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Computer Science, Software Engineering, and the Cost of Software Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131359D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 3 page(s) / 19K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

David Feign: AUTHOR [+3]


The Open Channel

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Computer Science, Software Engineering, and the Cost of Software

David Feign

Chapman College

The Open Channel

The Open Channel is exactly what the name implies: a forum for the free exchange of technical ideas. Try to hold your contributions to one page maximum in the final magazine format (about 1000 words).

We'll accept anything (short of libel or obscenity) so long as it's submitted by a member of the Computer Society. If it's really bizarre we may require you to get another member to cosponsor your item.

Send everything to Jim Haynes, Applied Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

F or the past ten years all of the computer industry has been deeply concerned with the skyrocketing costs of software. In contrast, the dramatically falling costs of hardware have evoked predictions of the tremendous expansion of computer applications. In order to fulfill these optimistic predictions, it would seem that something will have to be done about the software problem.

Almost everywhere you look you can find articles about the software problem. Just a bibliography on this subject would fill this publication. The popularity of the subject has led to all sorts of myths, fables, and misunderstandings, but not to very much in the way of solutions. In order to solve any problem, we must first decide what the problem is and what it is not.

There are many ways to reduce the cost of anything. Getting beuer people to do the work is one. Ratios as high as 30 to 1 in "productivity" have been found among different programmers. The obvious solution is to get more intelligent, better trained, and more experienced people to do the work. Intelligence is limited, and the astronomical growth of the computer industry prohibits finding sufficient numbers of trained and experienced people. If this solution to the software problem is to work, we must identify the kinds of training and experience we need' and then we must permit a year to go by so as to give someone a year's experience. I have found that the most useful software is prepared not by the computer specialist but by the specialist in the field of application with a little training in programming. An engineer with a working knowledge of Fortran or an accountant with some familiarity with Cobol can produce better software cheaper than can the computer scientist who is well versed in operating systems and compilers and is fluent in a dozen programming languages. To reduce costs still further, the applications specialist must get more training and experience in programming or the computer sp...