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Quality of Open Source Software: how many eyes are enough?

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

In 2004, my colleague Zurab Sajaia and I submitted a maximum likelihood routine to the Stata SSC archive. The program was quickly propelled by the Stata user community to the top 10 most downloaded Stata files; it is still in use now. While experimenting with similar algorithms to develop test procedures (five years after the program’s release), we uncovered an error in the routine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of econometricians had used our program and looked at our code, but no one raised any concerns.

Open Source Software (OSS) is quickly gaining popularity in the corporate world as a practical alternative to costly proprietary software. 78% of companies are now using OSS extensively and open source components are found in more than half of all proprietary software. The rationale is simple: OSS lowers development costs, decreases time to market, increases developer productivity, and accelerates innovation.