structure at each juncture and reduce the buildup of technical debt that can be hard to reduce once it has persisted over many iterations. Unfortunately, software systems often lack reliable and current documentation about their architecture. In order to remedy this situation, researchers have conceived a number of architectural recovery methods, some of them concern-oriented. However, the design choices forming the bases of most existing recovery methods make it so none of them have a complete set of desirable qualities for the purpose stated above. Tailoring a recovery to a system is either not possible or only through iterative experiments with numeric parameters. Furthermore, limitations in their scalability make it prohibitive to apply the existing techniques to large systems. Finally, since several current recovery methods employ non-deterministic sampling, their inconsistent results do not lend themselves well to tracking a systems course over several versions, as needed by its stakeholders. RELAX (RELiable Architecture EXtraction), a new concern-based recovery method that uses text classification, addresses these issues efficiently by (1) assembling the overall recovery result from smaller, independent parts, (2) basing it on an algorithm with linear time complexity and (3) being tailorable to the recovery of a single system or a sequence thereof through the selection of meaningfully named, semantic topics. An intuitive, informative architectural visualization rounds out RELAX's contributions. RELAX is illustrated on a number of existing open-source systems and compared to other recovery methods.


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