Moore’s Not Enough: ​4 New Laws of Computing

Moore’s and Metcalfe’s conjectures are taught in classrooms every day—these four deserve consideration, too.

Moore’s Law, as everyone by now knows, predicts that the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years. One of the practical values of Intel cofounder Gordon Moore’s legendary law is that it enables managers and professionals to determine how long they should keep their computers. It also helps software developers to anticipate, broadly speaking, how much bigger their software releases should be.

Metcalfe’s Law is similar to Moore’s Law in that it also enables one to predict the direction of growth for a phenomenon. Based on the observations and analysis of Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet and pioneering innovator in the early days of the Internet, he postulated that the value of a network would grow proportionately to the number of its users squared. A limitation of this law is that a network’s value is difficult to quantify. Furthermore, it is unclear that the growth rate of every network value changes quadratically at the power of two. Nevertheless, this law as well as Moore’s Law remain a centerpiece in both the IT industry and academic computer-science research.

I contend that there are still other regularities in the field of computing that could also be formulated in a fashion similar to that of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s relationships. I would like to propose four such laws.

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