Fabulous Adventures in Coding – Benford’s Law

Charley Tichenor and Bobby Davis, just finished an interesting article on Function Points.  They write, “Suppose that software development is a human stimulus and response activity.  The response is customer satisfaction, and the stimulus is the amount of functionality recognized by the user.”  In other words, customers respond positively to more functionality. The authors use Benford’s Law as evidence to support their claim.

Benford’s Law maintains that in a list of numbers (even a list of function point counts) the leading number will be 1 more often than any of other number.   In turns out that function point counts starting with 1 will occur about 30% of the time.   If I examined  my database of function point counts that I have collected for the last 20 years, then I should see more counts starting with a one than any other number.

Charley and Bobby examined  the entire ISBGS’ database and guess what they found.  You don’t have to guess because you can read their paper at http://www.softwaremetrics.com/Articles/BenfordsLaw.pdf

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 12:19  Comments (2)  
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  1. Hi David —

    I’d be most interested to see if others find that Benford’s Law applies to their portfolios of function point counts, or find another reason for Benford’s Law besides stimulus and response. Remember, Benford’s Law is statistical, so portfolio sizes need to be larger than about 30.

    Charley Tichenor

    • Charley,

      I checked my database of past projects that I use for benchmarking. I normally keep about 1,000 projects as active because I drop older projects. Sure enough just about 30% started with a 1. I have another 2,000 or so past projects that I have dropped from my database because they are older than 7 years. Once again about 30% started with a 1. Kinda of freaky when you think about it 🙂


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