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The Software Engineering Silver Bullet Conundrum
March/April 2008 (vol. 25 no. 2)
pp. 18-19
Daniel M. Berry, University of Waterloo
Fred Brooks argued in 1986 that, for various reasons, no software engineering silver bullet would be found in the next decade. I argue now that the main reason that there can be no software engineering silver bullet is that as soon as one is produced, we software engineers move on almost immediately to solve even harder problems for which the silver bullet does not help much. That a silver bullet quickly ceases to be silver is the basic conundrum of software engineering silver bullets.

1. F.P. Brooks Jr., "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering," Computer, vol. 20, no. 4, 1987, pp. 10–19; originally published in Proc. IFIP 10th World Computer Congress, North-Holland, 1986.
2. D.M. Berry, "The Inevitable Pain of Software Development: Why There Is No Silver Bullet," Radical Innovation of Software and Systems Eng. in the Future, Proc. 2002 Monterey Conf., LNCS 2941, Springer, 2004, pp. 50–74, .
3. M.M. Lehman, "Programs, Life Cycles, and Laws of Software Evolution," Proc. IEEE, vol. 68, no. 9, 1980, pp. 1060–1076.
4. L.A. Belady and M.M. Lehman, "A Model of Large Program Development," IBM Systems J., vol. 15, no. 3, 1976, pp. 225–252.
5. R.W. Scheifler and J. Gettys, "The X Window System," ACM Trans. Computer Graphics, vol. 5, no. 2, 1986, pp. 110–141.

Index Terms:
silver bullet, essence, accidents, pain of software development, human ambition, requirements change, software engineering methods
Daniel M. Berry, "The Software Engineering Silver Bullet Conundrum," IEEE Software, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 18-19, March-April 2008, doi:10.1109/MS.2008.51
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