Formalisms in Software Engineering: Myths Versus Empirical Facts

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Abstract

The importance of software grows in all sectors of industry and all aspects of life. Given this high dependability on software, the status of software engineering is less than satisfactory. Accidents, recall actions, and late projects still make the news every day. Many of the software engineering research results do not make it into practice, and thereby the gap between research and practice widens constantly. The reasons for not making it into practice range from isufficient commitment for professionalization of software development on the industrial side, to insufficient consideration for practical scale-up issues on the research side, and a tremendous lack of empirical evidence regarding the benefits and limitations of new software engineering methods and tools on both sides. The major focus of this paper is to motivate the creation of credible evidence which in turn will allow for less risky introduction of new software engineering approaches into practice. In order to overcome this progress hindering lack of evidence, both research and practice have to change their paradigms. Research needs to complement each promising new software engineering approach with credible empirical evidence from in vitro controlled experiments and case studies; industry needs to baseline its current state of the practice quantitatively, and needs to conduct in vitro studies of new approaches in order to identify their benefits and limitations in certain industrial contexts.