Vivek Haldar

How software grows

I have often wondered how things grow, and specifically, how software projects grow. Some initial looks at specific projects had pointed out that they grew super-linearly.

A recent paper looks at a large cross-section of open source projects to analyze how adding people to projects affects their productivity.

They find that production intensity , as measured by number of commits, grows super-linearly with the number of project members. The median exponent was 4/3, which works out to a productivity boost of a factor of 2.5 when number of members is doubled.

Not surprisingly, the exponent was smaller (but still super-linear) for larger projects, but also showed less variability.

(For the link, I thank Nat Torkington’s Four Short Links. He somehow manages to come up with four interesting links every day.)