LASER-2007-ICSE - A Future for Software Engineering? Leon...

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A Future for Software Engineering? Leon J. Osterweil Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003 USA Abstract This paper suggests the need for a software engineering research community conversation about the future that the community would like to have. The paper observes that the research directions the community has taken in the past, dating at least back to the formative NATO Conferences in the late 1960’s, have been driven largely by desire to meet the needs of practice. The paper suggests that the community should discuss whether it is now appropriate to balance this problem-solving-oriented research with a stronger complement of curiosity-driven research. This paper does not advocate what that balance should be. Neither does it advocate what curiosity driven research topics should be pursued (although illustrative examples are offered). It does does advocate the need for a community conversation about these questions. 0. Preamble “…we recognize that a practical problem of considerable difficulty and importance has arisen: The successful design, production and maintenance of useful software systems. The importance is obvious and the more so since we see only greater growth in demands and requirements in the future. The consequences of poor performance, poor design, instability and mismatching of promise and performance are not going to be limited to the computing fraternity, or even their nearest neighbors, but will affect considerable sections of our society whose ability to forgive is inversely proportional to their ignorance of the difficulties we face. The source of difficulty is distributed through the whole problem, easy to identify, and yet its cure is hard to pinpoint so that systematic improvement can be gotten. Our problem has arisen from a change of scale which we do not yet know how to reduce to alphabetic proportions. Furthermore we must assume that additional magnification of goal will take place without necessarily being preceded by the emergence of a satisfactory theory or an organized production of tools that will permit work and costs to fall on growth curves which lie significantly below those which now exist. For example, we can see coming the need for systems which permit cooperation, e.g., between engineering and management information. Not only must we know how to build special purpose systems, but how to combine them into larger ones.” A.J. Perlis, 1968 [17]. 1. Introduction What is the future of Software Engineering? To project the future, it seems necessary to understand the past—and the present as well. Knowing the past and the present will indicate just where we are and will also suggest the momentum that will be pushing us forward. But our community and our discipline will face
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This note was uploaded on 09/12/2011 for the course DPQ 09 taught by Professor Johncarpenter during the Spring '08 term at UFSCar.

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LASER-2007-ICSE - A Future for Software Engineering? Leon...

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