Talk About Quality

Tom Harris

The Tip of the Iceberg

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We all like to think that functional requirements are the main thing, and successfully designing and coding to them is enough. Who wants to worry about all the surprises from users, data, and even hardware?

But as Professor Behrooz Parhami shows, in a short (2-page!) article, Defect, Fault, Error,…, or Failure? (pdf), the “Ideal” state that we focus on is just one of 7 common possibilities. The other 6, descending into unpleasantness, are Defective, Faulty, Erroneous, Malfunctioning, Degraded, and Failed.

Our job is really twofold:

  1. Meet the functional requirements of the ideal state
  2. Keep the system in that ideal state, and avoid failure

Does failure avoidance have to take 86% (6/7) of the code? I don’t know. But it certainly sounds like the bottom half of an iceberg–a lot more than half is underwater.

Written by Tom Harris

May 10, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Exception handling

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