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Evaluating the effectiveness of Z: The claims made about CICS and where we go from here

Evaluating the effectiveness of Z: The claims made about CICS and where we go from here

Finney, Kate and Fenton, Norman (1996) Evaluating the effectiveness of Z: The claims made about CICS and where we go from here. Journal of Systems Software, 35 (3). pp. 209-216. ISSN 0164-1212 (doi:10.1016/S0164-1212(96)00122-7)

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Abstract

There have been few genuine success stories about industrial use of formal methods. Perhaps the best known and most celebrated is the use of Z by IBM (in collaboration with Oxford University's Programming Research Group) during the development of CICS/ESA (version 3.1). This work was rewarded with the prestigious Queen's Award for Technological Achievement in 1992 and is especially notable for two reasons: 1) because it is a commercial, rather than safety- or security-critical, system and 2) because the claims made about the effectiveness of Z are quantitative as well as qualitative. The most widely publicized claims are: less than half the normal number of customer-reported errors and a 9% savings in the total development costs of the release. This paper provides an independent assessment of the effectiveness of using Z on CICS based on the set of public domain documents. Using this evidence, we believe that the case study was important and valuable, but that the quantitative claims have not been substantiated. The intellectual arguments and rationale for formal methods are attractive, but their widespread commercial use is ultimately dependent upon more convincing quantitative demonstrations of effectiveness. Despite the pioneering efforts of IBM and PRG, there is still a need for rigorous, measurement-based case studies to assess when and how the methods are most effective. We describe how future similar case studies could be improved so that the results are more rigorous and conclusive.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Available online: 15 February 1999. [2] First published in print: December 1996.
Uncontrolled Keywords: cost effectiveness, formal languages, reliability, software engineering, software package Z, computer software
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences
School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences > Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis
School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences > Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis > Fire Safety Engineering Group
School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences > Department of Computer Science
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:00
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/358

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