Foundations of Software Engineering

This page is for the version of the course that ran in 2015. Follow this link for next year's course: 15-313 F16.



Successful software projects require more than just technical expertise. Figuring out what the client wants, collaborating in a team, managing complexity, mitigating risks, staying on time and budget, and determining under various constraints when a product is good enough to be shipped are at least equally important topics that often have a significant human component. 15-313 explores these issues broadly covering the fundamentals of modern software engineering.

Quality and feature conflict Assuming a solid technical foundation of 15-214 (Java programming, unit testing, and object-oriented analysis and design with UML, design patterns, and frameworks) we will explore the following topics:

This course has a strong technical focus, and includes assignments with and without programming. Assignments also include written components. Students will get experience with team management and modern software-engineering tools. The course puts students on a fast track toward project management positions.

Assignments (mostly done in groups) include:

Logistics and People

Lectures: Tue/Thu 3:00-4:20 p.m. in GHC 4215
Recitations: Wed 12:30-1:20 p.m. in SH 222 (Section A) and Wed 1:30-2:20 pm in WEH 5310 (Section B)

Staff contact email: staff-15313@lists.andrew.cmu...
Please use piazza for general discussion or questions, including clarifying questions, related to the assignments, course content, etc. Use the email address above to contact course staff about individual issues, such as extension requests or individual grading queries. The address should accept emails from any andrew or cmu email address by default. Do not be concerned if you receive a notification that your message is being held for moderation; the list is moderated rapidly. Please avoid emailing individual instructors about course-related requests, unless you have a particularly sensitive situation that you are only comfortable sharing with particular individuals.

Professor Claire Le Goues
WEH 5117
Office hours: Tu 11 a.m. - noon
Email: clegoues@cs.cmu...
Professor Christian Kästner
WEH 5122
Office hours: Wed 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Email: kaestner@cs.cmu...
Zack Coker
GHC 7709
Office hours: Fri 3:30-5:00pm
Email: zfc@cs.cmu...
Gabriel Ferreira
WEH 4113
Office hours: Tue 4:30-6:00pm
Email: gferreir@cs.cmu...

Both instructors have an open door policy: If either of the instructors' office doors are open and no-one else is meeting with us, we are happy to answer any course-related questions. For appointments, email the instructors.

Course Syllabus and Policies

The course uses piazza for discussion, questions, announcements, slides, and supplementary documents; blackboard for homework submission and grades; and github to coordinate group work.

Waitlist: We believe the waitlist is cleared; if you disagree or are having trouble enrolling, please contact us.

Prerequisites: 15-214 or equivalent (Java programming, unit testing, and object-oriented analysis and design with UML, design patterns, frameworks, and exposure to small projects)

Communication: We make announcements through piazza and use piazza for discussion, including clarifying homework assignments and other interactions. The instructors and TAs hold weekly office hours and are reachable by email; see above for information on how to contact us. Email them for additional appointments. They also have an open-door policy: When our door is open and we are not currently meeting with somebody else, feel free to interrupt us for course-related issues.

Textbook: Ian Sommerville, Software Engineering, 7th or 8th edition. Do not buy the latest (10th) edition. Note that we do not expect that the bookstore will carry the appropriate edition; instead, many copies are available online, such as through (and many other booksellers and textbook reseller) for significantly less than 20USD. The 7th and 8th edition are interchangeable for our purposes. Let us know if you have trouble acquiring a suitable edition.

Grading: Evaluation will be based on the following approximate percentages: 50% assignments, 15% midterm, 20% final, 10% participation, 5% reading quizzes.

Time management: This is a 12-unit course, and it is our intention to manage it so that you spend close to 12 hours a week on the course, on average. In general, 4 hours/week will be spent in class and 8 hours on assignments. Please feel free to give the course staff feedback on how much time the course is taking for you.

Late work policy: Late work will receive feedback but no credit. Due to heavy reliance on teamwork in this course there are no late days. Exceptions to this policy will be made only in extraordinary circumstances, almost always involving a family or medical emergency with your academic advisor or the Dean of Student Affairs requesting the exception on your behalf. Accommodations for travel might be possible if requested at least 3 days in advance.

Teamwork: Teamwork is an essential part of this course. Most assignments are done in teams of 3-5 students. Typically, teams will be assigned by the instructor and stay together for multiple assignments. Guidance on teamwork, reflection, and conflict resolution will be provided throughout the semester. Most assignments have a component that is graded for the entire group and a component that is graded individually. The team policy posted on blackboard applies and describes roles and teams and how to deal with conflicts and imbalances.

Academic honesty and collaboration: The usual policies apply, especially the University Policy on Academic Integrity. Many of the assignments will be done in groups. We expect that group members collaborate with one another, but that groups work independently from one another, not exchanging results with other groups. Within groups, we expect that you are honest about your contribution to the group's work. This implies not taking credit for others' work and not covering for team members that have not contributed to the team. Otherwise, our expectations regarding academic honestly and collaboration for group work are the same as for individual work, substituting elevated to the level of "group."

The course includes both individual assignments and individual components of group assignments. Although your solutions for individual parts will be based on the content produced for the group component (e.g., written reflections on lessons learned), we treat individual component of group assignments as equivalent to individual assignments overall, and expect you to complete such components independently of your groupmates.

The rest of this academic honesty and collaboration content is taken from the policy used in 15-214, which we reuse almost directly (with minor modifications, and attribution).

"You may not copy any part of a solution to a problem that was written by another student, or was developed together with another student, or was copied from another unauthorized source such as the Internet. You may not look at another student's solution, even if you have completed your own, nor may you knowingly give your solution to another student or leave your solution where another student can see it.

Here are some examples of behavior that are inappropriate:

If any of your work contains any statement that was not written by you, you must put it in quotes and cite the source. If you are paraphrasing an idea you read elsewhere, you must acknowledge the source. Using existing material without proper citation is plagiarism, a form of cheating. If there is any question about whether the material is permitted, you must get permission in advance. We will be using automated systems to detect software plagiarism.

It is not considered cheating to clarify vague points in the assignments, lectures, lecture notes; to give help or receive help in using the computer systems, compilers, debuggers, profilers, or other facilities; or to discuss ideas at a very high level, without referring to or producing code.

Any violation of this policy is cheating. The minimum penalty for cheating (including plagiarism) will be a zero grade for the whole assignment. Cheating incidents will also be reported through University channels, with possible additional disciplinary action (see the above-linked University Policy on Academic Integrity).

If you have any question about how this policy applies in a particular situation, ask the instructors or TAs for clarification."

Note that the instructors respect honesty in these (and indeed most!) situations.


The following schedule describes the current planing status and the covered concepts. It is subject to change and will be updated as the semester progresses, especially to help focus on requested topics or support learning.

Date Topic Reading assignments Assignments Due
Sept 1 Intro & Overview (SE as a human activity and business concern; risk)
Sept 2 Rec 1 Git and GitHub
Sept 3 Process (Lightweight introduction into process, scheduling and tracking progress)
Sep 8 Practicum presentations hw 1 Case study reflection
Sep 9 Rec 2 Software Characteristics and Their Evaluation
Sep 10 Practicum presentations Ch. 5 Project management
Sep 15 Measurement (Performance, software and process metrics, statistics) hw 2a Team work, time estimation, and implementation (Planning documents)
Sep 16 Rec 3 Software Metrics and Measurements
Sep 17 Requirements 1/3 Ch. 6 Software requirements (p. 118-131, 136-139)
Ch. 7.2 Requirements engineering process (p. 146-149)
Sep 22 Requirements 2/3 hw 2b Team work, time estimation, and implementation (Code artifacts)
Sep 23 Rec 4 Software Requirements
Sep 24 Requirements 3/3 Ch. 9 Critical systems specification hw 2cd Team work, time estimation, and implementation (Reflection documents: team and individual)
Sep 29 Architecture (Case study, views, quality goals)
Sep 30 Rec 5 Architectural Assessment and Decisions
Oct 1 Architecture (Tactics, pattern, documentation, architecture review) Ch. 11 Architectural design
Oct 6 Architecture (Architecture process, architecture erosion, software product lines) hw 3 Requirements
Oct 7 Rec 6 Architecture II
Oct 8 Quality Assurance - Introduction and Testing Ch. 22 Verification and Validation
Oct 13 QA (Testing) hw 4a Architecture
Oct 14 Rec 7 Midterm review
Oct 15 Midterm
Oct 20 QA (Static Analysis part 1) hw 4bc Architecture
Oct 21 Rec 8 Static Analysis (FindBugs)
Oct 22 QA (Static Analysis part 2) hw 4d Architecture
Oct 27 QA (Inspection and Reviews)
Oct 28 Rec 9 Dynamic Analysis (AspectJ)
Oct 29 QA (Dynamic Analysis + profiling) hw 5a Advanced testing
Nov 3 QA (Process) Ch. 4 Software Processes hw 5b Advanced testing
Nov 4 Rec 10 QA Plan
Nov 5 Process + Teams (From Sequential to Iterative)
Nov 10 Process + Teams (Agile Practices) Ch. 17 Rapid Software Development
Nov 11 Rec 11 Process comparison
Nov 12 Technical Debt hw 6 Static and dynamic analysis (incl. modern code reviews)
Nov 17 Security Development Lifecycle
Nov 18 Rec 12 Agile methods
Nov 19 Process + Teams (Motivation) hw 7a OSE project description
Nov 24 No class (Happy Thanksgiving break!)
Nov 25 Rec 14 No recitation
Nov 26 No class (Thanksgiving)
Dec 1 Process + Teams (Conway's Law, Staffing, Hiring) Ch. 25 Managing People
Dec 2 Rec 13 Conway's Law
Dec 3 Teams + Open Source
Dec 8 OSE Presentations hw 7b OSE report
Dec 9 Rec 15 Advanced version control
Dec 10 OSE Presentations + Wrap up
Dec 14 (1-4pm) Final exam