Digital Archeology of Software


March 31, 2011


Audris Mockus


Avaya Labs Research


Measurement is the essence of science. Many professional and social activities become software mediated, thus generating vast digital traces that represent projections of collective and individual activities. The reconstruction and quantification of the behavior of an individual, an organization, or a society from these projections is the main challenge of digital archeology. I will illustrate the approach in the context of current software development practice. Software development is experiencing a radical change driven by the open source movement and the business needs to move development to low-cost locations. I will discuss ways to measure mentor-follower relationships in succession (the transfer of code ownership), and the aspects of succession that impact productivity and quality. I will introduce measures of relative sociality (the ratio of social and technical competencies), illustrate how they evolve over time, and quantify how the initial project environment is associated with the probability that a developer will become a long-term contributor. In conclusion, I will discuss how digital archeology offers new ways to understand software development and human nature.


Audris Mockus

Audris Mockus, a member of technical staff in the Software Production Research Department at Bell Labs in Naperville, Illinois, holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in applied mathematics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University. In his research of complex dynamic systems, Dr. Mockus designs data mining methods, statistical models, and user interfaces. He is currently investigating properties of software changes