Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Computer Science


A review of published measures of control flow complexity in programs reveals three major deficiencies: loss of information, lack of specificity, and lack of analytical support. A new approach is used to characterize the control structure of a program, with the aim of defining properties and measures of control flow that can be of immediate use to programmers, regardless of their utility as complexity measures. Mathematical rigor and analytical evaluation techniques are used to define a set of properties of control structure and a corresponding vector of measures. Instead of defining the properties and measures for an entire flowgraph, they are defined at the node level, reflecting the control flow surrounding each node in a flowgraph. The properties and their measures reflect the following characteristics of control flow: nesting, iteration, structuredness, and predecessors. Algorithms for computing the properties and their measures are presented. An assessment of the computational complexity of the algorithms shows that they are feasible programming environment tools;A finite path set, representing all possible execution sequences, is evaluated as a characterizing property. Desired characteristics of the path set are defined and used to evaluate four published path subset criteria. Those criteria are shown to be deficient, so a fifth criterion is defined. However, the path set satisfying this fifth criterion is shown to be too large to be of practical use to a programmer.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

James William Howatt



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

144 pages