Debunking Linus’s Law with Science

Putting the science in computer science by Felienne Hermans.

From the description:

Programmers love science! At least, so they say. Because when it comes to the ‘science’ of developing code, the most used tool is brutal debate. Vim versus emacs, static versus dynamic typing, Java versus C#, this can go on for hours at end. In this session, software engineering professor Felienne Hermans will present the latest research in software engineering that tries to understand and explain what programming methods, languages and tools are best suited for different types of development.

Felienne dispells the notion that a discipline is scientific because it claims “science” as part of its name.

To inject some “science” into “computer science,” she reports tests of several propositions, widely held in CS circles, that don’t bear up when “facts” are taken into account.

For example, Linus’s Law: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

“Debunking” may not be strong enough because as Felienne shows, the exact opposite of Linus’s Law is true: The more people who touch code, the more bugs are introduced.

If some proprietary software house rejoices over that fact, you can point out that complexity of the originating organization also has a direct relationship to bugs. As in more and not less bugs.

That’s what happens when you go looking for facts. Old sayings true out to be not true and people you already viewed with suspicion turned out to be more incompetent than you thought.

That’s science.

One Response to “Debunking Linus’s Law with Science”

  1. […] Debunking Linus’s Law with Science I pointed you to a presentation by Felienne Hermans outlining why the adage: given enough eyeballs, […]