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Scots software engineering pioneer recognised

Professor Ian Sommerville

The work of a St Andrews scientist who wrote the world’s seminal textbook on software engineering over a quarter of a century ago has been recognised by two prestigious awards.

Professor Ian Sommerville, a computer scientist at the University of St Andrews, has been honoured for his work in software engineering education.

The distinguished researcher has received the 2011 SIGSOFT Influential Educator award from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and the 2011 Outstanding Educator award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

The awards recognise Professor Sommerville’s work in developing software engineering education and in helping establish The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance Graduate Academy in Scotland.

Professor Sommerville wrote the first textbook in the embryonic subject of software engineering in 1982 and has revised this several times since then. Now in its 9th edition, it has been translated into more than 10 different languages and remains in use all over the world.

Professor Sommerville has also written three other books on related topics in software engineering.

On hearing the news, Professor Sommerville commented, “I’m absolutely delighted to receive these awards – the first time they have been awarded outside of the USA. It’s great that our innovative work in Scotland where we are sharing resources for postgraduate education has been recognised.

“Software engineering is particularly important now because the world runs on software. Almost everything we now rely on – power, communications, transport are controlled by large and complex software systems. We need software engineering methods to ensure that these systems are reliable, safe and secure.”

He explained, “In the 1980s, when I wrote the first edition of the book, it was obvious that software would grow in importance. However, no-one could have predicted just how much we are now reliant on complex software systems.

“Software engineering has changed tremendously over the past 30 years – new methods and techniques and, of course, systems are much larger and more complex and connected via the Internet.  But some of the fundamentals have remained the same – understanding the customer’s problem and delivering software on time and within budget are key success factors.”

As well as being committed to education, Professor Sommerville has an international reputation for his work in systems and software engineering research. He has published more than 150 research papers and, over his career, has been awarded more than £5 million in external research grants.

Currently, he is working on the problems that companies face when introducing new, complex computer systems and in the new area of cloud computing. Professor Sommerville’s  group in St Andrews is one of the leading research groups in the world in this important area, which will have a major impact on all computer users.

Professor Sommerville is currently Director of SICSA (The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance),  a collaboration involving all Scottish Universities that supports computer science education and research.  The aim of SICSA’s Graduate Academy is to provide courses and opportunities for collaboration for postgraduate students in computer science from all Scottish universities.

Notes for News Editors

Professor Sommerville is available for interview on 01334 463279 / 07540 669259, email ian.sommerville@st-andrews.ac.uk

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