COUPLING and COHESION
An indication of the strength of interconnections between program units.
Highly coupled have program units dependent on each other. Loosely coupled
are made up of units that are independent or almost independent.
Modules are independent if they can function completely without the presence of
the other. Obviously, can't have modules completely independent of each other.
Must interact so that can produce desired outputs. The more connections
between modules, the more dependent they are in the sense that more info
about one modules is required to understand the other module.
Three factors: number of interfaces, complexity of interfaces, type of
info flow along interfaces.
Want to minimize number of interfaces between modules, minimize the
complexity of each interface, and control the type of info flow. An interface
of a module is used to pass information to and from other modules.
In general, modules tightly coupled if they use shared variables or if
they exchange control info.
Loose coupling if info held within a unit and interface with other units
via parameter lists. Tight coupling if shared global data.
If need only one field of a record, don't pass entire record. Keep interface
as simple and small as possible.
Two types of info flow: data or control.
Ranked highest to lowest:
- Passing or receiving back control info means that the action of the
module will depend on this control info, which makes it difficult to
understand the module.
- Interfaces with only data communication result in lowest degree of
coupling, followed by interfaces that only transfer control data. Highest if
data is hybrid.
- Content coupling: if one directly references the contents of the other.
When one module modifies local data values or instructions in another
module. (can happen in assembly language)
if one refers to local data in another module.
if one branches into a local label of another.
- Common coupling: access to global data.
modules bound together by global data structures.
- Control coupling: passing control flags (as parameters or globals) so
that one module controls the sequence of processing steps in another module.
- Stamp coupling: similar to common coupling except that global variables
are shared selectively among routines that require the data. E.g., packages
in Ada. More desirable than common coupling because fewer modules will have
to be modified if a shared data structure is modified. Pass entire data
structure but need only parts of it.
- Data coupling: use of parameter lists to pass data items between routines.
Measure of how well module fits together.
A component should implement a single logical function or single logical
entity. All the parts should contribute to the implementation.
Many levels of cohesion:
- Coincidental cohesion: the parts of a component are not related but
simply bundled into a single component.
harder to understand and not reusable.
- Logical association: similar functions such as input, error handling,
etc. put together. Functions fall in same logical class. May pass a
flag to determine which ones executed.
interface difficult to understand. Code for more than one function may be
intertwined, leading to severe maintenance problems. Difficult to reuse
- Temporal cohesion: all of statements activated at a single time, such
as start up or shut down, are brought together. Initialization, clean up.
Functions weakly related to one another, but more strongly related to
functions in other modules so may need to change lots of modules when
- Procedural cohesion: a single control sequence, e.g., a loop or sequence
of decision statements. Often cuts across functional lines. May contain
only part of a complete function or parts of several functions.
Functions still weakly connected, and again unlikely to be reusable in
- Communicational cohesion: operate on same input data or produce same
output data. May be performing more than one function. Generally acceptable
if alternate structures with higher cohesion cannot be easily identified.
still problems with reusability.
- Sequential cohesion: output from one part serves as input for another
part. May contain several functions or parts of different functions.
- Informational cohesion: performs a number of functions, each with its own
entry point, with independent code for each function, all performed on same
data structure. Different than logical cohesion because functions not
- Functional cohesion: each part necessary for execution of a single
function. e.g., compute square root or sort the array.
Usually reusable in other contexts. Maintenance easier.
- Type cohesion: modules that support a data abstraction.
Not strictly a linear scale. Functional much stronger than rest while first
two much weaker than others. Often many levels may be applicable when
considering two elements of a module. Cohesion of module considered as
highest level of cohesion that is applicable to all elements in the module.