Towards Uncertainty Management in COTS-based Development

H. Ibrahim, B.H. Far (Canada), and A. Eberlein (UAE)


COTSBased Development, Uncertainty Management, Bayesian Belief Networks.


The process of developing software applications using commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components has received much attention lately because it provides potential benefits including shortening the development time, reducing effort and cost as well as improving the quality of the final product. However, COTS-based development (CBD) is not a trivial task and associated with various challenges. One of the most critical challenges is uncertainty inherent to COTS-related information and their vendors. Ignoring the uncertainty challenge negatively influences the quality of COTS selection decisions. In this paper, the uncertainty challenge inculding various forms of uncertainty (e.g. which features will be added or removed from new releases and the values of parameters being assessed) is discussed. Furthermore, a Bayesian-based evaluation model is proposed to address the uncertainty. In this model, prior belief, which is subjective and uncertain, is assigned to each node in the model. The prior belief is determined either by utilizing the knowledge of domain experts or by analyzing the data collected from various COTS vendors. When new evidence is discovered, it is propagated through the Bayesian model to update belief in other nodes. A digital library system is selected as an example to illustrate the use of the model and how changing the belief in various nodes influences the belief of satisfaction level of COTS candidates.

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