Depth in Inheritance Tree

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The Depth in Inheritance Tree (DIT) is the depth of inheritance of the class (i.e. number of ancestors in direct lineage) in the object-oriented paradigm. It has been introduced by Chidamber and Kemerer[1].

Theoretical Basis

DIT relates to Bunge's notion of the scope of properties. DIT is a measure of how many ancestor classes can potentially affect this class.


  • The deeper a class is in the hierarchy, the greater the number of methods it is likely to inherit, making it more complex to predict its behavior.
  • Deeper trees constitute greater design complexity, since more methods and classes are involved.
  • The deeper a particular class is in the hierarchy, the greater the potential reuse of inherited methods.


  • In cases involving multiple inheritance, the DIT will be the maximum length from the node to the root of the tree.
  • In Java where all classes inherit Object the minimum value of DIT is 1.

See also



  1. A Metrics Suite for Object Oriented Design
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