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Brooks' Law

/bru̇ks lȯ/

prov. "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later" -- a result of the fact that the advantage from splitting work among N programmers is O(N) (that is, proportional to N), but the complexity and communications cost associated with coordinating and then merging their work is O(N^2) (that is, proportional to the square of N).

The quote is from Fred Brooks, a manager of IBM's OS/360 project and author of 'The Mythical Man-Month' (Addison-Wesley, 1975, ISBN 0-201-00650-2), an excellent early book on software engineering. The myth in question has been most tersely expressed as "Programmer time is fungible" and Brooks established conclusively that it is not. Hackers have never forgotten his advice; too often, management does.

See also creationism, second-system effect.