Pair Programming and the Factors Affecting Brooks' Law

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Title: Pair Programming and the Factors Affecting Brooks' Law
Author: Shukla, Anuja
Advisors: Dr Laurie Williams, Committee Chair
Abstract: Frederick Brooks states in his book The Mythical Man-Month, "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Brooks explains that often software development managers react to schedule problems by adding more manpower to the project. However, the new team members take some time initially to be trained and assimilated into the project. Assimilation time is the time the new team member takes to understand project specific details. Also, if the subprojects assigned to each engineer are interrelated, intercommunication requirements rise since each part of the task must be separately coordinated with each other part. Thus, Brooks contends that when manpower is added to a late project the overall productivity goes down, delaying the project even further. This research investigates the effects of pair programming on the training, assimilation and intercommunication, as mentioned in Brooks' Law. Pair programming is a practice in which two programmers work together at one computer, continuously collaborating on the same design, algorithm, code, or test. Most software development teams that practice pair programming also practice pair rotation. With pair rotation, engineers periodically change their pairing partner. Pair programming and pair rotation have previously been shown to aid teams in improving code and design quality and to improve teamwork. In this research, we investigated additional benefits of the pair programming and pair rotation practices. Through surveys and mathematically modeling, we found the following: 1. Pair programming reduces within a team. 2. Pair programming reduces mentoring time when new members are added to a team. 3. Pair programming reduces assimilation time when new members are added to a team. 4. Manpower can be added to a late software project provided the additional useful effort delivered to the project is adequate to achieve the desired schedule. Pair programming can make this more achievable.
Date: 2002-05-30
Degree: M
Discipline: Computer Science

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