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Statistical Software Engineering
Designed experiments. Software engineering is inherently experimental, yet relatively few designed experiments have been conducted. Software engineering education programs must stress the desirability, where feasible, of validating new techniques using statistically valid designed experiments.
Exploratory data analysis. Exploratory data analysis methods are essentially ''model free," whereby the investigator hopes to be surprised by unexpected behavior rather than having thinking constrained to what is expected. Modeling. Recent advances in the statistical community in the past decade have effectively relaxed the linearity assumptions of nearly all classical techniques. There should be an emphasis on educational information exchange leading to more and wider use of these recently developed techniques.
Risk analysis. A paradigm for managing risk for the space shuttle program, discussed in Chapter 2 of this report, and the corresponding statistical methods can play a crucial role in identifying risk-prone parts of software systems and of combined hardware and software systems.
Attitude toward assumptions. Software engineers should be aware that violating assumptions is not as important as thoroughly understanding the violation's effects on conclusions. Statistics textbooks, courses, and consulting activities should convey the statistician's level of understanding about and perspective on the importance and implications of assumptions for statistical inference methods.
Visualization. Graphics is important in exploratory stages in helping to ascertain how complex a model the data ought to support; in the analysis stage, by which residuals are displayed to examine what the currently entertained model has failed to account for; and in the presentation stage, in which graphics can provide succinct and convincing summaries of the statistical analysis and the associated uncertainty. Visualization can help software engineers cope with, and understand, the huge quantities of data collected as part of the software development process.
Tools. It is important to identify good statistical computing tools for software engineers. An overview of statistical computing, languages, systems, and packages should be done that is focused specifically for the benefit of software engineers.