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Robert L. Glass

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Robert L. (Bob) Glass (born 1932) is an American software engineer and writer, known for his works on software engineering, especially on the measuring of the quality of software design[1] and his studies of the state of the art of software engineering research.[2][3]



Glass held his first job in computing in 1954. He worked from 1954 to 1957 in the aerospace industry at North American Aviation, from 1957 to 1965 at Aerojet-General Corp. and from 1965 to 1982 at Boeing Company, where he built software tools used by applications specialists.[4]

Between 1970 and 1972, Glass had worked on a tools-focused research grant at the University of Washington. From 1982 to 1987, he taught in the Software Engineering graduate program at Seattle University, and subsequently spent a year at the Software Engineering Institute.[4] Early 2000s he has been visiting professor at the Linköping University in Sweden and at the Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.[5] The Linkoping University awarded him a honorary PhD in 1995.[6]

He is the emeritus editor-in-chief of the Journal of Systems and Software[7] and also writes regular columns for Communications of the ACM and IEEE Software.[nb 1] In 1995 he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Linkoping University of Sweden,[9] and in 1999 he was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) professional society.[10] Using the pseudonym Miles Benson, Glass in the 1970's regularly wrote disguised stories of failed computing projects for industry publication Computerworld.[11]

After 45 years in the field Glass described himself as "my head is in the academic area of computing, but my heart is in its practice."[nb 2] Writing in IEEE Software in 2000, Glass criticized open-source software, predicting that it will not reach far, and "will be limited to one or a few cults emerging from a niche culture." Glass's basis for this bold prediction was that open-source software "goes against the grain of everything I know about the software field".[12]



Glass authored more than 200 papers[13] and 25 books. A selection:

  • 1977. The universal elixir and other computing projects which failed
  • 1978. Tales of computing folk : hot dogs and mixed nuts
  • 1979. Software reliability guidebook
  • 1979. Power of peonage
  • 1980. The second coming : more computing projects which failed. With "Sue deNim".
  • 1981. Software soliloquies
  • 1981. Software maintenance guidebook
  • 1983. Real-time software (edited by)
  • 1983. Computing catastrophes (compiled by)
  • 1988. Modern programming practices : a report from industry
  • 1988. Software communication skills
  • 1989. Software runaways
  • 1990. Measuring software design quality. With David N. Card.
  • 1991. Software conflict : essays on the art and science of software engineering
  • 1992. Measuring and motivating maintenance programmers. With Jerome B. Landsbaum.
  • 1995. Software creativity
  • 1996. ISO 9000 approach to building quality software. With Östen Oskarsson.
  • 1998. In the Beginning: Recollections of Software Pioneers. Editor. IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos, California.
  • 1999. Computing calamities : lessons learned from products, projects, and companies that failed.
  • 2001. ComputingFailure.com : war stories from the electronic revolution
  • 2003. Facts and fallacies of software engineering
  • 2006. Software Conflict 2.0
  • 2006. Software Creativity 2.0
  • 2011. The Dark Side of Software Engineering: Evil on Computing Projects


  1. ^ Robert Glass wrote the "Loyal Opposition" column in the IEEE Software journal for years. His final column was: Glass, Robert L. "Goodbye!."[8]
  2. ^ Attributed to Glass in Joseph Feller (2005, p. 517)


  1. ^ Briand, Lionel C., Sandro Morasca, and Victor R. Basili. "Property-based software engineering measurement." Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on 22.1 (1996): 68–86.
  2. ^ Vessey, Iris, Venkataraman Ramesh, and Robert L. Glass. "Research in information systems: An empirical study of diversity in the discipline and its journals." Journal of Management Information Systems 19.2 (2002): 129–174.
  3. ^ Bertolino, Antonia. "Software testing research: Achievements, challenges, dreams." Future of Software Engineering, 2007. FOSE'07. IEEE, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "About Robert L. Glass". Personal web site. Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2013. Robert L. Glass (Bob) has meandered the halls of computing for over 50 years now, starting with a three-year gig in the aerospace industry (at North American Aviation) in 1954–1957, which makes him one of the true pioneers of the software field. That stay at North American extended into several other aerospace appearances (at Aerojet-General Corp., 1957–1965) [sic] and the Boeing Company, 1965–1970 and 1972–1982). His role was largely that of building software tools used by applications specialists. I
  5. ^ Robert L. Glass (2006) Software Creativity 2.0. p. v
  6. ^ Robert L. Glass (2003) Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering. p. 190
  7. ^ "Journal of Systems and Software Editorial Board". Journal of Systems and Software. Elsevier B.V. Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  8. ^ IEEE Software 26.6 (2009): 96–96.
  9. ^ Joseph Feller (2005) Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software. p. 516
  10. ^ "Robert L. Glass". Citation for ACM Fellow. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  11. ^ Darroch, Fiona (July 2006). "ACM fellow profile: Bob Glass". SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes. 31 (4): 2–6. doi:10.1145/1142958.1150033. S2CID 26827081.
  12. ^ Glass, R. L. (2000). The Sociology of Open Source: Of Cults and Cultures. IEEE Software, 17(3), 104–105
  13. ^ "Robert L. Glass". The DBLP Computer Science Bibliography. Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics and the University of Trier. Retrieved April 9, 2014.