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DoD's Common Programming Language Effort Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131282D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 17 page(s) / 57K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

David A. Fisher: AUTHOR [+3]


Institute for Defense Analyses

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DoD's Common Programming Language Effort

David A. Fisher

Institute for Defense Analyses

DoD's common programming language effort is aimed at reducing the development and maintenance cost and improving the quality of software for embedded computer systems. Here is a brief review of the background, scope, goals, and methods of that effort.

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 that we have gigantic computers, programming has become an equally gigantic problem. In this sense the electronic industry has not solved a single problem, it has only created them -- it has created the problem of using its products. E. W. Dijkstra, Turing Award Lecture

As has often been noted, the past 25 years of digital computing have been characterized by striking increases in computing speed, memory capacity, and hardware reliability, with simultaneous decreases in power consumption and hardware cost. What is perhaps not so widely recognized is that these trends have led to inflated expectations for automating not only those tasks that had been previously performed manually, but also for automating some tasks that hadn't even been attempted before. Much of the burden of these increased expectations has fallen on software.

Within the Department of Defense, systems requirements for software have been expanded, as exemplified by automation of control functions in systems such as Tacfire, the Safeguard ballistic missile defense system, the Airborne Warning and Control System, the Trident ballistic missile sys tom, and the Minuteman system.

Costs. Studies conducted in 1973 and 1974 provide some quantitative data on the size and makeup of the software problems Although little information is available, these studies give some conservative estimates that provide reliable lower bounds on the cost of software in the DoD. For example, in 1973 digital computer software costs were estimated at $3 billion to $3.5 billion annually and were growing in dollars and in proportion to other computer costs. An additional $2 to $3 billion were spent in the same year for the support and operation of computer systems. These studies also showed that the greatest software problems in the DoD, as measured by their cost, are associated with so-called embedded computer systems (Figure 1), and that the majority of costs are incurred in software maintenance rather than development.

The rising cost of computer resources has resulted in increased attention by the...