Optimal Enhancement and Lifetime of Software Systems: A Control Theoretic Analysis


  • Dedicated to the memory of Gerald L. Thompson (November 25, 1923–November 9, 2009).


We develop an optimal control model to maximize the net value provided by a software system over its useful life. The model determines the initial number of features in the system, the level of dynamic enhancement effort, and the lifetime of the system. The various factors affecting these optimal choices are systems characteristics (e.g., complexity, age, quality), user learning, and process maturity. We also consider that there is a time lag between the addition of a feature and the realization of its benefit to users. The basic model is extended to consider the decision of replacing the existing system by a new one.