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Albert Einstein and Empirical Software Engineering
October 1999 (vol. 32 no. 10)
pp. 32-38

The author believes that scientists apply scientific investigative techniques to gain more understanding of what makes software "good" and how to make software well. Often, they adapt investigative techniques from other disciplines to define measures that make sense in the business, technical, and social contexts people use for decision making. However, the author believes that sometimes failure can educate as well as success. Examples from nineteenth-century physics show how a change in perspective can lead to explanations for previously misunderstood phenomena. The author claims that scientists must also consider whether their measurements constrict their view of what is really happening in the development process, and they must change or expand the approach if they are. Science clearly illustrates the limitations of an overly literal approach to building and maintaining software. Too often, the author believes, scientists tend to view software development the same way nineteenth-century phsicists viewed the universe. Taking a cue from Einstein, scientists should shape their theories and models to fit a more probabilistic reality.

Citation:
Shari Lawrence Pfleeger, "Albert Einstein and Empirical Software Engineering," Computer, vol. 32, no. 10, pp. 32-38, Oct. 1999, doi:10.1109/2.796106
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