1 Software Engineering: A Discipline Like No Other

On the face of it, software engineering sounds like an engineering discipline among others, such as chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering. We will explore, in this chapter, in what way and to what extent software engineering differs from other engineering disciplines.


Civil engineering and mechanical engineering date back to antiquity or before, as one can see from various sites (buildings, road networks, utility infrastructures, etc.) around the Mediterranean basin. Chemical engineering (Lavoisier and others) and electrical engineering (Franklin and others) can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Nuclear engineering (Pierre and Marie Curie) emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and industrial engineering emerged around the time of the Second World War, with issues of logistics. By contrast, software engineering is a comparatively young discipline, emerging as it did in the second half of the twentieth century. The brief history of this discipline can be divided into five broad eras, lasting approximately one decade each, which are as follows:

  • The Sixties: The Era of Pioneers. This era marks the first time that practitioners and researchers came face to face with the complexities, paradoxes, and anomalies of software engineering. Software projects of this era were ventures into unchartered territory, characterized by high ...

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