Modularity or: Open source turns on all the available brain power, full blast, on every problem, challenge, or opportunity

Klaus D. Witzel klaus.witzel at
Thu Oct 5 02:01:00 UTC 2006

"Putting Open Source Development Under the Scope"
Linux Insider (10/02/06); Lyman, Jay
Computer science researchers at the University of California Davis will use
a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to examine the
development of open source systems such as the Apache Web server,
PosterSQL, and the Python scripting language.  The suspicion is that open
source systems succeed where commercial proprietary programs fail because
they avoid the developmental process where the speed of production is
determined by the slowest contributor.  The case of Mozilla suggests that
the modularity implemented by open source systems increase volunteerism,
because anyone can contribute at any time.  UC Davis lead researcher and
computer science professor Premkuma Devanbu says, "The belief in the open
source software community is that open source turns on all the available
brain power, full blast, on every problem, challenge, or opportunity."  The
purpose of the study is to put such ideas to the test, in order to get
empirical evidence.  Many stress that open source development benefits from
the fact that contributors are not motivated by getting paid, and can
choose what they work on.  As no meetings and the lowest level of
synchronization are necessary when using open source software, development
can occur at parallel levels simultaneously, rather than requiring each
step in the process to occur sequentially.  The researchers will monitor
emails, message boards, and bug reports for insights into what makes open
source development projects successful.  Devanbu says the case of Linux
shows that modularity improves the quality of the software developed, and
that "good design allows implementation to proceed with maximum parallelism
and minimum synchronization and coordination."


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