Barry Boehm, a “Living Legend” in Devices and Application Engineering, Dies at 87 – USC Viterbi

Professor Barry Boehm defined an era in computer software engineering through his seminal get the job done in software program price tag estimation and lifecycle modeling. Image/John Vidar.

Barry Boehm, a pioneer in the fields of pc science and software engineering, died Aug. 20 in Santa Monica. He was 87.

Boehm, who served as a USC distinguished professor of personal computer science, industrial and units engineering and astronautics right up until his retirement in May well 2022, defined an period in software package engineering by his seminal work in computer software expense estimation and lifecycle modeling.

Born in 1935, Boehm earned his bachelor’s and master’s levels from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA. Pursuing numerous influential roles spanning market, authorities companies, and non-gains, like positions with the RAND Company, TRW Inc. and DARPA, Boehm joined USC’s college in 1992.

“Barry’s contributions simply cannot be calculated only by the impression of his thoughts on software package engineering,” reported USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “Much more than that, he impacted the life of his students and colleagues alike. We have been lucky to operate in the existence of a true giant and to get in touch with him our friend.”

Pioneering contributions

Boehm’s occupation is total of contributions to the software program and methods engineering disciplines, with his later on function “centered on transitioning application advancement from a pure artwork into an engineering self-discipline,” according to a 2014 paper titled On the Shoulders of Giants: A Tribute to Professor Barry Boehm.

One particular of his groundbreaking contributions was the invention of a application value estimation design that reworked the self-control. In his 1981 book, Computer software Engineering Economics, Boehm described the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO).

Boehm’s former university student, Neil Siegel, now a USC IBM Professor of Engineering Administration and professor of industrial and systems engineering and personal computer science apply, recalls a story Boehm shared about COCOMO’s development.

“The industry of pc science was forever adjusted for the fantastic by his function.” Neil Siegel.

“After obtaining bids from key satellite techniques in the mid-1970s, the vice-president of TRW Inc. requested Boehm for a credible way to estimate the price tag of acquiring a computer software products. And so, he did!” mentioned Siegel.

The outcome was the initial dependable product that authorized software engineers and undertaking administrators to gain command of jobs that were being more and more guiding schedule, over finances, and reduced top quality, conserving organizations and government companies untold billions of pounds. Extensions to this design remained the gold common in each investigation and industry for various decades.

“Boehm’s creations have had a wide impact on the strategies of software package enhancement, are made use of actually all over the planet, and have fundamentally changed the route utilized by millions of program improvement practitioners,” claimed Siegel. “The area of laptop or computer science was for good improved for the fantastic by his get the job done.”

Revolutionizing software program engineering

In addition to this historic contribution, Boehm revolutionized the computer software engineering landscape by means of the advancement of the spiral software package lifecycle model. This strategy recognized that big, highly-priced, and sophisticated tasks call for an iterative enhancement process with gradual releases and refinement of a solution via each and every phase.

The seminal paper made a huge effects on Neno Medvidovic, chair of the USC Viterbi Office of Laptop Science, who was a youthful researcher at the time of its publication.

“To me individually, Barry was an inspiration, and one particular of the initially technical posts I study as a college university student was his 1988 paper describing the spiral design of software advancement,” stated Medvidovic

Professor Boehm works with CSSE PhD student Vu Nquyen '10, while Thomas Tan CSSE '11 and LiGuo Huang CSSE '06 watch on. (Photo/Jon Vidar)

Professor Boehm performs with CSSE PhD university student Vu Nquyen ’10, whilst Thomas Tan CSSE ’11 and LiGuo Huang CSSE ’06 check out on. (Photo/Jon Vidar)

“That paper was a massive rationale at the rear of my job preference. Barry, of class, did not know this, so when he experimented with to recruit me to USC in 1998, I could scarcely think it. I actually felt like I was strolling on clouds.”

To date, the spiral design paper has gained almost 8,000 academic citations, and his six principles for properly making use of the spiral product have been utilized for a long time since.

“His doorway was generally vast open”

Boehm authored far more than 900 publications, which includes practically 200 journal posts, 6 textbooks, and hundreds of meeting papers in addition to displays, keynotes, and webinars. His publications have over 70,000 citations stated in Google Scholar, and Springer analysis lists him as the 2nd most cited software engineer in the environment.

But further than his prolific publishing, in depth know-how and cerebral prowess, Boehm was known as an affable, energetic and respectful colleague, mentor and pal.

With his passing, our division misplaced 1 of its most well known associates, and the field of computing missing a big.” Shang-Hua Teng.

“When he was in his business office, his door was always large open up, and I am glad that I took the possibility to wander in and discuss to him each individual time I passed by,” said his colleague Shang-Hua Teng, a College Professor and Seeley G. Mudd Professor of Personal computer Science and Mathematics. “From these interactions with Barry, I discovered a good deal about his insights on computing and his knowledge about everyday living.”

In celebration of his achievements in the subject, in 2007, the International Convention on Program Engineering (ICSE) held an function entitled “Application Engineering: The Legacy of Barry W. Boehm,” which included shows summarizing his contributions and their effect on the research and apply of software program engineering.

Organizers noted that, “Not quite a few people…have regularly built significant contributions around a 40-12 months time interval and gained regard throughout academia, marketplace, and govt audiences.”

Teng agrees with this sentiment, adding, “[Boehm’s] perform in applying mathematical economics theories to software program engineering led to a principled framework that has had a wide and profound affect on computing. With his passing, our section shed one of its most outstanding members, and the discipline of computing shed a big.”

An enduring legacy

Among his many accolades and achievements, Boehm been given the SERC Founders Award in 2018 and the INCOSE Pioneer Award in 2019 “for his do the job as a techniques pioneer uniquely contributing to the development of systems engineering by way of in depth investigation, instruction and the software thereof in industry.”

He was a fellow of the Global Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Affiliation of Computing Machinery (ACM), and the IEEE, and was elected as a member of the Countrywide Academy of Engineering in 1996.

In addition to his research, Boehm was equally focused to his pupils. In accordance to Jo Ann Lane et. al, extra than thirty doctoral students at USC have set up their own mental pursuits by building on Boehm’s investigation. He transferred to emeritus position in May possibly 2022 to invest much more time with his beloved wife, Sharla, acquiring served as a professor at USC for 3 a long time.

“The expression ‘living legend’ is overused, but I had the fortune of performing up coming to a actual one for just about 25 a long time,” claimed Medvidovic. “Barry defined an period in software package engineering, and I experience fortunate to have recognised him.”

Posted on September 1st, 2022

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