Further scrutiny of what occurred in the process between introduction and detection of a fault is aimed at determining why downstream process elements failed to detect and remove the fault. Such introspective analysis is designed to improve the process and specific process elements so that if a similar fault is introduced again, these process elements will detect it before it gets too far along in the product life cycle. This four-step process improvement is achievable because of the maturity of the overall IBM/Loral software management process. The complete recording of project events in the CM system (phase of the process, change history of involved line(s) of code, the line of code that included an error, the individuals involved, and so on) allows hindsight so that the development team can approach the occurrence of an error not as a failure but rather as an opportunity to improve the process and to find other, similar errors.

Safety Certification

The dependability of safety-critical software cannot be based merely on testing the software, counting and repairing the faults, and conducting "live tests" on shuttle missions. Testing of software for many, many years, much longer than its life cycle, would be required in order to demonstrate software failure probability levels of 10-7 or 10-9 per operational hour. A process must be established, and it must be demonstrated statistically that if that process is followed and maintained under statistical control, then software of known quality will result. One result is the ability to predict a particular level of fault density, in the sense that fault density is proportional to failure intensity, and so provide a confidence level regarding software quality. This approach is designed to ensure that quality is built into the software at a measurable level. IBM's historical data demonstrate a constantly improving process for comfort of space shuttle flight. The use of software engineering methodologies that incorporate statistical analysis methods generally allows the establishment of a benchmark for obtaining a valid measure of how well a product meets a specified level of quality.

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