acm - an acm publication

2022 - July

  • Workings of science: How software engineering research became empirical

    Software engineering was recognized as its own type of engineering in the 1960s. At first, the tools and guidelines developed for it were mostly based on common sense, intuition, and personal experience, but not empirical evidence. It took until the late 1990s for researchers in the area to embrace empirical methods. This article is a personal story of how I experienced the maturing of Software Engineering research into an evidence-based science. I will interpret this development using two competing philosophical concepts, rationalism and empiricism, and describe how pragmatism reconciles them.

  • Why is expository writing so undervalued---and what to do about it

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    Expository (non-fiction) writing is the kind of writing most people do in their jobs and elsewhere. Yet the importance of good expository writing is generally underrated, often severely so. This Communication Corner essay explores why undervaluing expository writing is so costly and detrimental, and what might be done about it.