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Re: FW: [xml-dev] Engineering versus Science, Anecdote versusEvidence ... [Was: Designing an experiment to gather evidence on approachesto designing web services]

Precisely so.  An engineer has to converse with an environment (some  
set of entities in some measure of locale) and create a system that  
does what they need, want or are simply willing to pay for.  This is  
science in that it has to work, it is art in that observation and the  
willingness to make hopefully testable assumptions lead to the best as  
can be chosen choices.

It all sounds esoteric.  In music, we call it throwing things at the  
wall to see what sticks.  The art is knowing what to throw and when.

But again, a high art is knowing how to make the things that are being  
thrown.  Even something as generic as XML utility packages start  
somewhere.  It may be the  need to validate batches, it may be the  
need to get information out of a Word document and up-translate.   
Being able to start from different requirements using the same  
toolkits means the toolkits are brilliant.  Art or engineering, well,  
does that matter?  Anecdotally, maybe.


Quoting "Costello, Roger L." <costello@mitre.org>:

> Excellent feedback from Rick Jelliffe. See below.  /Roger
> From: Rick Jelliffe [mailto:rjelliffe@allette.com.au]
> Sent: Friday, December 30, 2011 9:48 AM
> To: Costello, Roger L.
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Engineering versus Science, Anecdote versus  
> Evidence ... [Was: Designing an experiment to gather evidence on  
> approaches to designing web services]
> I hope not. Scientific method and engineering method are quite  
> different: one asks what the nature of some reality is, the other  
> asks how we can create something with a certain quality.
> The distinction is not not engineering-as-art and  
> engineering-as-science but engineering-using-magic and  
> engineering-using-evidence --where the evidence quality ranges from  
> poor (anecdotal) to excellent (replicated auditable double blind,  
> etc) and the egineering needs to work with all kinds of evidence  
> qualities.
> The old saw is that "every schema represents a theory about the  
> document", and every schema comes from some set of concerns. For  
> example, if you were taking a software engineering quality viewpoint  
> for -re-designing a schema, you would identify and weigh the various  
> quality factors for the schema, and design and test it to address  
> the issues of highest concern.  For example, if software  
> maintainability were the main factor, you would look to see where  
> programmers were making mistakes when they write scripts to handle  
> the documents, and arrange the markup so that the element and  
> attribute names and values made it more explicit to the programmer:  
> this would be a secondary concern to coming up with some  
> academically pure but operationally quite bogus model.
> For example, the "highly generic schema" approach does that: rather  
> than modeling the data, it tries to model the programmer, in a sense.
> Cheers
> Rick
> [1] http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/07/highly-generic-schemas.html
> On Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 6:18 AM, Costello, Roger L.  
> <costello@mitre.org<mailto:costello@mitre.org>> wrote:
>> I'd suggest software design is closer to engineering than science
> But isn't the goal of every engineer to move steadily away from  
> engineering-as-an-art to engineering-as-a science?
> Stated differently, shouldn't we endeavor to approach engineering  
> problems as scientists?
> /Roger
> P.S. Fascinating discussion!
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