Open source software development and Lotka's Law: Bibliometric patterns in programming



This research applies Lotka's Law to metadata on open source software development. Lotka's Law predicts the proportion of authors at different levels of productivity. Open source software development harnesses the creativity of thousands of programmers worldwide, is important to the progress of the Internet and many other computing environments, and yet has not been widely researched. We examine metadata from the Linux Software Map (LSM), which documents many open source projects, and Sourceforge, one of the largest resources for open source developers. Authoring patterns found are comparable to prior studies of Lotka's Law for scientific and scholarly publishing. Lotka's Law was found to be effective in understanding software development productivity patterns, and offer promise in predicting aggregate behavior of open source developers.