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Software Estimation

Software measurements, just like any other measurement in the physical world, can be categorized into Direct measures and Indirect measures. Direct measures of the software process include measurement of cost and effort applied. Direct measures of a product include Lines Of Code (LOC) produced, execution speed, memory size, and defects reported over some set of time. Indirect measures of the software process include measurement of resulting features of the software. Indirect measures of the product include its functionality, quality, complexity, efficiency, reliability, maintainability etc.

In the starting era of computers, software cost was a small proportion of the cost for complete computer based system. An error in estimation of software didn't have a major impact. But, Today software is the most expensive element in many computer-based systems. Large cost estimation errors can make the difference between profit and loss. Cost overruns can be disastrous for the developer.

Estimation is not an exact science. Too many variables - human, technical, environmental, and political - can affect the ultimate cost of software and effort applied to develop it.

In order to make a reliable cost and effort estimation there are lot of techniques that provide estimates with acceptable mount of risk.

These methods can be categorized into Decomposition techniques and Empirical Estimation models. According to Decomposition techniques the software project is broken into major functions and software engineering activities (like testing, coding etc.) and then the cost and effort estimation of each component can be achieved in a stepwise manner.

Finally the consolidated estimate is the clubbed up entities resulting from all the individual components. Two methods under this head are Lines of Code (LOC) and Function Points (FP) Estimation. Further Empirical Estimation models are used to offer a valuable estimation approach, which is based on historical data (experience).


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