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Paired Programming is worth the Expense


Posted by Lawrence Sinclair on 05 Feb 2013 at 00:39

Research has long found that paired programming makes sense. But I still regularly come across people who feel it costs twice as much for the same results. 

Actual scientific experimentation has found that from a financial perspective, paired programming costs about 20% more to develop a given product, but it produces that product almost twice as fast and with fewer defects. Laurie Williams and Robert Kessler put it another way in "All I Really Need to Know about Paired Programming I learned in Kindergarden"[1]:


An experiment by John Nosek at Temple University studied 15 full-time, experienced programmers working for 45 minutes on a challenging problem, important to their organization, in their own environment, and with their own equipment. Five worked individually, 10 worked collaboratively in five pairs. Conditions and materials used were the same for both the experimental (team) and control (individual) groups. This study provided statistically significant results, using a two-sided t-test. “To the surprise of the managers and participants, all the teams outperformed the individual programmers, enjoyed the problem-solving process more, and had greater confidence in their solutions,”Nosek explains. Moreover, the groups completed the task 40% more quickly and effectively by producing better algorithms and code in less time. The majority of the programmers were skeptical of the value of collaboration in working on the same problem and thought it would not be an enjoyable process. However, results show collaboration improved both their performance and their enjoyment of the problem-solving process[8].
1. Williams, Laurie A., and Kessler, Robert R. May 2000/Vol. 43, No. 5 Commun.  ACM
8. Nosek, J. T. The case for collaborative programming. Commun. ACM 41, 3 (Mar. 1998), 105–108.



  1. Ian Moss - Jun 10 2013

    Really good case for Pair Programming. It's hard to imagine that the paper is from 1998, but people are still skeptical. I hope the computer industry starts to learn & mature, and more pairing occurs.

  2. Hieu Le - May 17 2013

    This is good article!

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