Agent-Based Simulation Of Open Source Evolution

by Jonathan Wellons

This Tuesday, I have the good fortune to give a presentation on N. Smith, A. Capiluppi, and J. Fernandez-Ramil's classic journal paper "Agent-Based Simulation Of Open Source Evolution," from Software Process: Improvement and Practice 2006; 11: 423-43. Well, if anything from 2006 can be a classic, F/OSS is the place.

Figuring out how Free Software evolves is a black art. There's quite a bit of grant money in it and I've seen theories that do everything from trying to quantify the exact number of developers the core of a project must have to purporting to build a checklist of all features that define when you will be successful integrating Open Source into your organization.

In this case, Smith et al. have taken the CVS logs from the Gaim, Wine , Arla , and MPlayer projects, plotted how their complexity evolved over time, then tried to tweak a model of developer-agents until the virtual project's complexity had the same shape as the real ones. They hope to use this to causal relationships between module fitness, complexity and other factors. You will have to make your own decision as to whether they succeeded.

4 Comments

Roy Schestowitz
2007-04-16 20:52:12
Very detailed and interesting. Thanks for that!
Jonathan Wellons
2007-04-16 21:17:38
Thanks Roy, I appreciate the comment.
Steve Wellons
2007-04-18 08:50:10
Interesting. Now what are the two things to remember about Agent-Based Simulations?
Jonathan Wellons
2007-04-18 22:59:39
Good question. I've only read this one paper about it, but I'll give it a try by extrapolation.


1. Simulating any complex and long-lasting social process is likely to be hard, but there is some initial though dubious, proof-of-concept progress.


2. Keep the evaluation of software characteristic trending as quantitative as possible.