Measuring the internal quality of source code is one of the traditional goals of making software development into an engineering discipline. Cyclomatic Complexity (CC) is an often used source code quality metric, next to Source Lines of Code (SLOC). However, the use of the CC metric is challenged by the repeated claim that CC is redundant with respect to SLOC due to strong linear correlation.

We conducted an extensive literature study of the CC/SLOC correlation results. Next, we tested correlation on large Java (17.6 M methods) and C (6.3 M functions) corpora. Our results show that linear correlation between SLOC and CC is only moderate as caused by increasingly high variance. We further observe that aggregating CC and SLOC as well as performing a power transform improves the correlation.

Our conclusion is that the observed linear correlation between CC and SLOC of Java methods or C functions is not strong enough to conclude that CC is redundant with SLOC. This conclusion contradicts earlier claims from literature, but concurs with the widely accepted practice of measuring of CC next to SLOC.
Additional Metadata
THEME Software (theme 1)
Stakeholder Software Improvement Group, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1002/smr.1760
Journal Journal of Software: Evolution and Process
Project Domain Specific Languages: A Big Future for Small Programs
Citation
Landman, D, Serebrenik, A, Bouwers, E, & Vinju, J.J. (2016). Empirical analysis of the relationship between CC and SLOC in a large corpus of Java methods and C functions. Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, 28(7), 589–618. doi:10.1002/smr.1760