Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Neal S. Coulter

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Winton

Third Advisor

Dr. Yap S. Chua


This study provides some insight into the field of software engineering through analysis of its recent research publications. Data for this study are taken from the ACM's Guide to Computing Literature (GUIDE) They include both the professionally assigned Computing Classification System (CCS) descriptors and the title text of each software engineering publication reviewed by the GUIDE from 1998 through 2001.

The first part of this study provides a snapshot of software engineering by applying co-word analysis techniques to the data. This snapshot indicates recent themes or areas of interest, which, when compared with the results from earlier studies, reveal current trends in software engineering.

Software engineering continues to have no central focus. Concepts like software development, process improvement, applications, parallelism, and user interfaces are persistent and, thus, help define the field, but they provide little guidance for researchers or developers of academic curricula.

Of more interest and use are the specific themes illuminated by this study, which provide a clearer indication of the current interests of the field. Two prominent themes are the related issues of programming-in-the-large and best practices.

Programming-in-the-large is the term often applied to large-scale and long-term software development, where project and people management, code reusability, performance measures, documentation, and software maintenance issues take on special importance. These issues began emerging in earlier periods, but seem to have risen to prominence during the current period.

Another important discovery is the trend in software development toward using networking and the Internet. Many network- and Internet-related descriptors were added to the CCS in 1998. The prominent appearance and immediate use of these descriptors during this period indicate that this is a real trend and not just an aberration caused by their recent addition.

The titles of the period reflect the prominent themes and trends. In addition to corroborating the keyword analysis, the title text confirms the relevance of the CCS and its most recent revision.

By revealing current themes and trends in software engineering, this study provides some guidance to the developers of academic curricula and indicates directions for further research and study.