The Software Crisis
The most visible symptoms of the software crisis are
Late delivery, over budget
Product does not meet specified requirements
Some observations on the software crisis
“A malady that has carried on this long must be called normal” (Booch, p. 8) o
Software system requirements are moving targets
There may not be enough good developers around to create all the new software that users need o
A significant portion of developers’ time must often be dedicated to the maintenance or preservation of geriatric software Software engineering was spurred by the so-called software crisis of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, which identified many of the problems of software development. Many software projects ran over budget and schedule. Some projects caused property damage. A few projects caused loss of life. The software crisis was originally defined in terms of productivity, but evolved to emphasize quality. Some used the term software crisis to refer to their inability to hire enough qualified programmers.
Cost and Budget Overruns: The OS/360 operating system was a classic example. This decade-long project from the 1960s eventually produced one of the most complex software systems at the time. OS/360 was one of the first large (1000 programmers) software projects. Fred Brooks claims in The Mythical Man Month that he made a multi-million dollar mistake of not developing a coherent architecture before starting development.
Property Damage: Software defects can cause property damage. Poor software security allows hackers to steal identities, costing time, money, and reputations.
Life and Death: Software defects can kill. Some embedded systems used in radiotherapy machines failed so catastrophically that they administered lethal doses of radiation to patients. The most famous of these failures is the Therac 25 incident. Peter G. Neumann has kept a contemporary list of software problems and disasters. The software crisis has been slowly fizzling out, because it is unrealistic to remain in crisis mode for more than 20 years. SEs are accepting that the problems of SE are truly difficult and only hard work over many decades can solve them.
The software crisis was a term used in the early days of computing science. The term was used to describe the impact of rapid increases in computer power and the complexity of the problems which could be tackled. In essence, it refers to the difficulty of writing correct, understandable, and verifiable computer programs. The roots of the software crisis are complexity, expectations, and change. The term "software crisis" was coined by F. L. Bauer at the first NATO Software Engineering Conference in 1968 at Garmisch, Germany. An early use of the term is in Edsger Dijkstra's 1972 ACM Turing Award Lecture: The major cause of the software crisis is that the machines have become several orders of magnitude more powerful! To put it quite bluntly: as long as there were no machines, programming was no problem at all; when we had a few weak computers, programming became a mild problem, and now we have gigantic computers, programming has become an equally gigantic problem. – Edsger Dijkstra, The Humble Programmer (EWD340), Communications of the ACM The causes of the software crisis were linked to the overall complexity of hardware and the software development process. The crisis manifested itself in several ways:
Projects running over-budget.
Projects running over-time.
Software was very inefficient.
Software was of low quality.
Software often did not meet requirements.
Projects were unmanageable and code difficult to maintain.
Software was never delivered.
Many of the software problems were caused by increasingly complex hardware. In his essay, Dijkstra noted that the newer computers in his day "embodied such serious flaws that [he] felt that with a single stroke the...
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