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In 2013 I emailed 50 programmers whose projects I studied and admired asking them "Would you be willing to share the # of hours you have spent practicing programming? Back of the envelope numbers are fine!". Some emails bounced back. Some went unanswered. But five coders wrote back.
I promised I would compile the responses and publish the results to the public domain. But, while waiting for more responses to trickle in, I slowly forgot about this project, until this morning (7/18/2019), when I stumbled upon one of those old emails. Sorry for the delay! This turned out to be a tiny study, but given the great code these folks have written, I think the results are interesting (and a testament to practice!):Name WikipediaPage GitHubId Hours YearOfEstimate BornIn Donald Knuth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth 56000 2013 1938 Rob Pike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Pike robpike 30000 2013 1956 Peter Norvig https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Norvig norvig 30000 2013 1956 Stephen Wolfram https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Wolfram StephenWolfram 50000 2013 1959 Lars Bak https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lars_Bak_(computer_programmer) larsbak 30000 2013 1965
No evidence has been found that the 10,000 hour strategy is flawed. :)
I hope these data points can encourage other aspiring programmers as much as they encouraged me. I am eternally grateful to the programmers who responded. Back then I was 5 years into my programming career, I had passed 10,000 hours of practice, and was starting to worry that the "10,000 hour strategy" I had been following and telling other aspiring programmers to follow may have been in vain, because I was still a pretty bad programmer (many would argue that today, 6 years later, I'm not much better, but now I can say that's just because I only have 29,000 hours of practice). These busy coders answered my cold emails with not just a number but many encouraging words and thoughts. One of my favorite responses was from Peter Norvig, who sent me a Lisp program computing his estimate:
# sum(years * (hours/week)) * (weeks/year) (4 * 10 # college + 2 * 30 # first job + 5 * 20 # grad school + 6 * 20 # faculty, research faculty + 6 * 25 # programming jobs + 15 * 10 # management jobs ) * 48
Thank you everyone!
Please feel free to send pull requests with your own data added to "data.csv".
This is released to the public domain.
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