Buying algorithms vs. Programming
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Thread: Buying algorithms vs. Programming

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Buying algorithms vs. Programming

    Do any members have experience buying algorithms vs. programming them yourself? I know some firms sell unlimited download of algorithms (Numerical Algorithm Group) for $3000 per year. Do you think that is a good deal? Do you have any experience with such a service? Thanks, Steve

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming

    Quote Originally Posted by schastain1 View Post
    Do any members have experience buying algorithms vs. programming them yourself? I know some firms sell unlimited download of algorithms (Numerical Algorithm Group) for $3000 per year. Do you think that is a good deal? Do you have any experience with such a service?
    I cannot vouch for a particular company and I don't know if this particular offer is a good deal for you.

    But what I can say in general is that it makes sense to buy algorithms unless they're central to your business. If the algorithms are at the very core of what you do and what gives you the edge over the competition then you should develop them in house.

    It's a strategic choise. If the algorithms are mere important it's much better to buy them. You get higher quality for less money. But if the algorithms are the soul and heart of the company then it's a big mistake not to fully control them. You lose edge.

    It's a common mistake. For example to introduce an application framework in order "not to reinvent the wheel again" may make sense. But the application framework will impose certain ways of doing things and limit your choises and it may very well be that this goes totally contrary to what your business is all about. It can spell disaster so be careful before you rationalize yourself out of business just to spare a few bucks.
    Last edited by nuzzle; October 12th, 2012 at 02:27 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Re: Buying algorithms vs. Programming

    I agree with everything nuzzle has to say, except you [definitely] will lose edge if your core algorithm was developed out of house. Personally, if you are already buying algorithms from this company, I would go ahead and buy that core algorithm, but only if you receive the source code.

    I am assuming that once you pay the 3,000 to receive the algorithm(s) you are buying the rights to use the algorithms in whatever manner you chose. It is possible that they are actually selling you a dynamically linked library, which prevents you from modifying the code. For now let us pretend they give you the document containing the actual code. If you only use the code purely as a substitute for writing it yourself that is a bad idea. In that regard, I totally agree with nuzzle.

    However, if you took the code and adapted it, you would have an edge on the algorithm developer, and anyone too lazy or too something to modify the code. Plus, you may gain an edge on yourself. One you will develop the code that much quicker, and two you may realize a feature that surpasses the competition, because you adapted their code.

    In regards to having someone else selling your company code, I would want to do a little research first. 3,000 sounds like a good deal, especially given that your average programmer writes 1 line of shipped code/ hour. If this average programmer is paid 60,000/year, and he works 1500 hour/year, then he writes (on average) 1500 lines/year. Each line of code would cost $40. However, these lines are created by an average programmer, whom probably writes average code. The company in question may create average code. Assuming that their code is just as good as you would have created, then they would need to hand you 75 lines of code. Please note, that I am only guessing at how many lines of code the average programmer writes. I was able to find someone, whom seems knowledgeable, saying on the internet, that the average programmer writes one line of shippable code per hour.

    The potential advantages to using this company are you may receive better code, you should receive it quickly, and you don't need to worry about employee related costs. For example, you would not need to pay them for vacation time or benefits like you would an in-house programmer.

    Hopefully, this helps make the decision easier for you. Unfortunately, I have not dealt with a company selling algorithms, so I can not tell you if this particular is selling you a good deal or not. Good luck with verifying their credentials.

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