Openness Makes Software Better Sooner : Nature News. Ball, P.
Openness Makes Software Better Sooner : Nature News [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Sharing code for computer software is best way to rid it of bugs. [Excerpt] Computer software develops more effectively when its code is freely accessible to all, UK researchers have calculated. This will come as no surprise to the legions of supporters of open-access software, such as the operating systems and tools the Linux and Apache projects distribute. To them, the superiority of freely available code is an article of faith - as much an ideological position as a technological decision. The theoretical model of software debugging devised by Damien Challet and Yann Le Du of the University of Oxford has some sobering messages for companies who prefer to keep their software proprietary1. 'Closed-source' software, finessed by staff hired to work on information that users send in, requires higher-quality programmers and more users to attain the same level of perfection as open-source software in a comparable time. In other words, for a given set of users finding and reporting bugs, and programmers correcting them, open-source software will always be debugged faster than closed-source software, the researchers reckon. This isn't obvious. If you have the same number and quality of programmers you might expect the time it takes to fix faults to be the same regardless of whether source code is open or closed. But for free-access data, the flow of information between programmers and users is better. Moreover, Challet and Le Du point out that an open-source approach allows software to be made bug-free even when there is always a chance that any one programmer will fail to resolve a bug that he or she is presented with.
@article{ballOpennessMakesSoftware2003,
  title = {Openness Makes Software Better Sooner : {{Nature News}}},
  author = {Ball, Philip},
  date = {2003},
  journaltitle = {Nature},
  issn = {0028-0836},
  doi = {10.1038/news030623-6},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1038/news030623-6},
  abstract = {Sharing code for computer software is best way to rid it of bugs.

[Excerpt] Computer software develops more effectively when its code is freely accessible to all, UK researchers have calculated.

This will come as no surprise to the legions of supporters of open-access software, such as the operating systems and tools the Linux and Apache projects distribute. To them, the superiority of freely available code is an article of faith - as much an ideological position as a technological decision.

The theoretical model of software debugging devised by Damien Challet and Yann Le Du of the University of Oxford has some sobering messages for companies who prefer to keep their software proprietary1. 'Closed-source' software, finessed by staff hired to work on information that users send in, requires higher-quality programmers and more users to attain the same level of perfection as open-source software in a comparable time.

In other words, for a given set of users finding and reporting bugs, and programmers correcting them, open-source software will always be debugged faster than closed-source software, the researchers reckon.

This isn't obvious. If you have the same number and quality of programmers you might expect the time it takes to fix faults to be the same regardless of whether source code is open or closed. But for free-access data, the flow of information between programmers and users is better.

Moreover, Challet and Le Du point out that an open-source approach allows software to be made bug-free even when there is always a chance that any one programmer will fail to resolve a bug that he or she is presented with.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13412471,comparison,free-scientific-knowledge,free-software,knowledge-freedom,software-errors}
}
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