Independent software verification and validation

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ISVV stands for Independent Software Verification and Validation. ISVV is targeted at safety-critical software systems and aims to increase the quality of software products, thereby reducing risks and costs through the operational life of the software. ISVV provides assurance that software performs to the specified level of confidence and within its designed parameters and defined requirements.

ISVV activities are performed by independent engineering teams, not involved in the software development process, to assess the processes and the resulting products. The ISVV team independency is performed at three different levels: financial, managerial and technical.

ISVV goes far beyond “traditional” verification and validation techniques, applied by development teams. While the latter aim to ensure that the software performs well against the nominal requirements, ISVV is focused on non-functional requirements such as robustness and reliability, and on conditions that can lead the software to fail. ISVV results and findings are fed back to the development teams for correction and improvement.

ISVV History[edit]

ISVV derives from the application of IV&V (Independent Verification and Validation) to the software. Early ISVV application (as known today) dates back to the early 1970s when the U.S. Army sponsored the first significant program related to IV&V for the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile System.

By the end of the 1970s IV&V was rapidly becoming popular. The constant increase in complexity, size and importance of the software lead to an increasing demand on IV&V applied to software (ISVV).

Meanwhile IV&V (and ISVV for software systems) gets consolidated and is now widely used by organisations such as the DoD, FAA, NASA[1] and ESA.[2] IV&V is mentioned in [DO-178B], [ISO/IEC 12207] and formalised in [IEEE 1012].

Initially in 2004-2005, a European consortium led by the European Space Agency, and composed by DNV(N),[3] Critical Software SA(P),[4] Terma(DK)[5] and CODA Scisys(UK)[6] created the first version of a guide devoted to ISVV, called "ESA Guide for Independent Verification and Validation" with support from other organizations, e.g. SoftWcare SL (E) ([7]), etc.

In 2008 the European Space Agency released a second version, being SoftWcare SL was the supporting editor having received inputs from many different European Space ISVV stakeholders. This guide covers the methodologies applicable to all the software engineering phases in what concerns ISVV.

ISVV Methodology[edit]

ISVV is usually composed by five principal phases, these phases can be executed sequentially or as results of a tailoring process.

ISVV Planning

  • Planning of ISVV Activities
  • System Criticality Analysis: Identification of Critical Components through a set of RAMS activities (Value for Money)
  • Selection of the appropriate Methods and Tools

Requirements Verification

  • Verification for: Completeness, Correctness, Testability

Design Verification

  • Design adequacy and conformance to Software Requirements and Interfaces
  • Internal and External Consistency
  • Verification of Feasibility and Maintenance

Code Verification

  • Verification for: Completeness, Correctness, Consistency
  • Code Metrics Analysis
  • Coding Standards Compliance Verification

Validation

  • Identification of unstable components/functionalities
  • Validation focused on Error-Handling: complementary (not concurrent!) validation regarding the one performed by the Development team (More for the Money, More for the Time)
  • Compliance with Software and System Requirements
  • Black box testing and White box testing techniques
  • Experience based techniques

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