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This paper presents a metric-based approach for estimating the hardware implementation effort (in terms of time) for an application in relation to the number of linear-independent paths of its algorithms. We exploit the relation between the number of edges and linear-independent paths in an algorithm and the corresponding implementation effort. We propose an adaptation of the concept of cyclomatic complexity, complemented with a correction function to take designers' learning curve and experience into account. Our experimental results, composed of a training and a validation phase, show that with the proposed approach it is possible to estimate the hardware implementation effort. This approach, part of our light design space exploration concept, is implemented in our framework ‘‘Design-Trotter'' and offers a new type of tool that can help designers and managers to reduce the time-to-market factor by better estimating the required implementation effort.