Be more familiar with our enemies and pave the way forward: A review of the roles bugs played in software failures

W. Eric Wong, Xuelin Li, Philip A. Laplante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

There has been an increasing frequency of failures due to defective software that cost millions of dollars. Recent high profile incidents have drawn increased attention to the risks of failed software systems to the public. Yet aside from the Therac-25 case, very few incidents of software failure causing humans harm have been proven and widely reported. With increased government oversight and the expanded use of social networking for real time reporting of problems, we are only beginning to understand the potential for major injury or death related to software failures. However, debugging defective software can be costly and time consuming. Moreover, undetected bugs could induce great harm to the public when software systems are applied in safety-critical areas, such as consumer products, public infrastructure, transportation systems, etc. Therefore, it is vital that we remove these bugs as early as possible. To gain more understanding of the nature of these bugs, we review the reported software failures that have impacted the health, safety, and welfare of the public. A focus on lessons learned and implications for future software systems is also provided which acts as guidelines for engineers to improve the quality of their products and avoid similar failures from happening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-94
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Systems and Software
Volume133
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture

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