Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Texas Software Reliability Project

The Texas Institute for Software Reliability

It is difficult to complete complex software products on schedule and within budget.  Having the software product also perform flawlessly is almost beyond imagination.  The performance goal for new software is usually to achieve adequate performance, so it takes time for users to discover the flaws in the software.  It is common in the software industry to ship a product with a known list of bugs.  This leads to a cavalier attitude towards software reliability, which is beginning to wreak havoc in the financial industry.

On August 1, 2012, a glitch in new software at Knight Capital led to $440 million in trading losses, pushing the company to the brink of bankruptcy, and forcing it to sell itself in order to stay open for business.  On March 23, 2012, the new stock exchange operator BATS Global Markets tried to list its own IPO on its new stock exchange, but a software glitch crashed the exchange.  The BATS IPO stock price sunk from $16 per share to 4 cents per share and the IPO was cancelled.  The IPO did not happen during the remainder of 2012 and terms like "epic failure" and "worst IPO nightmare of all time" were used to describe the failure.  Software reliability can have a major impact on economic development.

Software reliability is a huge, multifaceted topic.  Software reliability is intimately related to software quality, software requirements, software design, software testing, and software correctness.  All facets of software development that contribute to reliable software, including accurate design of concurrent and distributed systems, should be of interest to businesses, schools, and professionals working in software in Texas.

The Kestrel Institute in Palo Alto, California is a research center working on provably correct code.  We should have a center in Texas dedicated to issues related to software reliability. A Texas Institute for Software Reliability could be a virtual institution, comprised of researchers at many universities and companies, linked together by a website and servers.

We are in a competitive world.  A Texas Institute for Software Reliability could help us compete.  The Texas Software Reliability Project encompasses all efforts in Texas to promote reliable software.

This post is part of The Texas Software Initiative.


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