McMaster Centre for Software Certification

Need for Certification

Software is essential to more and more products.  In many industries – medical, automotive, aerospace, nuclear power, military equipment, for example – failure of software to meet its requirements can be disastrous. Society is increasingly demanding that software used in such critical systems must meet minimum safety, security and reliability standards. Manufacturers of these systems are in the unenviable position of not having consistent and effective guidelines as to what constitutes acceptable evidence of software quality, and how to achieve it. This drives up the cost of producing these systems without producing a commensurate improvement in dependability.

Need for Evidence

Critical, software-intensive devices are typically certified on the basis of the process used to develop them. We believe that this is inadequate, that while a good process may be necessary for producing dependable software, it is not sufficient: certification must also be based on evidence obtained from the product. Our research is therefore into what kind of evidence is sufficient, and how different kinds of evidence may be combined into an argument for safety that is sufficient. This research is partly theoretical, but also practical: we work with industries involved in developing critical, software-intensive systems on their practical problems.

The Centre

The Centre for Software Certification was established at McMaster University in 2008.  Its objective is to improve the practice of software engineering applied to critical systems involving software.  To achieve this it

  • performs research on how to produce software that can be certified, and on how existing software may be certified
  • works with industrial partners on the development and certification of software
  • works with regulatory authorities on the relevant standards and approaches to software certification
  • works with universities to improve their software engineering curricula
  • works with the bodies responsible for recognizing professional engineers to improve their requirements
While our emphasis is on software, we recognize that the safety of products that depend on software is a problem in systems engineering: the hardware that contains the software has to be part of the engineering, and part of the certification.
Last Updated on Friday, 28 June 2013 14:19