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Computer Science: Reflections on the Field, Reflections from the Field
rigorous derivation and proof, not by one or two simple examples. Yet, a simple example derived from a practical system may play a major role in validating a new type of development method.
The most commonly successful kinds of validation are based on analysis and real-world experience. Well-chosen examples are also successful.
As in other areas of computer science, maturation of software engineering as a research area has brought more focused, and increasingly explicit, expectations for the quality of research—care in framing questions, quality of evidence, reasoning behind conclusions.
Software engineering remains committed to developing ways to create useful solutions to practical problems. This commitment to dealing with the real world, warts and all, means that software engineering researchers will often have to contend with impure data and under-controlled observations. Most computer science researchers aspire to results that are both theoretically well grounded and practical. Unfortunately, practical problems often require either the simplification of the problem in order to achieve theoretically sound conclusions or else the sacrifice of certainty in the results in favor of results that address the practical aspects of the problem. Software engineering researchers tend to choose the latter course more often than the former.
The community of computer users seems to have a boundless appetite for information-processing capability. Fueled by our collective imagination, this appetite seems to grow even faster than Moore’s-law technology growth. This demand for larger scale and complexity, coupled with an increasing emphasis on dependability and ease of use—especially for users with little computer training—generates new problems, and even new classes of problems for software engineering.