SEI Insights

SEI Blog

The Latest Research in Software Engineering and Cybersecurity

Managing technical debt, which refers to the rework and degraded quality resulting from overly hasty delivery of software capabilities to users, is an increasingly critical aspect of producing cost-effective, timely, and high-quality software products. A delicate balance is needed between the desire to release new software capabilities rapidly to satisfy users and the desire to practice sound software engineering that reduces rework.

In our work with acquisitionprograms, we've often observed a major problem: requirements specifications that are incomplete, with many functional requirements missing. Whereas requirements specifications typically specify normal system behavior, they are often woefully incomplete when it comes to off-nominal behavior, which deals with abnormal events and situations the system must detect and how the system must react when it detects that these events have occurred or situations exist. Thus, although requirements typically specify how the system must behave under normal conditions, they often do not adequately specify how the system must behave if it cannot or should not behave as normally expected. This blog post examines requirements engineering for off-nominal behavior.

After 47 weeks and 50 blog postings, the sands of time are quickly running out in 2011. Last week's blog posting summarized key 2011 SEI R&D accomplishments in our four major areas of software engineering and cyber security: innovating software for competitive advantage, securing the cyber infrastructure, accelerating assured software delivery and sustainment for the mission, and advancing disciplined methods for engineering software.This week's blog posting presents a preview of some upcoming blog postings you'll read about in these areas during 2012.

A key mission of the SEI is to advance the practice of software engineering and cyber security through research and technology transition to ensure the development and operation of software-reliant Department of Defense (DoD) systems with predictable and improved quality, schedule, and cost. To achieve this mission, the SEI conducts research and development (R&D) activities involving the DoD, federal agencies, industry, and academia. One of my initial blog postings summarized the new and upcoming R&D activitieswe had planned for 2011. Now that the year is nearly over, this blog posting presents some of the many R&D accomplishments we completed in 2011.

As with any new initiative or tool requiring significant investment, the business value of statistically-based predictive models must be demonstrated before they will see widespread adoption. The SEI Software Engineering Measurement and Analysis (SEMA)initiative has been leading research to better understand how existing analytical and statistical methods can be used successfully and how to determine the value of these methods once they have been applied to the engineering of large-scale software-reliant systems.

The DoD relies heavily on mission- and safety-critical real-time embedded software systems (RTESs), which play a crucial role in controlling systems ranging from airplanes and cars to infusion pumps and microwaves. Since RTESs are often safety-critical, they must undergo an extensive (and often expensive) certification process before deployment. This costly certification process must be repeated after any significant change to the RTES, such as migrating a single-core RTES to a multi-core platform, significant code refactoring, or performance optimizations, to name a few.

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I'd like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports and notes. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in Agile methods, insider threat,the SMART Grid Maturity Model, acquisition, and CMMI. This post includes a listing of each report, author/s, and links where the published reports can be accessed on the SEI website.