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Like Wine, Programmers Improve with Age

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 04:48PM

As captured by Moore's Law, the rate of technological developments follows an exponential growth pattern, with one advance leading to many. This means that one year's development is also faster than the previous, which may make it hard for some to keep up, at least in theory. Researchers at North Carolina State University decided to test if older programmers have a hard time keeping up with new technologies, compared to younger developers, and found that increasing years comes with increasing skills.

Using over 80,000 profiles of programmers at StackOverflow, the researchers assessed the knowledge of individual programmers by their rating. At StackOverflow, users are able to ask and answer questions, and they are also rated by the quality of their answers and questions. These ratings can be used to estimate a user's understanding of programming, without having to individually survey them. The researchers found that ratings consistently increased with a user's age until they were in their 40's. There was not enough information to determine anything past that age.

The researchers also considered the number of subjects the programmers were commenting on and found that those in their 30's and older were considerably more knowledgeable than those between 15 and 30. Even with newer technologies that are less than ten years old, the older programmers demonstrated equal or greater knowledge. Looks like there is something to be said for experience.

Source: North Carolina State University

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