Design Pattern Density Defined

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.

Posted on


  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 […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share the Joy

Share on LinkedIn

Share by email

Share on Twitter / X

Share on WhatsApp

Featured Startups

QDAcity makes qualitative research and qualitative data analysis fun and easy.
EDITIVE makes inter- and intra-company document collaboration more effective.

Featured Projects

Making free and open data easy, safe, and reliable to use
Bringing business intelligence to engineering management
Making open source in products easy, safe, and fun to use