10.4 View Fusion

View fusion involves defining and manipulating extracted information (now stored in a database) to reconcile, augment, and establish connections between the elements. Different forms of extraction should provide complementary information. Fusion is illustrated using the examples given in the following sections.


Consider the two excerpts shown in Figure 10.4, which are from the sets of methods (each shown preceded by its respective class) extracted from a system implemented in C++. These tables include static and dynamic information about an object-oriented segment of code. We can see from the dynamic information that, for example, List::getnth is called. However, this method is not included in the static analysis because the static extractor tool missed it. Also, the calls to the constructor and destructor methods of InputValue and List are not included in the static information and need to be added to the class/method table that reconciles both sources of information.

Figure 10.4. Static and dynamic data information about the class_contains_method relation


In addition, the static extraction in this example shows that the PrimitiveOp class has a method called Compute. The dynamic extraction results show no such class, but they do show classes, such as ArithmeticOp, AttachOp, and StringOp, each of which has a Compute method and is in fact a subclass of PrimitiveOp. PrimitiveOp is purely a superclass and so never actually called in an executing program. But it is the call to PrimitiveOp that a static extractor sees when scanning the source code, since the polymorphic call to one of PrimitiveOp's subclasses occurs at runtime.

To get an accurate view of the architecture, we need to reconcile the PrimitiveOp static and dynamic information. To do this, we perform a fusion using SQL queries over the extracted calls, actually_calls, and has_subclass relations. In this way, we can see that the calls to PrimitiveOp::Compute (obtained from the static information) and to its various subclasses (obtained from the dynamic information) are really the same thing.

The lists in Figure 10.5 show the items added to the fused view (in addition to the methods that the static and dynamic information agreed upon) and those removed from it (even though included in either the static or the dynamic information).

Figure 10.5. Items added to and omitted from the overall view



In a multi-process application, name clashes are likely to occur. For example, several processes might have a procedure called main. It is important that clashes be identified and disambiguated within the extracted views. Once again, by fusing information that can be easily extracted, we can remove this potential ambiguity. In this case, we need to fuse the static calls table with a "file/function containment" table (to determine which functions are defined in which source files) and a "build dependency" table (to determine which files are compiled to produce which executables). The fusion of these information sources allows potentially ambiguous procedure or method names to be made unique and hence unambiguously referred to in the architecture reconstruction process. Without view fusion, this ambiguity would persist into the architecture reconstruction.


The following are some practical considerations in applying this step of the method.

  • Fuse tables when no single extracted table provides the needed information.

  • Fuse tables when there is ambiguity within one of them, and it is not possible to disambiguate using a single table.

  • Consider different extraction techniques to extract different information; for example, you can use dynamic and static extraction. Or you might want to use different instances of the same technique, such as different parsers for the same language, if you feel that a single instance might provide erroneous or incomplete information.

    Part Two: Creating an Architecture
    Part Four: Moving From One System to Many