Scaling up problem solving: addressing complex, ill-structured problems in systems and software engineering

Topic Description

Much software development today takes place in the context of complex socio-technical systems. Engineering solutions then requires addressing complex, ill-structured real-world problems.
Problem Oriented Engineering (Hall and Rapanotti, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013) is a growing body of theories, techniques and practices aimed to address such problems. With its roots in engineering, it encourages the adoption of design problem solving processes which are systematic and highly structured. The approach puts equal emphasis on structuring, representing and validating aspects of both problem and solution.
Projects related to this topic will consider the application, extension and validation of such a body of knowledge in the context of real-world case studies. Of particular interest are studies involving organisational change, multi-stakeholder problem tangles, and the tailoring and adaptation of software development processes.

Skills Required:

Ideally you should have a background in Computing/Software Engineering/Information Systems, possibly with a Masters level qualification or equivalent professional experience. Previous experience of academic research would be advantageous, as well as access to problems of the nature described under this topic.

Background Reading:

Jonassen, D. H. (2000). Toward a design theory of problem solving. Educational technology research and development, 48(4), 63-85.

Smith, G. F., & Browne, G. J. (1993). Conceptual foundations of design problem solving. Systems, Man and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on, 23(5), 1209-1219.

Simon, H.A. (1996). The sciences of the artificial. MIT Press; 3rd Edition.

Hall, J.G, & Rapanotti, L. (2016). A design theory for software engineering. Technical Report TR2016/01, Department of Computing and Communications, The Open University, UK.

Hall, J.G, & Rapanotti, L. (2015). Towards a Design-Theoretic Characterisation of Software Development Process Models. In Proceedings of the 4th SEMAT Workshop on a General Theory of Software Engineering, Florence, Italy. IEEE Press. Hosted by the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2015).

Hall, J.G, & Rapanotti, L. (2013). Beauty in software engineering. IEEE Computer, 46(2):85–87.

Hall, J.G, & Rapanotti, L. (2012). Software engineering as the design theoretic transformation of software problems. Innovations in Systems and Software Engineering, 8(3):175–193.

Hall, J. G., & Rapanotti, L. (2009). Assurance-driven design in problem oriented engineering. International Journal on Advances in Systems and Measurements, 2(1), 26-31.

Hall, J. G., & Rapanotti, L. (2008). The discipline of natural design. In Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July.

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Lucia Rapanotti


Jon Hall