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Communications of the ACM


The Legacy of Barry Boehm

Bertrand Meyer

This week brought the sad news of Barry Boehm's passing away on August 20. If software engineering deserves at all to be called engineering today, it is in no small part thanks to him. 

"Engineer" is what Boehm was, even though his doctorate and other degrees were all in mathematics. He looked the part (you might almost expect him to carry a slide rule in his shirt pocket, until you realized that as a software engineer he did not need one) and more importantly he exuded the seriousness, dedication, precision, respect for numbers, no-nonsense attitude and practical mindset of outstanding engineers. He was employed as an engineer or engineering manager in the first part of his career, most notably at TRW, a large aerospace company (later purchased by Northrop Grumman), turning to academia (USC) afterwards, but even as a professor he retained that fundamental engineering ethos.