Quantitative evaluation of code quality - a comprehensive analysis of metrics and practices

Madat Bayramov

Baku Engineering University

Engineering Faculty


1. Abstract

This research delves into the significance of code quality metrics in software development. It examines how continuous code reviews, functional testing, and clear requirements contribute to enhancing code quality. Qualitative metrics such as expandability, continuity, clarity, and documentation are explored, along with quantitative indicators like Weighted Micro-Function Points, Halstead Complexity Measures, and Cyclomatic complexity. Additionally, the study analyzes the business impact of code quality, highlighting its correlation with reduced resource utilization and enhanced return on investment. The research also delves into the role of Big O notation in quantifying algorithmic efficiency and scalability, emphasizing its importance in strategic decision-making for algorithm optimization. By integrating Big O notation into code quality assessments, developers gain insights into software system scalability and efficiency, facilitating informed decisions on algorithm selection and optimization strategies. Overall, this study underscores the necessity of a comprehensive approach to code quality assessment, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative metrics, to ensure the development of robust, efficient, and maintainable software solutions.

2. KEYWORDS: continuous code reviews, functional testing, clear requirements, expandability, continuity, clarity, documentation, testing, efficiency, Weighted Micro-Function Points, Halstead Complexity Measures, Cyclomatic complexity, Big o notation


This research attempts to explore the intricate realm of code quality metrics, emphasizing their pivotal role in modern software development practices. By providing insight into objective measures of code quality, this study aims to contribute to the ongoing discourse surrounding software engineering methodologies and practices. It underscores the importance of moving beyond subjective evaluations and adopting comprehensive metrics to ensure the delivery of high-quality software products.

Amidst the dynamic landscape of software development, the demand for high-quality code is ever-present. However, existing approaches often rely on subjective evaluations, leading to inconsistencies and inefficiencies. This research seeks to address this gap by advocating for the use of comprehensive metrics to objectively assess code quality and drive improvements. Drawing upon various methodologies, including continuous code reviews, functional testing, and clear requirements, this study aims to explore effective strategies for enhancing code quality in software development projects.

The research conducted herein seeks to unravel the complexities of code quality metrics, delving into both qualitative and quantitative measures. By analyzing various metrics and methodologies, including expandability, continuity, clarity, documentation, testing, and efficiency, this study aims to elucidate their practical implications and effectiveness in enhancing software reliability, maintainability, and performance. Additionally, specific quantitative indicators such as WMFP, Halstead Complexity Measures, and Cyclomatic complexity are examined to provide a comprehensive understanding of code quality assessment.

The structure of this research is delineated across several chapters, each dedicated to distinct facets of code quality metrics: conceptualization, industry application, methodological evaluation, and actionable recommendations for integration and optimization within software development processes. Through this structured approach, readers will gain insights into the relevance, scientific novelty, and practical importance of code quality metrics, positioning this research within the broader context of software engineering literature.


The methods and materials utilized to address the research problem are meticulously delineated, integrating technical insights from the thesis. A comprehensive array of experimental methodologies is presented, including continuous code reviews, functional testing, and the development of clear requirement documentation. Technical specifications of experimental setups, such as tools for code analysis and testing frameworks, are elaborated upon. Additionally, the integration of quantitative metrics like WMFP, Halstead Complexity Measures, and Cyclomatic complexity is discussed, offering a nuanced understanding of code quality assessment. Through tables, block diagrams, and graphs derived from scientific experiments, readers gain insight into empirical results and their implications for code quality evaluation. This meticulous approach underscores the commitment to scientific rigor in advancing software engineering practices.


Code quality is the result of measuring its value with certain metrics. This result is called the average of the average statistical results obtained as a result of various measurements and approaches. That is, this quality is not determined by the engineer's subjective opinion, but by the sum of various results. Just as there are several methods for improving the quality of software, quality assessment is carried out with different approaches. There are several practices to increase the quality value of written code:

  1. Continuous code reviews –are a protocol that should be performed regularly during software development. Serious and ongoing code reviews are always the biggest help in improving code quality, as engineers are constantly brainstorming ways to write code more efficiently. A survey I came across while I was making this research also shows that engineers agree that reviews are one of the main ways to improve quality (Johnson, 2020) .

  2. Functional testing – ensures that engineers write code that meets all the requirements of the project, so it is one of the most effective methods. Through specially developed test procedures, it is ensured that the developed feature fully meets the requirements and is continuously tested to ensure that this quality does not decrease in the next stages.

  3. Clear requirements – no matter how abstract this point may seem; it plays a big role in increasing the quality factor. The more accurate the pre-drafted "requirements document" or other similar document, the better quality the software will tend to produce.

The main purpose of this research, code quality metrics, is to help determine the "code quality ratio" I mentioned after the steps mentioned above. Quality metrics are divided into two parts: "Qualitative metrics" and "Quantitative metrics". Quality metrics are subjective measures that aim to better define what good means.

Expandability – in software engineering refers to the capacity for seamless integration of future developments. It embodies the principle that software should be designed with adaptability in mind, allowing for the easy incorporation of new features or modifications without disrupting the existing system. A hallmark of extensible applications is their ability to accommodate growth without necessitating a complete overhaul. This flexibility empowers developers to respond to evolving requirements with agility and efficiency. By adhering to modular design principles and employing scalable architectures, software can achieve a high degree of expandability. Ultimately, prioritizing expandability lays the foundation for sustainable development, enabling systems to evolve organically while maintaining stability and functionality (Wilson, 2020).

Continuity Code – Maintainability serves as a qualitative gauge of the ease and risk associated with implementing changes in software. When developers encounter significant hurdles or prolonged timelines during modifications, it signals potential shortcomings in maintainability. A simple metric involves comparing the time required for changes; a task that takes days instead of hours suggests lower maintainability. Additionally, the length and complexity of code impact maintainability, with more convoluted structures posing greater challenges. Software characterized by linear and concise codebases tends to be more maintainable, as it facilitates easier comprehension and modification. Assessing maintainability enables developers to prioritize design practices that foster agility and mitigate risks associated with future alterations, ensuring the long-term viability of the software system.

Clarity – Clarity in code is crucial, akin to a clear blueprint in construction. It ensures easy comprehension, fostering collaboration and speeding up development. Clear code acts as a shield against complexity, aiding understanding amid project evolution. Achieving clarity demands disciplined naming, concise logic, and thorough documentation. It empowers developers to innovate confidently, ensuring their creations are understood and appreciated by peers.

Documentation – If a software solution is not documented, it will be difficult for other developers to use it or even for the same developer to understand the code years later. One common definition of quality is that it is "long-lasting, transferable to future releases and products." Documentation is essential for this to happen. Documents also serve to formalize and improve the decisions we make. When documenting code, each component and its role in the software should be clearly stated.

Testing – stands as a foundational pillar of quality software development, ensuring the functionality and integrity of systems. Well-tested programs undergo relentless evaluation, both individually and in concert with other modules. This meticulous scrutiny not only enhances reliability but also significantly diminishes the likelihood of defects. By systematically verifying functionality at each stage of development, testing instills confidence in the codebase's resilience. Its indispensable role extends beyond mere issue detection, actively validating the overall robustness of the software. Ultimately, testing serves as a vital safeguard, ensuring that software products meet the highest standards of quality and performance (Brown, 2019).

Efficiency – Efficiency in code entails optimal resource utilization and swift execution, reflecting good quality. Engineers commonly associate inefficiency with poor code quality, as it often leads to resource wastage and slower performance. Beyond qualitative assessments, numerous quantitative metrics exist to precisely measure code quality. These may include time complexity analysis, memory consumption profiling, and runtime performance benchmarks. By leveraging these objective indicators, developers can quantitatively evaluate and optimize code efficiency, ensuring high-quality software that meets performance expectations.

Weighted Micro-Function Points – represent a contemporary software algorithm designed to analyze source code by decomposing it into micro-functions. This process involves parsing the code and assigning complexity values to each micro-function. These complexity values capture various aspects such as control flow, data structures, and algorithmic intricacies. WMFP then consolidates these values into a single metric, providing an automated measure of the overall complexity of the source code. By quantifying complexity in this manner, WMFP offers developers insights into the intricacies of their codebase, facilitating informed decision-making and targeted optimizations. This approach enables a more nuanced understanding of software complexity, allowing for proactive management and improvement of code quality.

Halstead Complexity Measures – Halstead Complexity Measures, introduced in 1977, offer a comprehensive set of metrics to evaluate software complexity. These metrics encompass program vocabulary, length, scope, difficulty, and estimated error count within a module. The primary objective is to gauge the computational complexity of the program, providing valuable insights into its maintainability and quality. As complexity values increase, so does the difficulty of maintaining the codebase, leading to lower overall quality. By quantifying various aspects of program complexity, Halstead metrics enable developers to identify potential challenges and prioritize efforts to enhance code maintainability and robustness. This historical approach continues to be a valuable tool in modern software development, aiding in the pursuit of efficient and maintainable codebases (Gupta, 2021).

Cyclomatic complexity – is a metric that measures the structural complexity of a program. Cyclomatic complexity is determined by counting the number of linearly dependent modules in the program's source code. Programs with high cyclomatic complexity (greater than 10) have more potential for errors. While technically code quality and quality metrics are clear, you also need to look at the business impact. After all, any software serves a business. As I mentioned above, quality code means less resources - human and technical - used. The impact of code quality is directly proportional to the return on investment (ROI) allocated to the application. Considering that 40-80% of the budget allocated to "software development" is spent on maintaining that application, quality code serves to reduce costs dramatically (Wang, 2022).

Big O notation – a fundamental concept in computer science, provides a standardized approach for quantifying the time and space complexity of algorithms. Coined by computer scientist Paul Bachmann in 1894 and popularized by Donald Knuth in the 1970s, Big O notation encapsulates the asymptotic behavior of algorithms as their input size grows. By expressing algorithmic complexity in terms of upper bounds, Big O notation facilitates comparisons between algorithms and enables developers to reason about algorithm efficiency independently of machine-specific details. An algorithm with a lower Big O complexity class generally exhibits better performance characteristics, as it requires fewer computational resources to execute. Therefore, integrating Big O notation into code quality assessments provides crucial insights into the scalability and efficiency of software systems, informing decisions regarding algorithm selection, optimization strategies, and overall system design (Smith, 2018).


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