Tradeoff and sensitivity analysis in software architecture evaluation using analytic hierarchy process

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Abstract
Software architecture evaluation involves evaluating different architecture design alternatives against multiple quality-attributes. These attributes typically have intrinsic conflicts and must be considered simultaneously in order to reach a final design decision. AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process), an important decision making technique, has been leveraged to resolve such conflicts. AHP can help provide an overall ranking of design alternatives. However it lacks the capability to explicitly identify the exact tradeoffs being made and the relative size of these tradeoffs. Moreover, the ranking produced can be sensitive such that the smallest change in intermediate priority weights can alter the final order of design alternatives. In this paper, we propose several in-depth analysis techniques applicable to AHP to identify critical tradeoffs and sensitive points in the decision process. We apply our method to an example of a real-world distributed architecture presented in the literature. The results are promising in that they make important decision consequences explicit in terms of key design tradeoffs and the architecture`s capability to handle future quality attribute changes. These expose critical decisions which are otherwise too subtle to be detected in standard AHP results.
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Author(s)
Zhu, Liming
Aurum, Aybuke
Jeffery, David
Gorton, Ian
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Publication Year
2005
Resource Type
Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty