Twin Cities SIGAda presents:

Paul Stachour (
Programming Alternatives of Minnesota

Effect of Language Level on Project Effort

7-9 PM, Tuesday February 4th, 1997
Oxboro Library
8801 Portland Avenue, Bloomington, Minnesota.

In the early 1970's, there was significant debate on the relative merits of assembly vs systems-implementation languages. Many people held that the necessary efficiency and control could only be gained through coding "Close to the Machine". Eventually we learned that higher global efficiency was possible only with systems-implementation languages. In the late 1980's, and continuing today, we still have people who insist that only with low-level languages such as "C" can we have efficiency and control.

Barry Boehm, with his COst COnstructive MOdel, showed us that the primary driving factor behind project costs was the effort needed to design, write, and test a source-line-of-code (SLOC). He also, through regression analysis, showed what other cost factors highly influence the amount of effort required on a project.

From data gathered over many projects in the 80's and 90's, the Software Productivity Institute has provided a set of numbers, the "language level", that relates how many source-lines-of-code are necessary to implement a given amount of function (a function-point).

Tucker Taft, of Intermetrics, has written a paper showing why Ada programs can be compiled to more efficient code than C programs. The specifics are different, but the reasoning (what is visable to the compiler, and how the compiler can take advatage of it) is the same as that for the assembler versus systems-implementation languages.

Paul Stachour will relate all 4 of the topics above, and then demonstrate, though use of a COCOMO program created at USC, how the language-level of Ada gives it such an overwhelming advantage that even a expertly-trained "C" staff (all programmers have 5 years or more of experience) still takes about 20% more effort than a totally untrained (no experience at all) Ada staff. Paul will "walk us through the numbers" and plug into COCOMO any assumptions you would care to specify about the 4 main COCOMO factors:

      Project, Computer, People, and Project.

Oxboro Library may be reached by taking the Portland Avenue exit from Interstate 494 in Bloomington, and driving about 10 blocks south.

This meeting is open to the public. Twin Cities SIGAda is a special interest group of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). For more information regarding this meeting or membership in Twin Cities SIGAda contact Chad Broshar at 871-1339, Email to, or point your WWW browser to "" or "".