Software initiatives


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 February 2000




Rudall, B.H. (2000), "Software initiatives", Kybernetes, Vol. 29 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Software initiatives

Software initiatives

Keywords: Automation, Cybernetics, Research

1. Software and systems

We are now told that software and systems should evolve together. Since the first days of computing development, programming has taken a second place to the systems hardware that is being designed. When software was being developed to meet the even increasing demands of system users it still never quite got the importance in the eyes of the system designer that it should have had. Everyone involved in computing research realized that software and hardware should be developed together. Many projects consequently evolved to co-ordinate a comprehensive system design strategy. It was encouraging, therefore, to note that in the UK some 30 or more academics and industrial representatives attended a meeting at the Institute of Materials to discuss new ways of stimulating high quality software engineering research.

The subsequent meetings looked at the problems of such research, and future meetings are being arranged to discuss the next stages of an agenda to encourage this research. So far the priorities that have been highlighted include a number of potential research areas. These included many that readers may regard as somewhat speculative and indeed perhaps as high risk endeavours. They include: self-repairing systems; self integrating components; biological models of software evolution; new testing techniques; and artificial intelligence approaches to such areas as genetic programming, adaptive systems and planning.

A report of the first government-sponsored meeting also expressed interest in developing architectures that:

.... allow the robust and rapid change of software artefacts; modelling and describing product families, so that change can be easily specified; and effective "two-way" streets for technology transfer, for example, through innovative virtual software engineering laboratories that integrate academic and industrial sites to provide real world case studies.

Reports of these discussions and the response to the meetings have been made available on

2. Software guide to energy and environment

As part of its series "Energy Data" the non-profit making organisation FIZ Karlsruhe has published and updated an enhanced edition of its Energy and Environment. This is a bilingual guide published in English and German.

The software guide is designed to ease the search for computer programs and expert systems in the fields of energy and environment. More than 300 computer programs and computer models, comprising scientific computer programs as well as commercially available software, are listed and described in detail. The programs are tools supporting design, optimization, and selection of facilities, components, systems and processes applied for exploration and extraction, energy supply, energy conversion, energy application, energy economics, and environmental protection. Basically, the programs are designed to be an instrument improving effectiveness, for assessing environmental effects of energy systems, and for reducing environmental pollution. Furthermore, the programs facilitate analyses of the current situation of energy systems and enable users to simulate alternative concepts and strategies.

The program descriptions are based on information provided by producers and/or suppliers, as well as on information drawn from the database offering by the online service STN International, and from the Internet. The software guide contains several indices with keywords or other descriptive terms referring you to the relevant programs shown in the alphabetic software directory. Also included is an alphabetic list of addresses of software producers and supplier services.

A worldwide scientific service institution, FIZ Karlsruhe produces, provides and markets scientific and technical information services in printed and electronic form. In cooperation with national and international institutions, FIZ Karlsruhe produces databases in the areas of astronomy, astrophysics and physics, energy, nuclear research and technology, aeronautics and astronautics, mathematics, and computer science. In addition, FIZ Karlsruhe operates the European Service Center of STN International, The Scientific & Technical Information Network. STN International is one of the world's premier online services offering access to bibliographic, factual and full-text databases in science and technology (presently more than 200), among them a comprehensive cluster of the world's largest and most important patent databases.

For further information contact: FIZ Karlsruhe, PO Box 2465, 76012 Karlsruhe, Germany. Tel: +49 (0) 7247/808-335; Fax: +49 (0) 7247/808-135; E-mail:

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