Re: [SystemSafety] Logic

From: Steve Tockey < >
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 01:09:16 +0000

I also wish it were true, and the thrust of my work over the past 20 years (and forward until I can't work anymore) is to try to make progress in making it become true.

As for those criteria, I've heard them before and pretty much agree with them. Specifically:

  1. There are local bodies like the British Computer Society (BCS) and IEEE Computer Society that are trying to take on some (if not all) of this role. I can't speak for BCS or anyone else's efforts in this area but I'm very familiar with what IEEE-CS has been doing.
  2. IEEE-CS just published (last December?) a major revision of SWEBOK Guide. It doesn't set the curriculum, but it at least establishes the topics that need to be addressed. There was the Undergraduate Curriculum Recommendations ("SE-2004" aka "SEEK") but they probably need to be updated a bit. I don't know the status there. Within the last 12-24 months, there was a revision of the Graduate Software Engineering Recommended Curriculum ("GSwERC" or something like that).
  3. IEEE-CS and ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) jointly published the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice about 10 years ago. See
  4. I believe they are in the IEEE-CS case
  5. This is already in place in IEEE-CS
  6. This is a legal issue that's up to the relevant jurisdiction. At least in the US, there is no such legal restriction for software development. There is if you want to call yourself a "software engineer" because that's a legally reserved term in most US states. And the NCEES (the national board for engineering) does recognize "Software Engineering" and has an licensing exam in place. Last I heard, only 3 had taken the exam. The work to develop the licensing exam was partially supported by IEEE-CS
  7. I believe this is true.
  8. This is, I believe, explicitly addressed in the code of ethics
  9. I claim this is also true based on SWEBOK V3, the curriculum recommendations, etc.

My point here is that I claim that all of the pieces are there, ready to go. The issue is uptake by the day-to-day practitioner. I'm constantly amazed by how few practicing developers are even aware of any of the above. I'm not sure how to get practitioners to pay attention to any of this, but it does already exist.

From: Martyn Thomas <martyn_at_xxxxxx Date: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:10 AM
Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] Logic

On 16/02/2014 16:58, John Knight wrote:
Engineering is a profession not some amateur activity.

I wish this were true for software development.

Here are the criteria for a profession that some professions use in the UK:

Criteria for a Group to be Considered a Profession

  1. The profession must be controlled by a governing body which in professional matters directs the behaviour of its members. For their part the members have a responsibility to subordinate their selfish private interests in favour of support for the governing body.
  2. The governing body must set adequate standards of education as a condition of entry and thereafter ensure that students obtain an acceptable standard of professional competence. Training and education do not stop at qualification. They must continue throughout the member's professional life.
  3. The governing body must set the ethical rules and professional standards which are to be observed by the members. They should be higher than those established by the general law.
  4. The rules and standards enforced by the governing body should be designed for the benefit of the public and not for the private advantage of the members.
  5. The governing body must take disciplinary action including, if necessary, expulsion from membership should the rules and standards it lays down not be observed or should a member be guilty of bad professional work.
  6. Work is often reserved to a profession by statute - not for the advantage of the members but because, for the protection of the public, it should be carried out only by persons with the requisite training, standards and disciplines.
  7. The governing body must satisfy itself that there is fair and open competition in the practice of the profession so that the public are not at risk of being exploited. It follows that members in practice must give information to the public about their experience, competence, capacity to do the work and the fees payable.
  8. The members of the profession, whether in practice or in employment, must be independent in thought and outlook. They must be willing to speak their minds without fear or favour. They must not allow themselves to be put under the control or dominance of any person or organisation which could impair that independence.
  9. In its specific field of learning a profession must give leadership to the public it serves.

I think we fail on all of them in the UK.


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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Wed Feb 19 2014 - 02:09:30 CET

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