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Software Reliability

The National CSR - Structure and History

The Centre for Software Reliability (CSR) is a strictly non-profit making organisation that was established in 1982 by a group of specialists in order to provide a focus for their common interest in the reliability, safety and security of computing systems. Since then CSR has become widely recognised as Europe's leading champions of measurement in the field of software engineering. Indeed CSR has played a leading role in not only raising the profile of software measurement internationally, but also improving significantly its scientific basis. Thus CSR members have made significant advances in:

  • software reliability measurement and prediction
  • the empirical basis for software engineering
  • assessment of safety critical software systems
  • software metrics data collection
  • measurement theory basis for software metrics
  • software testing
  • software cost estimation
  • software fault tolerance
  • software project management
  • software quality assurance and control.

CSR has three main objectives:

  • to promote and participate in research and development
  • to provide and support technology transfer by means of courses, workshops, seminars and literature
  • to develop advisory services to government and industry in the planning, management and review of relevant programmes, projects and standards.

The prime topic of interest to CSR is clearly software reliability: its achievement and assessment. To obtain reliable software, techniques are needed to avoid making design faults, to remove those which are nevertheless introduced, and to tolerate the residual faults which still slip through. To measure and predict the reliability of software requires the definition of metrics, the collection of appropriate data, and the analysis of credible reliability models. Issues such as safety, security, system development, project management, quality assurance and control, metrics, formal verification, are all relevant to software reliability (the term "dependability" is often used when the generality of the concept of reliability is to be emphasised). Effective technology in all these areas is needed to establish a sound engineering basis for the development of software on which users can rely.

CSR members have been involved in numerous UK and EC funded collaborative projects, and CSR has published several books, mostly based on its annual conferences. These include a very successful software reliability handbook.

CSR's visibility is mostly through its Club activities. The Software Reliability and Metrics club arose out of CSR's contribution to the Alvey Directorate, and was later cited by the Alvey Programme reviewers as one of the most signicant successes of the entire programme. More than ten years on, the Club is still running a regular programme of technical meetings and continues to attract attendances of around 60. Largely as a result of this success, in 1991 CSR was awarded a DTI/SERC (U.K. Department of Trade and Industry/Science and engineering research Council) contract to establish a second Club: the Safety Critical Systems club. This rapidly built up to a membership of about 2,000 (by early 1995). Meeting attendance has ranged from 70 to 250.

In 1990 it was felt that CSR should extend its activities across Europe. The first step toward achieving this aim was to agree to hold the annual Conferences outside the UK. Consequently, the subsequent conferences have been held in Germany, Luxembourg, Holland, Ireland, and Belgium respectively. In 1993 CSR enhanced its European activities when it was awarded a major contract from the European Commission to sow the seeds of similar Clubs to its own in other countries. Thus the ENCRESS project European Network of Clubs for REliability and Safety of Software) was born, with meetings in Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Greece. The first annual ENCRESS conference took place in Belgium in 1995.

Link to Clubs home page and calendar of activities.

Membership of CSR (as distinct from the Clubs) is by invitation only. It consists of leading academics, industrialists, and consultants. Two university research centres, one at City, University of London and one at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne provide infrastructure to CSR.

Members of CSR have served on various standards committees, international working parties and conference programme committees, for example: BSI QMS/2/3/1, IST/15, EWICS TC7, IFIP Working Group 10.4 on Dependable Computing and Fault Tolerance, the BCS (British Computer Society) Safety Critical Systems Task Force, the program committess of periodical conferences such as the IEEE International Symposium on Fault-Tolerant Computing (FTCS), later Dependable Systems and Networks Symposium (DSN), the International Conference on Computer Safety, Reliability and Security (SafeComp), the Safety and Reliability Symposium (SaRS). In addition CSR has acted as a source of expertise for the UK government and the European Commission, providing consultative advice on IT policy issues. CSR has participated in the preparation of the Esprit research programmes for software technology and prepared the strategy document for the Software Reliability and Metrics programme for the Alvey Directorate, acting as the advisory group in that area. CSR is consulted, from time to time, by the Department of Trade and Industry on UK IT policy and advises the European Commission via membership of Esprit SIGs and European Workshops. Some consultancy services are also provided direct to industry.

Enquiries may be directed to:

Mrs Joan Atkinson,
Centre for Software Reliability,
Bedson Building,
University of Newcastle upon Tyne,
Tel. +44 191 221 2222
Fax: +44 191 222 7995
e-mail: csr@newcastle.ac.uk