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What is Software Entropy?

 , updated on January 27, 2017
Software entropy is the tendency for an instance of installed software to decline in quality with time.

Second Law of Thermodynamics

A principle of physics known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system increases over time. In other words, systems move from an ordered state to a disordered state over time. This process is typically irreversible.
Installed software goes into decline due to factors such as error rates in data storage devices. Complex software such as operating systems that are continually updating configuration files and state data are particularly likely to go in decline with time on a particular machine. Even if the software itself makes no mistakes, an unlikely scenario, errors in the computing devices on which it relies eventually lead to a decline.

Software Entropy vs Technical Debt

Software entropy can often be fixed by installing a fresh copy of software on a new machine. It should not be confused with quality issues with code itself such as technical debt.
Overview: Software Entropy
TypeSoftware Quality
DefinitionThe tendency for an instance of software to become increasingly error prone with time.
Related ConceptsWear And Tear
Software Quality
Data Rot
Reliability Engineering

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