A Hidden Markov Model of Developer Learning Dynamics in Open Source Software Projects

Information Systems Research

39 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2008 Last revised: 20 Oct 2014

See all articles by Param Vir Singh

Param Vir Singh

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Nara Youn

University of Washington

Yong Tan

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business

Date Written: March 18, 2010

Abstract

This study examines whether developers learn from their experience and from interactions with peers in OSS projects. A Hidden Markov Model (HMM) is proposed that allows us to investigate (1) the extent to which OSS developers actually learn from their own experience and from interactions with peers, (2) whether a developer's abilities to learn from these activities vary over time, and (3) to what extent developer learning persists over time. We calibrate the model on six years of detailed data collected from 251 developers working on 25 OSS projects hosted at Sourceforge. Using the HMM three learning states (high, medium, and low) are identified and the marginal impact of learning activities on moving the developer between these states is estimated. Our findings reveal different patterns of learning in different learning states. Learning from peers appears as the most important source of learning for developers across the three states. Developers in the medium learning state benefit most through discussions that they initiate. On the other hand, developers in the low and the high states benefit the most by participating in discussions started by others. While in the low state, developers depend entirely upon their peers to learn whereas when in medium or high state they can also draw upon their own experiences. Explanations for these varying impacts of learning activities on the transitions of developers between the three learning states are provided.

Keywords: Open source software development, learning, communication, Hidden Markov Model

JEL Classification: C51, D71, C32, C33, C35, C50, C52, C53

Suggested Citation

Singh, Param Vir and Youn, Nara and Tan, Yong, A Hidden Markov Model of Developer Learning Dynamics in Open Source Software Projects (March 18, 2010). Information Systems Research, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=952608

Param Vir Singh (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-3585 (Phone)

Nara Youn

University of Washington ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Yong Tan

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business ( email )

Box 353226
Seattle, WA 98195-3226
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
514
Abstract Views
3,843
rank
71,415
PlumX Metrics