The Many Faces of Software Unreliability

Taz Daughtrey

Taz Daughtrey is Senior Software Quality Scientist at the Data and Analysis Center for Software and a member of the Computer Science faculty at James Madison University. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, the Founding Editor of its peer-reviewed journal SOFTWARE QUALITY PROFESSIONAL, and a director on the American Software Testing Qualifications Board. Taz's previous more


Software reliability - or, more exactly, the reliability of software-based systems - can be profitably addressed through appropriate analogies to hardware reliability if software distinctives are properly understood. The wide range of possible failure modes make it useful to speak of unreliability: the nature and degree to which the system fails to meet its expectations. Modeling tools allow one to begin quantifying predicted software reliability in advance of placing a system into operation.As all aspects of society increasingly depend on software-based systems, the engineering of reliable software is clearly becoming a professional obligation. Practitioners now have at hand tools for applying proven quality practices in designing, constructing, and evaluating these systems. Recognizing the many ways software might be unreliable can forewarn and forearm those who seek to provide the benefits of software to society.Learning Objectives:Contrast software reliability issues to hardware reliability.Describe successful approaches in software reliability engineering.Indicate tools and techniques available to specify, design, and assess software-based systems of adequate reliability.

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