Genetic Algorithms in Software Architecture Synthesis

By Outi Raiha
November 2011
Tampere University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.

ISBN: 9789514485626
188 pages

$87.50 Paper original

This thesis presents an approach for synthesizing software architectures with genetic algorithms. Previously in the literature, genetic algorithms have been mostly used to improve existing architectures. The method presented here, however, focuses on upstream design. The chosen genetic construction of software architectures is based on a model which contains information on functional requirements only. Architecture styles and design patterns are used to transform the initial high-level model to a more detailed design. Quality attributes, here modifiability, efficiency and complexity, are encoded in the algorithm’s fitness function for evaluating the produced solutions. The final solution is given as a UML class diagram. While the main contribution is introducing the method for architecture synthesis, basic tool support for the implementation is also presented.

Two case studies are used for evaluation. One case study uses the sketch for an electronic home control system, which is a typical embedded system. The other case study is based on a robot war game simulator, which is a typical framework system. Evaluation is mostly based on fitness graphs and (subjective) evaluation of produced class diagrams.

In addition to the basic approach, variations and extensions regarding crossover and fitness function have been made. While the standard algorithm uses a random crossover, asexual reproduction and complementary crossover are also studied. Asexual crossover corresponds to real-life design situations, where two architectures are rarely combined. Complementary crossover, in turn, attempts to purposefully combine good parts of two architectures.

The fitness function is extended with the option to include modifiability scenarios, which enables more targeted design decisions as critical parts of the architecture can be evaluated individually. In order to achieve a wider range of solutions that answer to competing quality demands, a multi-objective approach using Pareto optimality is given as an alternative for the single weighted fitness function. The multi-objective approach evaluates modifiability and efficiency, and gives as output the class diagrams of the whole Pareto front of the last generation. Thus, extremes for both quality attributes as well as solutions in the middle ground can be compared.

An experimental study is also conducted where independent experts evaluate produced solutions for the electronic home control. Results show that genetic software architecture synthesis is indeed feasible, and the quality of solutions at this stage is roughly at the level of third year software engineering students.


Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 1654


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