The term "Software Engineering" (SE) is a profession dedicated to the designing,
implementing, and modifying of software so that it is of higher quality, more
affordable to the average consumer, maintainable, and faster to build.
The term "software engineering" first appeared in the 1968 NATO Software
Engineering Conference and was meant to provoke thought regarding the perceived
"software crisis" at the time.
However, since the field of software engineering is still relatively young compared
to its sister fields of engineering, there is still much debate around what software
engineering actually is, and if it conforms to the classical definition of engineering.
There are some people who argue that development of computer software is more of
an art than a science, and that attempting to impose engineering disciplines over a
type of art is an exercise in futility because what represents good practice in the
creation of software is not even defined.
Other people, such as Steve McConnell, author of Code Complete, Rapid
Development, Software Estimation, and Other Books, argue that engineering's blend
of art and science to achieve practical ends provides a useful model for software
The IEEE Computer Society's Software Engineering Body of Knowledge defines
"software engineering" as the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable
approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study
of these approaches; that is, the application of engineering to software.
Software development, which is a much used and more generic term, does not
necessarily subsume the engineering paradigm.
Although it is questionable as to what impact it has had on actual software
development over the last, oh, more than 40 years or so, the Software Engineering
field's future looks quite bright according to the periodicals, "Money Magazine" and
"Salary.com", who rated the job of "software engineering" as the very best job in the
United States in the year of 2006.
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