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Software engineering: what is it and why it is important

Dec 20, 2022

5 minutes read

Software engineering is the field that deals with the creation and commissioning of new software. You can compare it to software development, but it is much more. Software engineering involves a more serious approach than just product development. A professional who practices software engineering is called a software engineer. So, why is software engineering necessary?

Software engineers intelligently think through the entire path of creating a software product. They begin research long before the creation of the product itself. They have a clearly defined plan. They can imagen what the product will be like in 5 or 10 years. Software engineering is inherent in large software companies. They think through everything in advance, plan and know how to achieve the result. 

Why do we need software engineering?

Software engineering is a structured approach to software development that promotes producing a high-quality product economically efficiently. There are two main components to this definition: you have to create a high-quality product and do it cost-effectively. In other words, a method provides a solution to the main problem of software engineering: creating a quality product with given resources of time, budget, equipment, and people.

Usually, three groups of methods are distinguished:

  • Heuristic methods concerning non-formalized approaches.
  • Formal methods are justified mathematically.
  • Prototyping methods are based on various forms of prototyping.

Software engineering methodology and standards regulate modern project management processes for complex systems and software. They provide the organization, development, and application of proven, high-quality procedures for designing, programming, verifying, testing, and maintaining software tools and their components. Thus, these projects and processes allow for obtaining stable, predictable results and software products of the required quality, which is why software engineering is essential.

Software engineering does not exist in a vacuum, but is closely related to disciplines such as computer science and systems engineering and often appears in the wake of business reengineering. Let’s take a closer look at this area of ​​software engineering.

Informatics (computer science) is a scientific discipline in which mathematical methods determine the formal foundations of computability. It includes mathematical logic, grammar theory, compiler construction methods, standard mathematical methods used in verification and model testing, etc. At first glance, computer science and software engineering are very similar, but the applied application of each discipline is different.

Software engineering is more practical and helps to solve production problems. Computer science is the scientific development of mathematical approaches to programming.

System engineering is a complex of engineering disciplines aimed at developing and creating various artificial systems in the energy sector, telecommunications, embedded real-time systems, etc. The software, in this case, often becomes part of the system, directly controlling the hardware. Such systems are related to software and hardware, so programmers who develop software for them must be very well-versed in the operation of the equipment itself.

Business reengineering is the modernization of a business in a single company by introducing new methods of work based on modern information systems. The process may relate to the internal reorganization of the company or is aimed at creating new customer service. Most often, these two processes are interrelated.

Business reengineering is usually done before implementing an information system to streamline and automate office work.

What is software engineering?

Software engineering is a field of technology and computer science that deals with the construction of software systems so large and complex that it requires the participation of well-coordinated teams of developers of various specialties and qualifications.

Importance of software engineering

Software engineering ensures the emergence of safe, reliable, and high-quality software products that do not lose these properties during the entire period of operation. They are first designed, then written, tested, and maintained during solving user problems.

Software engineering aims to understand the existing problem and define the resources needed to solve it. Sometimes this does not require creating a new program, but applying an existing one or compiling it from several ready-made programs. In the future, most standard tasks will be solved at the stage of the preliminary design of complex systems.

The main components of software engineering:

  • Acquaintance with the essence of the process and the development of its mathematical or physical model (if necessary).
  • Clarification of the goals and objectives for the solution of which program methods should be used, the construction of the program algorithm.
  • Search for ready-made procedures and write the missing blocks for the developed algorithm for solving the problem in one of the programming languages.
  • Run, debug (error elimination), test, and assemble the software product.

In the course of getting acquainted with the problem statement, before starting work on creating software, a software engineer tries to find answers to the following questions:

  • Is it possible to solve the problems of a complex system by using only one program?
  • What specific tasks will be solved by the written or finished programs?
  • How to speed up the solution of problems? For example, using ready-made software systems, writing new software blocks, or combining them.

When it becomes clear whether this will be a new product or the layout of existing procedures with the writing of missing codes, the software engineer raises the following questions:

  • Do software blocks need to be logically connected so that they work in the new product as a whole?
  • What criteria should we use to select the possibilities for further product expansion?
  • How accessible should the program code and comments to it be so that you can understand the work of the created software product?

During software testing, completely different questions arise from the previous ones that need to be answered:

  • Can the created product work in conditions of different computing equipment, initial time settings, operating environments, and software environments?
  • Has the tested product shown its effectiveness in terms of saving computer resources, demonstrated stability in operation, reliability, accuracy of execution, ease of installation, maintenance, and maintenance?
  • Is the created product user-friendly?
  • Can the new product work with incorrect input of initial data and in case of failures in the interaction of objects of a complex system?
  • Can the software product improve protection and security from external influences, whether it contains features or defects not provided by the developer?
  • Does the new product accompany all changes and errors with a message that any user can understand?
  • Is the system log kept correctly? Are all errors recorded to be analyzed and corrected by any invited programmer, not just the software author?
  • Is the most modern programming language used to create a new software product?

Conclusion

In today’s technology, everything has been linked to software development. Software development plays an essential role in software, related to the set of procedures or practices that must be followed in the development field. Here’s the main reason for the importance of software engineering: software engineering applies the principles and methods of computer science, engineering, and calculus to evaluate, design, develop, and test software and systems that enable computers to run their applications.

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