Software engineering is gravely hampered by immature practices. Specific problems include: The prevalence of fads more typical of the fashion industry than an engineering discipline; a huge number of methods and method variants, with differences little understood and artificially magnified; the lack of credible experimental evaluation and validation; and the split between industry practice and academic research.
At the root of the problems we lack a sound, widely accepted theoretical basis. A prime example of such a basis is Maxwell’s equations in electrical engineering. It is difficult to fathom what electrical engineering would be today without those four concise equations. They are a great example to the statement “There is nothing so practical as a good theory”. In software engineering we have nothing similar, and there is widespread doubt whether it is needed. This talk will argue for the need of a basic theory in software engineering, a theory identifying its pure essence, its common ground or its kernel.
The Semat (Software Engineering Methods and Theory) community addresses this huge challenge. It supports a process to refound software engineering based on a kernel of widely-agreed elements, extensible for specific uses, addressing both technology and people issues. This kernel represents the essence of software engineering.
Reference: ASE 2012 Keynote, by Ivar Jacobson
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