Appliances and Software: The Importance of the Buyer's Warranty and the Developer's Liability in Promoting the Use of Systematic Quality Assurance and Formal Methods

Daniel M. Berry

Cheriton School of Computer Science
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON, Canada


A vexing question is why systematic quality assurance and formal methods, despite all their advantages, are not used routinely in software development. Other engineering disciplines use their systematic quality assurance and formal methods in producing routinely reliable products. Perhaps the difference between the other engineerings and software engineers lie in the warranties producers must give for the products and the liabilities suffered by the producers for malfunctioning products. It is argued that software engineers would be more likely to use formal methods more routinely if they or their employers had to guarantee their software and could be sued for damages caused by their malfunctioning software.

As poorly verified and validated as released software is today, the situation promises to get worse, as the pressure to be first to the e-commerce market drives software manufacturers to release software with even less verification and validation than heretofore.