Keynote Address: Stronger than its weakest link
Prof. Ian Phillips. CEng, FIMA, FIET, SMIEEE
Principal Staff Engineer at ARM Ltd, UK
HIS'15 website tells us "Our lives increasingly depend on the correct functioning of software". But whilst true in itself, software is just one of the links in a system-chain; each needing to be as strong as the others for a satisfactory outcome. History may have branded software as the weakest link, but can that be said today? A system is an entity complete in its context; and judged subjectively by its black-box behaviour. And when faced with its failure it isn't acceptable to claim that "my bit worked"! All technologies we utilise are fallible, as are the processes we use to create them: Hardware, Software, Optics, Acoustics, RF, Mechanics, Test, Reproduction, Maintenance ... Perfection is still reserved for the gods. Technologies must work together in the system, and historic silos do nothing to encourage this. So how good do systems need to be; how close to achieving it are we; and does one size fit all? And perhaps most challengingly, can the disciplines complement one another so the whole is stronger than the weakest links?