Re: [SystemSafety] Software reliability (or whatever you would prefer to call it)

From: C. Michael Holloway < >
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2015 08:20:59 -0500

On 3/6/15 6:18 AM, RICQUE Bertrand (SAGEM DEFENSE SECURITE) wrote:
> The aim is to find a way to convince an authority (which is far from demonstrating something to a scholar) ...
In my experience, demonstrating something to a "scholar" may be often easier than convincing an "authority". That is, at least some scholars seem to be swayed by arguments of dubious cogency and evidence of questionable credibility that would not sway many, if any, approval authorities. The temptation to cite this thread (and its predecessors) as supporting evidence is strong, but I shall resist it.

To be slightly less snarky, I'll elaborate a little bit in very generic terms.

Consider some sub-field of study R. Very smart (and, as with all fields, some not-so-smart) academics are involved in R. Many papers are published. Many of these papers carefully enumerate the conditions C necessary for R to be relevant. For most of the researchers in R, mentioning C is important for reasons of integrity, but irrelevant for their work, because they are only interested in situations in which C holds.

Suppose that in the real world, C never, or almost never, holds. Scholars may likely continue to believe that R is a field worth studying and continue to produce results and continue to seek to convince each other that one approach is a better than another. But approval authorities will not, and should not, be convinced that R should be used in systems they approve, because C does not hold for those systems.


*C. Michael Holloway*, Senior Research Engineer
Safety Critical Avionics Systems Branch, Research Directorate
NASA Langley Research Center / MS 130 Hampton VA 23681-2199 USA

The words in this message are mine alone; neither blame nor credit NASA 
for them.

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Received on Fri Mar 06 2015 - 14:21:14 CET

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