Structured Software and the Break with Electrical Engineers

Speaker: David Grier
Date: Thu 13th March 2014
Time: 14:30

Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD

And Also:
Date: Tue 16th February 2016
Time: 17:30

The Conference Centre. Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester. M3 4FP

About the seminar

With the growth of the computer industry came the demand to create and disseminate well designed and well constructed. Just as civil engineers had learned in the 18th century and the mechanical and electrical engineers, software engineers could not create good software merely by knowing the science of computing - the basics of the stored program or the fundamental ideas of algorithms and data structures. They needed a process that would discipline their efforts. Software engineers spent much of the decade of the 1970s flirting with different ideas from mechanical and electrical engineering as the basic of their engineering discipline. Many assumed that electrical engineering would be the basis for software engineering, as the computer was an electrical appliance and electrical engineers had created it. However, by the early 1980s, software engineers were ready to make a firm and decisive break with the electrical engineering community and embrace principles that were based on the idea of statistical quality control. These principles distressed electrical engineers for they suggested that software was never complete and reinforced a claim, still common among some electrical engineers, that software was not an engineered artifact.

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