"The Challenge of Pervasive Software to the Conventional Wisdom of Software Engineering"

Mary Shaw
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University


The conventional wisdom of software engineering holds that software systems are developed by software professionals, that they have knowable (if evolving) requirements, that project managers control system configurations, that results can be computed directly, and that the systems can, at least in principle, be validated.

In fact, the conventional wisdom fails to account for much of the software that permeates everyday life. For example, the social and economic success of the Internet arises from the proliferation, evolution, and interaction of applications and services that have been independently created by diverse stakeholders.

We will explore the ways in which the conventional wisdom falls short and the corresponding new research opportunities, including architectural approaches to describing the software systems that have become integral to modern life.


Mary Shaw received her B.A. from Rice University and her Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University. She has been a member of the faculty at Carnegie Mellon since she completed her Ph.D. degree in 1972. Shaw's main area of research interest is software engineering, including architectural, educational and historical aspects.

Shaw has received numerous awards for her contributions to software engineering, including the Stevens Award and the Warnier Prize. She is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Mary Shaw is the Alan J. Perlis Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Host: Professor Jane Hayes