How Software Engineering Differs From Computer Science

cconnell sends in a piece he wrote for Dr. Dobb’s which “argues that software development will never be a fully formal, rigorous discipline, and the reason is that software engineering involves humans as central to the process.” Quoting: “Software maintainability, for example, is the ability of people to understand, find, and repair defects in a software system. The maintainability of software may be influenced by some formal notions of computer science — perhaps the cyclomatic complexity of the software’s control graph. But maintainability crucially involves humans, and their ability to grasp the meaning and intention of source code. The question of whether a particular software system is highly maintainable cannot be answered just by mechanically examining the software. The same is true for safety. Researchers have used some formal methods to learn about a software system’s impact on people’s health and property. But no discussion of software safety is complete without appeal to the human component of the system under examination.”

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Saturday, June 6th, 2009 Uncategorized