Ex Ante Evaluations of Alternate Data Structures for End User Queries

Ex Ante Evaluations of Alternate Data Structures for End User Queries

Paul L. Bowen (The University of Queensland, Australia), Fiona H. Rohde (University of Queensland, Australia) and Jay Basford (The University of Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-945-8.ch142


The data structure of an information system can significantly impact the ability of end users to efficiently and effectively retrieve the information they need. This research develops a methodology for evaluating, ex ante, the relative desirability of alternative data structures for end user queries. This research theorizes that the data structure that yields the lowest weighted average complexity for a representative sample of information requests is the most desirable data structure for end user queries. The theory was tested in an experiment that compared queries from two different relational database schemas. As theorized, end users querying the data structure associated with the less complex queries performed better. Complexity was measured using three different Halstead metrics. Each of the three metrics provided excellent predictions of end user performance. This research supplies strong evidence that organizations can use complexity metrics to evaluate, ex ante, the desirability of alternate data structures. Organizations can use these evaluations to enhance the efficient and effective retrieval of information by creating data structures that minimize end user query complexity.

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