Accidents WITHOUT Essence - The Root Cause of Project Failure

J. Zhu (USA)


Software engineering, Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, enterprise software, business process, machine, worldview


In traditional engineering there is a clear consensus on how things should be built, what standards should be followed and what risks must be taken care of; if an engineer does not follow these practices and something goes wrong, he could get sued. There is no such consensus in software engineering: everyone promotes his or her own methods. The paper studies machine and software, their similarities and differences, and reaches the conclusion that the fundamental underpinning of traditional engineering design is embedded in physical principles and the fundamental underpinning of software design is embedded in arbitrary human imagination. The lack of a stable principle as the medium in software is the root cause of a huge amount of waste in the form of defective and failed software projects. Including the establishment of the missing underpinning in software development process as a first step holds the potential of bringing the maturity and success of conventional engineering to software industry. Reconstructing “physical principles” in software reconsiders the theoretical foundation of the software engineering discipline and its transformation into one comparable to any branch of conventional engineering in terms of success rate, predictability and product quality.

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