What is software?

The Role of Empirical Methods in Answering the Question
  • Leon J. Osterweil
Open Access


This paper is an updating of a paper previously published in Automated Software Engineering, entitled “What is Software?” [Osterweil 2008]. That previous paper, written over five years ago, made a case for the importance of understanding the essence of what “software” is, noting that computer software is one of a number of different kinds of intellectual products that can and should be considered to be closely related to each other. The paper noted that laws, processes, and recipes all seem to be closely related in fundamental ways to computer software, and suggested that all might be considered to be subtypes of a type of intellectual product that might be called “software”. That being the case, the earlier paper suggested that studying any of these might well produce results of interest and value to the others, and studying the relations among these types of artifacts might ultimately provide insight into the fundamental nature of the type of thing of which all might be considered to be subtypes.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research, School of Computer ScienceUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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