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An Introduction to Software Architecture

January 1994 Technical Report
David Garlan, Mary Shaw

This paper provides an introduction to the emerging field of software architecture.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



As the size of software systems increases, the algorithms and data structures of the computation no longer constitute the major design problems. When systems are constructed from many components, the organization of the overall system—the software architecture—presents a new set of design problems. This level of design has been addressed in a number of ways, including informal diagrams and descriptive terms, module interconnection languages, templates, and frameworks for systems that serve the needs of specific domains, and formal models of component integration mechanisms. In this paper, we provide an introduction to the emerging field of software architecture. We begin by considering a number of common architectural styles upon which many systems are currently based, and how different styles can be combined in a single design. Then, we present six case studies to illustrate how architectural representations can improve our understanding of complex software systems. Finally, we survey some of the outstanding problems in the field, and consider a few of the promising research directions.