Re: [SystemSafety] The "Real world" [was: Qualifying SW as "proven in use"]

From: Les Chambers < >
Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2013 10:02:01 +1000


I'm intrigued. Could you expand on that sentence please.


From: Matt Squair [mailto:mattsquair_at_xxxxxx Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 7:56 PM
To: Les Chambers; Bielefield Safety List Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] The "Real world" [was: Qualifying SW as "proven in use"]  

A special case of information asymmetry economics perhaps?  

Matt Squair

Sent with Sparrow <> 


On Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 10:49 AM, Les Chambers wrote:

In the recent past someone classified the act of


ts-downstream as "taking on technical debt". There is an excellent set of

articles on the subject in IEEE software November/December 2012 issue. See:


It's a compelling metaphor. I was recently working with some air force

officers who were very excited about the concept as it neatly described the

situation that they were in – taking on a vendor's technical debt. An

associated metaphor is "paying down technical debt" - which applies to

refactoring crap code. These metaphors are very useful in explaining to

non-technical managers what a good idea it is to do it right the first time.


-----Original Message-----

From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx



Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 3:00 AM



Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] The "Real world" [was: Qualifying SW as "proven

in use"]




The silliest thing in all of this is that the stakeholders are clearly

clueless about the true source of cost in their software projects. We've

actually measured the degree of rework (fixing things that were done

incorrectly earlier, simply, waste) in software organizations to be over

50%. I've got a technical paper on the topic, if anyone wants. I don't

believe I can include attachments on this list, so if anyone wants just

email me direct and I'll sent it back as a PDF attachment.


The root issue here is that corporate accounting systems lie. They are

*cost* accounting systems, not *value* accounting systems. They are great

for measuring how much money was spent, but they fail miserably at

measuring how much money was saved.


The corporate accounting systems will surely measure the cost of doing

everything we're talking about on the list recently. But tell me where the

accounting system measures how much was saved because we did it a better

way? It doesn't. It can't. So the key problem underneath all of this is an

inability for the stakeholders to really see and appreciate the economic

impacts of what's being discussed here. I'm convinced that if they had a

clue of the value of doing things better, they'd demand that it be done

that way.



-- steve




-----Original Message-----



Date: Monday, July 1, 2013 2:05 AM

To: "systemsafety_at_xxxxxx


Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] The "Real world" [was: Qualifying SW as

"proven in use"]
I agree and I am afraid that we are just requested to stop bothering stakeholders by raising issues understood as costs. Bertrand RICQUE Program Manager, Optronics and Defense Division T +33 (0)1 58 11 96 82 M +33 (0)6 87 47 84 64 23 avenue Carnot 91300 MASSY - FRANCE -----Original Message----- From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx [mailto:systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx Thomas Sent: Monday, July 01, 2013 10:56 AM Cc: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: [SystemSafety] The "Real world" [was: Qualifying SW as "proven in use"] On 01/07/2013 01:01, Les Chambers wrote: I encourage the brains trust on this list to engage with the aggressive ugliness that is the real world and consider how we might deal with it. I recall a lecture given by Dijkstra in 1973. A member of the audience asked " do your methods work on real world problems?" Dijkstra paused, and then said quietly "real world problems. Ah yes, those that remain when you have failed to apply all the known solutions". Over the years, I have heard many excuses for failures to use professional engineering methods.
"if we train the programmers, they'll leave for a better paid job".

"we can't hire programmers who are willing to use that programming
"universities don't teach (maths, project management, quality control,
planning, team working ... ...)"
"the customer insists that we use this (buggy) middleware for
"modern software isn't written - it's assembled from lots of (buggy) COTS"

"if we try to include that in the standard, industry will revolt."

"if we were to ask for that evidence, industry would charge us a fortune"
... and many many more. Most software developers appear to have lost sight of the problem. Every week, I hear someone use the verb "test" when what they mean is "gain assurance that ... is fit for purpose"; this reveals a dangerous, implicit assumption that "test-and-fix" is the only practical way to develop software. Most software is still written in languages without good data structures and strong type-checking. Most software requirements (and even interface specifications) are written in English (or another natural language) - perhaps with some diagrams that lack any rigorous semantics. Most projects have grossly inadequate change control. I rarely see a risk register that is worth anything (except as a demonstration that the project manager isn't managing the project). Is there another trade that (a) builds complex, novel and critical systems using poorly-qualified staff, (b) almost exclusively uses tools that have major known defects, (c) builds systems from components of unknown provenance that cannot be shown to be fit for purpose and (d) nevertheless claims to be professional engineers? Surely it is self-evident that the current state of our profession is unsustainable. Let's stop making excuses and look for ways to accelerate the changes that we know are needed. (Which may be what Les was saying in the extract quoted above). Martyn _______________________________________________ The System Safety Mailing List systemsafety_at_xxxxxx #
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Received on Thu Jul 04 2013 - 02:02:23 CEST

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