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John D. Musa

William Everett
James Cusick
Laurie Williams

Pages: pp. 102

On 25 April a software engineering giant passed away. John D. Musa succumbed in Morristown, New Jersey, to injuries suffered in the summer of 2008. John is best known for his research in software reliability modeling, his work in defining the software reliability engineering (SRE) discipline, and his tireless efforts in the technology transfer of SRE into practice.

John was born on Long Island, New York. He graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BS and an MS in electrical engineering. John and his wife Marilyn were married for 49 years and lived in Morristown. John was known as an aficionado of fine wines and French dining. He and Marilyn enjoyed opera and their many trips to France.

John served as a US Navy engineering officer in the late '50s. Afterward, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories and worked there for 35 years until his retirement in 1996 as a technical supervisor. He continued working through his own company to provide SRE training and consulting.

John had been involved in software reliability since 1973. His many contributions include the two most widely used models (one with Kazuhira Okumoto); the concept, practice, and application of operational profiles; and the integration of SRE activities into all phases of the software development life cycle. John's 1975 paper "A Theory of Software Reliability and Its Application" ( IEEE Trans. Software Eng., vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 312–327) opened the door for the application of software reliability. However, John's real contribution was his later work with software development organizations, collecting failure data sets during system testing and applying software reliability growth models to estimate and predict reliability. This work demonstrated these models' validity and practicality.

He published some 100 articles and papers, gave more than 200 major presentations, and made numerous videos. He's the principal author of the widely acclaimed pioneering book Software Reliability: Measurement, Prediction, Application (McGraw-Hill, 1987) and the author of Software Reliability Engineering: More Reliable Software, Faster Development and Testing (McGraw-Hill, 1998) and Software Reliability Engineering: More Reliable Software Faster and Cheaper, Second Edition (AuthorHouse, 2004).

John organized and led the transfer of SRE into practice at AT&T, spearheading the effort that defined it as a "best current practice." His leadership has been recognized by every edition of Who's Who in America since 1990 and by American Men and Women of Science. The Encyclopedia of Software Engineering recognizes John for his SRE contributions. He was honored as an IEEE Fellow in recognition for his contributions to software engineering, particularly software reliability. In 2004, the IEEE Reliability Society named him Engineer of the Year.

John served on the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors. He was instrumental in starting the International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering and the Software Reliability Engineering Committee under the IEEE Computer Society's Technical Council on Software Engineering. He also served on IEEE Spectrum's editorial board.

John's friends and colleagues will greatly miss him. For more on John's approach to SRE and for a previously unpublished 2007 interview with him, visit

About the Authors

William Everett is the principal consultant at SPRE (Software Process and Reliability Engineering). Contact him at
James Cusick is a Director IT at Wolters Kluwer. Contact him at
Laurie Williams is an associate professor in the Computer Science Department at North Carolina State University's College of Engineering. Contact her at
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