CSCI 5828

Foundations of Software Engineering

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   1B 28

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   Tuesday and Thursday
   11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

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   January, 1999
   February, 1999
   March, 1999

Fred Brooks Paper Assignment

The Assignment

In class, we are nearing the conclusion of our review of The Mythical Man-Month by Fred Brooks. The main issues discussed included poor estimating techniques, conceptual integrity, and team organization. Your assignment is to increase your understanding of these issues by writing an in-depth paper (at least eight double-spaced pages in length) on one of these topics.

Your paper should make use of quotes from The Mythical Man-Month to identify how Brooks develops the ideas in his book. You should also cite from at least two other papers on the topic area to support points made by Brooks or, even better, those that contrast with his ideas. (So for instance, a paper that proposes an alternative programming team organization would be an excellent outside reference for the third topic area.) Finally, you should analyze the points made by Brooks and your outside papers. Who do you agree with? Are they missing an issue? Do you have a story from your own work experience that is related?

Thus, to summarize, I will be looking for the achievement of three tasks in this paper:

  1. Summarize the issues and points made by Brooks on the topic.
  2. Compare and contrasts his points with related work from at least two other sources.
  3. Analyze the issues from your own perspective

Organizational Concerns

The paper should have a cover sheet with your paper's title, your name, the course number, the assignment name (Fred Brooks Paper), your student id, etc. (See Lecture 1 for the official requirements). The cover sheet is not included in the eight page count. Do not include a Table of Contents. Your paper should start with an Introduction section and end with a Conclusion section. Your References section should come immediately after the Conclusions (do not place it on a separate page). This format is similar to the format used by technical conferences when publishing their proceedings. The remainder of the paper should be broken into sections that are appropriate for the subject at hand and that fit your presentation goals. Your paper should use a 10pt Times as the font. Section headings should be in 12pt Times Bold.

Quotations (of more than one or two lines) should be single-spaced and indented on both margins to make them stand out from the rest of the paper. You need to have a citation with every quotation. Citations are also needed when you are referencing the ideas from another paper. You must make sure to distinguish when something is your own idea from something that is gained from an outside source. If you attempt to pass a quotation or idea off as your own writing or ideas (e.g. plagiarism), you will get an F on the paper.

Finally, I will lower your grade for a poorly formatted or poorly proof-read document. In fact, a bad document in this regard will be enough to reduce your grade by one step (e.g. An otherwise A paper will be awarded a B for poor formatting and poor proof-reading.) For students, where english is a second language, if you are concerned about your writing, please schedule a meeting with me before the assignment is due and I can help you proof-read your document. Better still is to get one of your friends, who is not taking this class, to read it and offer comments. Often, it only takes one or two people to proof-read a paper to catch almost all of the (formatting-related) mistakes made during the writing of the initial revision.

Relative Worth of the Assignment

This paper is worth 20% of your overall class grade.

Submitting the Assignment

You can submit the paper in hard copy or electronically. For electronic versions, please send only a postscript file or a PDF file. All other formats will be returned unread. If you submit the paper via hard-copy, please hand it to me in person at Lecture 11 (February 16th). Electronic assignments must be mailed to me *before* class for Lecture 11. For CATECS students, your due date is delayed by one week. You must mail me your electronic or hard copy version of the paper before class on February 23rd.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I will try to post answers to all questions on the newsgroup and on the website.

© Ken Anderson, 1999.
Last Updated: 8/16/00; 2:45:53 PM