Design Pattern Density Defined

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Abstract: Design pattern density is a metric that measures how much of an object-oriented design can be understood and represented as instances of design patterns. Expert developers have long believed that a high design pattern density implies a high maturity of the design under inspection. This paper presents a quantifiable and observable definition of this metric. The metric is illustrated and qualitatively validated using four real-world case studies. We present several hypotheses of the metric’s meaning and their implications, including the one about design maturity. We propose that the design pattern density of a maturing framework has a fixed point and we show that if software design patterns make learning frameworks easier, a framework’s design pattern density is a measure of how much easier it will become.

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “Design Pattern Density Defined.” In Proceedings of the 2009 Conference on Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA Onward! ’09). ACM Press, 2009. Page 469-480.

Available as a PDF file.


  1. […] He also references a paper by Dirk Riehle on design pattern denisty at which looked at one open source project which was considered to be of high quality (junit 3.8) […]

  2. […] pub­lished a paper on a new object-oriented met­ric called “design pat­tern den­sity” at OOPSLA Onward! 2009; another paper on “indus­try expe­ri­ences with design pat­terns” […]

  3. […] that a high design pattern density implies a high maturity of the design under consideration. In prior work, we have defined the metric as well as an instrument to assess it in a given design. In this work, […]

  4. […] This post was Twitted by ilabra […]

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