12th International Conference on Software Quality

Software Division of
The American Society for Quality

Home ] Up ] 13ICSQ Program ] Sponsor & Exhibitor Opportunities ] Special Needs ] Dallas Info ] Hotel/Airline/Rental Car/Driving Directions ] Paper & Tutorial Presenter Information ] Volunteers Opportunities ] ICSQ History.htm ] Contact Us ] About ASQ ]


Tutorial Descriptions
Tuesday Presentations
Wednesday Presentations
Tim Lister
John Musa
Alain Abran
Scott Ambler
Kevin Daily
Alec Dorling
Liz Keim
Tom McCabe
Linda Westfall


Alain Abran - Keynote Speaker

Dr. Alain Abran is a Professor and the Director of the Software Engineering Research Laboratory at the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) – Université du Québec.

He is currently Co-executive editor of the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge project. He is also actively involved in international software engineering standards and is Co-chair of the Common Software Metrics International Consortium (COSMIC).

Dr. Abran has more than 20 years of industry experience in information systems development and software engineering. The maintenance measurement program he developed and implemented at Montreal Trust, Canada, received one of the 1993 Best of the Best awards from the Quality Assurance Institute.  

The Emerging Consensus on the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK)


Articulating a body of knowledge is an essential step toward developing a profession because it represents a broad consensus regarding the contents of the discipline. The IEEE Computer Society, with the support of a consortium of industrial sponsors, has recently published the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) and, throughout this Guide, the engineering of quality into software is pervasive. In addition, ISO is currently in the process of adopting this Guide as an ISO Technical Report. 

This presentation will provide overviews of the development process that was followed, of the current version of this Guide and of its usage throughout the world.

What is Software Engineering?

The IEEE Computer Society defines software engineering as

(1) The application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software; that is, the application of engineering to software.

(2) The study of approaches as in (1).”[1]

What is a Recognized Profession?

In spite of the millions of software professionals worldwide and the ubiquitous presence of software in our society, software engineering has not yet reached the status of a legitimate engineering discipline and a recognized profession.

For software engineering to be known as a legitimate engineering discipline and a recognized profession, consensus on a core body of knowledge is imperative. This is well illustrated by Starr when he defines what can be considered a legitimate discipline and a recognized profession. In his Pulitzer-prize-winning book on the history of the medical profession in the USA, he states that: "the legitimization of professional authority involves three distinctive claims: first, that the knowledge and competence of the professional have been validated by a community of his or her peers; second, that this consensually validated knowledge rests on rational, scientific grounds; and third, that the professional’s judgment and advice are oriented toward a set of substantive values, such as health".


Articulating a Body of Knowledge is an essential step toward developing a profession because it represents a broad consensus regarding what a software engineering professional should know. Without such a consensus, no licensing examination can be validated, no curriculum can prepare an individual for an examination, and no criteria can be formulated for accrediting a curriculum. The development of the consensus is also prerequisite to the adoption of coherent skill development and continuing professional education programs in organizations.

The Body of Knowledge is subdivided into ten Knowledge Areas (KA), including quality, and the descriptions of the KAs are designed to discriminate among the various important concepts, permitting readers to find their way quickly to subjects of interest. Upon finding a subject, readers are referred to key papers or book chapters selected because they succinctly present the knowledge.

Intended Audiences

The Guide is oriented toward a variety of audiences, all over the world. It aims to serve public and private organizations in need of a consistent view of software engineering for defining education and training requirements, classifying jobs, developing performance evaluation policies or specifying development tasks. It also addresses practicing, or managing, software engineers and the officials responsible for making public policy regarding licensing and professional guidelines. In addition, professional societies and educators defining the certification rules, accreditation policies for university curricula, and guidelines for professional practice will benefit from SWEBOK, as well as the students learning the software engineering profession and educators and trainers engaged in defining curricula and course content.

Depth of Treatment

From the outset, the question arose as to the depth of treatment the Guide should provide. We adopted an approach providing a foundation for curriculum development, certification and licensing. We applied a criterion of generally accepted knowledge, which we had to distinguish from advanced and research knowledge (on the grounds of maturity) and from specialized knowledge (on the grounds of generality of application). A second definition of generally accepted comes from the Project Management Institute: “The generally accepted knowledge applies to most projects most of the time, and widespread consensus validates its value and effectiveness”.[2]

However, generally accepted knowledge does not imply that one should apply the designated knowledge uniformly to all software engineering endeavors—each project’s needs determine that—but it does imply that competent, capable software engineers should be equipped with this knowledge for potential application. More precisely, generally accepted knowledge should be included in the study material for a software engineering licensing examination that graduates would take after gaining four years of work experience. Although this criterion is specific to the U.S. style of education and does not necessarily apply to other countries, it was deemed useful.

Additionally, the Knowledge Areas descriptions of software engineering are also forward-looking— considering not only what is generally accepted today but also what could be generally accepted in three to five years.

Close to five hundred software engineering professionals from 41 countries and representing various viewpoints have participated in the project. Professional and learned societies and public agencies involved in software engineering were officially contacted, made aware of this project and invited to participate in the review process. Knowledge Area Specialists or chapter authors were recruited from North America, the Pacific Rim and Europe.

[1]     “IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology,” IEEE, Piscataway, NJ std 610.12-1990, 1990.

[2]     Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Upper Darby, PA, 1996. “Project” in the quote refers to projects in general.


Additional Information about Alain Abran



  • Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (1994) - École Polytechnique de Montréal
  • Master in Management Sciences (1975) - University of Ottawa
  • Master in Electrical Engineering (1974) - University of Ottawa


  • École de Technologie Supérieure (2001-present) - Professor of Software Engineering and Director of the Software Engineering Research Laboratory + Adjunct professor at UQAM
  • Université du Québec à Montréal - UQAM (1993-2001) - Professor of Computer Science
  • Montreal Trust (1986-93) - Manager, Software Process Improvements and Measurements
  • Montreal Trust (1984-86) - Project Manager
  • Crédit Foncier (1979-84) - Project Manager
  • La Prévoyance Assurances (1977-80) - Maintenance Team Leader and Lead Software Development Analyst
  • SORES(SNC) (1976) - Operational Research Analyst
  • Éducation Québec (1975) - Budget and Planning Analyst

Research Topics:

  • Software Engineering Foundations
  • Software Productivity and Estimation Models
  • Software Quality
  • Software Functional Size Measurement
  • Software Risk Management
  • Software Maintenance Management

Sample of Publications:

Miscellaneous Publications

Eds:Dumke, R.; Abran, A. (Hrsg.) , Current Trends in Software Measurement - Proceedings of the 11th IWSM, Montreal, August 2001, Shaker-Verlag, Aachen, 2001.


Eds: Dumke, R.; Abran, A. , New Approaches in Software Measurement, in 10th International Workshop, IWSM 2000, Germany, Springer, 2001, pp. 244.

Exec. Eds: Abran, A.; Moore, J.W.; Eds: Bourque, P.; Dupuis, R.; Chair of IAB: Tripp, L.L. , Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge - Trial Version, IEEE Computer Society, 2001.

Eds: Dumke, R.; Abran, A. , Software Measurement - Current Trends in Research and Practice, Deutscher Universität Verlag, Gabler Vieweg, Westdeutscher Verlag, 1999, pp. 269.

Eds: Lehner, F.; Dumke, R.; Abran, A. , Software Metrics, Research and Practice in Software Measurement, Franz Lehner et al. (eds.), Wiesbaden, Germany, Deutscher Universitäts Verlag, 1997, pp. 232.

Invited Speaker

Abran, A. , Software Size and its Relationship with Project Effort within COSMIC world-wide field trials, in JSR Gumma, Japan, Japan, 2001, pp. 53.

Abran, A. , World-wide Field Trials of COSMIC - the Second Generation of Functional Size Measurement Methods, in SPIN Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2001, pp. 107.

Abran, A.; Dupuis, R.; Bourque, P.; Moore, J.W.; Tripp, L.L. , Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge - Overview and Applications, in Software Engineering Accreditation Committee, Information Processing Society of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, 2001, pp. 59.

Abran, A.; Symons, C.; Desharnais, J.-M.; Fagg, P.; Morris, P.; Oligny, S.; Onvlee, J.; Meli, R.; Nevalainen, R.; Rule, G.; St-Pierre, D. , COSMIC FFP Field Trials Aims, Progress and Interim Findings, in the 11th European Software Control and Metric Conference (ESCOM SCOPE 2000), Munich, Germany, 2000, pp. 31.

Abran, A.; Basque, R. , When an Canadian Industry (Railroad) Wakes up to the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM)®, in Conference on Software Development Management with CMM / SPICE, Beijing, China, 2000, pp. 37.

Abran, A. , Balanced Scorecard in Software, Helsinki, Finlande, Nokia Research Center, 2000, pp. 34.

Other Professional Contributions or Documents

Bourque, P.; Dupuis, R.; Abran, A.; Moore, J.W. , Straightening out the record, in IEEE Software, Vol. 17, no 1, 2000, pp. 9

Bourque, P.; Dupuis, R.; Abran, A.; Moore, J.W. , Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge - A Project Overview, in SAP, Montréal, Frankfort, Palo Alto, 1999, pp. 51

Abran, A. , Member of Lessons and Status Reports Committee, in ICSE'98 The 20th International Conference on Software Engineering, Kyoto, Japan, IEEE Computer Society, 1998.

Schneidewind, N.; Modell, C.; Abran, A.; Barnard, J.; Chiricosta, D.; Jacquet, J.-P.; al., and , IEEE Standard for a Software Quality Metrics Methodology, New York, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., 1998.

April, A.; Abran, A. , Workshop Co-Chairs: Software Product Quality Measurements - Future Directions, in Third International Symposium and Forum on Software Engineering Standards, Walnut Creek, CA, IEEE Computer Society, 1997.

Abran, A. , Co-chair of 6th International Workshop on Software Metrics, Regensburg, Germany, 1996

Abran, A. , Canadian Standards Council - Conseil Canadien des Normes, Software Engineering sub-committee - ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 Working group on Software Product Quality Measurement (WG6) and Working Group on Functional Size Measurement (WG12)., 1989-present.

Other Publications

Dupuis, R.; Bourque, P.; Abran, A.; Moore, J.W.; Tripp, L.L. , Related Disciplines Currently Being Considered by the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge Project, in Forum for Advancing Software engineering Education (FASE), Vol. 9, no 11, 1999.

Fetcke, T.; Abran, A.; Nguyen, T-H. , Mapping the OO-Jacobson Approach into Function Point Analysis, in 6th International Workshop on Software Metrics, F. Lehner, Regensburg, Germany, 1997.

St-Pierre, D.; Maya, M.; Abran, A.; Desharnais, J.-M. , Adapting Function Points to Real-Time Software, in IFPUG 1997 Fall Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona, IFPUG, 1997.

Zitouni, M.; Abran, A. , A Model to Evaluate and Improve the Quality of the Software Maintenance Process, in 6th International Conference on Software Quality Conference, Ottawa, ASQC- Software Division, 1996.