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Prospects for an Engineering Discipline of Software

September 1990 Technical Report
Mary Shaw

This 1990 report examines the practice of engineering and the way it has evolved in other disciplines.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number

CMU/SEI-90-TR-020

Abstract

Software Engineering is not yet a true engineering discipline, but it has the potential to become one. Older engineering fields offer glimpses of the character software engineering might have. From these hints and an assessment of the current state of software practice, we can project some characteristics software engineering will have and suggest some steps toward an engineering discipline of software. 

This paper begins by examining the usual practice of engineering and the way it has evolved in other disciplines. This discussion provides a historical context for assessing the current practice of software production and setting out an agenda for attaining an engineering practice.