Zipfs law is a testament to the order in our world, showing that the same patterns emerge in a wide variety of situations. The researchers used four orders of magnitude of data detailing the evolution of open source software applications created for a Linux operating system to confirm the assumption.
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The team studied Debian Linux, a free operating system continuously being developed by more than 1,000 volunteers from around the world. Developers create software packages, such as text editors or music players, that are added to the system. Beginning with 474 packages in 1996, Debian Linux has expanded to include more than 18,000 packages today. The packages form an intricate network, with some packages having greater connectivity than others, as defined by how many other packages depend on a given package.