Can We Avoid High Coupling?

  • Craig Taube-Schock
  • Robert J. Walker
  • Ian H. Witten
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6813)


It is considered good software design practice to organize source code into modules and to favour within-module connections (cohesion) over between-module connections (coupling), leading to the oft-repeated maxim “low coupling/high cohesion”. Prior research into network theory and its application to software systems has found evidence that many important properties in real software systems exhibit approximately scale-free structure, including coupling; researchers have claimed that such scale-free structures are ubiquitous. This implies that high coupling must be unavoidable, statistically speaking, apparently contradicting standard ideas about software structure. We present a model that leads to the simple predictions that approximately scale-free structures ought to arise both for between-module connectivity and overall connectivity, and not as the result of poor design or optimization shortcuts. These predictions are borne out by our large-scale empirical study. Hence we conclude that high coupling is not avoidable—and that this is in fact quite reasonable.


Source Code Degree Distribution Preferential Attachment Heavy Tail High Coupling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig Taube-Schock
    • 1
  • Robert J. Walker
    • 2
  • Ian H. Witten
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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