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35 years on: To what extent has software engineering design achieved its goals?

Parmee, I. C.; Simons, Chris; Coward, P. D.


I. C. Parmee

P. D. Coward


The term 'software engineering' was coined in 1968 to introduce the disciplines of established branches of engineering design to software manufacture. Some 35 years on, this paper attempts to gauge the success of software engineering against its original goals, with particular respect to the adoption of an industrial design process. The design issues raised in the 1968 NATO conference are examined and then modern examples of engineering design and software engineering are compared. While many aspects of design are found to be similar between the two, significant dissimilarities are also evident. Knowledge of such similarities and dissimilarities may offer opportunities for software engineering to learn lessons from engineering design, for example in the generation and evaluation of solution variants. Field studies are reviewed for empirical evidence of the success or failure of software engineering; results suggest a mixed picture over a diverse range of application domains. It is found that the issues surrounding software production identified 35 years ago remain unresolved today. Although considerable benefit was gained from adopting fundamental design practices from engineering design, the demands on software engineering continue to increase beyond the capabilities of current software engineering theory and practice.


Parmee, I. C., Simons, C., & Coward, P. D. (2003). 35 years on: To what extent has software engineering design achieved its goals?. IEE Proceedings Software, 150(6), 337-350.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2003
Journal IEE Proceedings: Software
Print ISSN 1462-5970
Publisher Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 150
Issue 6
Pages 337-350
Keywords software enginering design
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