Summary and Info
The first ESPRIT programme contained several ambitious projects. of which REQUEST. with its wide brief covering all issues of assessment of quality and reliability of software process and product. was one. Within REQUEST. the research described in this volume. concerning those special problems of software that is required to have extremely high reliability. was particularly difficult and ambitious. The problems of software reliability are essentially twofold. On the one hand there is a concern with methods for achieving adequate reliability. on the other hand there is a need to evaluate what has actually been achieved in a particular case. Naturally. far more effort has been spent over the years on the former problem; indeed. there is a sense in which all of conventional software engineering can be seen as a response to this problem. However. it is becoming clearer than ever that we can only claim to have a truly sCientific approach. and so justify the description software engineering. when we are able to measure the attributes of process and product. It is still common to find software development methods recommended to users on purely anecdotal grounds. This is not good enough. Rational choices between rival approaches can only be made on the basis of quantified costs and benefits. Even more worrying is the tendency to argue that a software product can be depended upon merely because it has been developed by honest men using such anecdotal 'good practice'.
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