Harman Patil (Editor)

Software entropy

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A work on software engineering by Ivar Jacobson et al. describes software entropy as follows:

The second law of thermodynamics, in principle, states that a closed system's disorder cannot be reduced, it can only remain unchanged or increase. A measure of this disorder is entropy. This law also seems plausible for software systems; as a system is modified, its disorder, or entropy, tends to increase. This is known as software entropy. Within software development, there are similar theories; see Lehman (1985), who suggested a number of laws, of which two were, basically, as follows:
  1. A computer program that is used will be modified
  2. When a program is modified, its complexity will increase, provided that one does not actively work against this.

Andrew Hunt and David Thomas use Fixing Broken Windows as a metaphor for avoiding software entropy in software development.

The process of code refactoring can result in stepwise reductions in software entropy.

Software entropy is increased with accumulation of technical debt.

References

Software entropy Wikipedia


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