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Less than fifty years ago, the discipline of software engineering was proposed to face the multiple challenges of building and maintaining increasingly complex systems. Moving from the individual ...
Less than fifty years ago, the discipline of software engineering was proposed to face the multiple challenges of building and maintaining increasingly complex systems. Moving from the individual creation of small programs to the collective production of complex and evolutionary software systems was rightly identified as a serious problem. But attempts to solve it in a general way have been rather deceiving. The recent tentative of considering most artifacts as models and most operations in the lifecycle as model transformations has not permitted to radically change the way we build, operate and maintain software even if it has allowed a much better understanding of the basic issues. Albeit we did not achieve the ultimate goal of having models everywhere in the software development cycle, the demonstration of the tremendous potential of software modeling has now been firmly established.The subject of engineering has also changed a lot in the lasthalf-century. We realize that computers are now omnipresent and software ubiquitous. We may revisit a lot of beliefs that have been with us in the last decades and start thinking out of the box. We may look for some "unifying theory of engineering" and view software engineering as a specialization of this conceptual framework, with some expected benefits. In other words, we may revisit "software engineering" as a special branch of "engineering software" and show how software model engineering may be broadly used through all the different branches.
To make things concrete, we can consider two broad categories of engineering fields called "support engineering" and "domain engineering". The first category defines a set of technical spaces like service engineering, system engineering, model engineering, constraint engineering, data engineering, process engineering, language engineering, formal methods engineering, and many more. At the opposite of this solution space, we find the problem space with a lot of conventional or emerging domain engineering fields like business, financial, electrical, mechanical, civil, health, telecommunication, avionics, biological and many more. There are many commonalities of domain engineering that would gain to be exposed: starting with the construction of abstract models conforming to some ontology, a second step usually defines some model validation or verification followed by a manufacturing or production step and finally a deployment step intended to augment or transform the real world. The presentation will propose an initial cartography of support and domain engineering, illustrating its possible impact on the organization of research and advanced education. It will also emphasize the important place taken by software model engineering in this possible organization.
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