Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Is Software Engineering Engineering?

technical artwork

Illustration by Camille Chisholm/

Software engineering continues to be dogged by claims it is not engineering. Adopting a computer-systems view that embraces hardware, software, and user environment may help.

The full text of this article is premium content


Edward Lowry

Engineering is largely getting more for less. In software that implies getting more functionality for less complexity. That requires eliminating extraneous complexity including that which is imposed by badly designed language. Currently used languages are are deficient on 6 leading edges compared to what was being designed at IBM 40 years ago:
1. simplicity of expression
2. fluency of expression.
3. generality of subject matter.
4. flexibility of data structures.
5. modularity of basic information building blocks.
6. durability of underlying design.
Hostility toward serious simplification has devastated software engineering for decades.
Edward S. Lowry,

Displaying 1 comment

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.