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The AdaIC News Winter 1996-1997

In This Edition:

NRC Study Recommends New Software Review Process, Changes in Ada Mandate

Letter from the AJPO: Ada Joint Program Office — The Phoenix

Ada Java Compiler Released

Ada 95 at Work

Academic Ada - Textbook and Special CD-ROM Edition of Ada 95 Compiler Released

Ten Companies Announce New Software Tools Supporting Ada 95

AdaIC Web Pages Redesigned

SRI Issues Final Report, Transitions Activities

Services Building Track Records in Systematic Reuse

Ada & Economics - Data Points Out Long-Term Benefits

How are You Using Ada? And How are You Reusing it?

Ada 95 Tools to be Available on Loan

Ada Calendar


"Top 5%"

"Discovering Ada" - Enhanced CD-ROM Now Available at No Charge to Services, Academia

Trade Group Considering Candidate Bindings for Ada Common Environment

ASEET Symposium Issues Call for Papers

Ada-Europe '97 - International Conference on Reliable Software Technologies

Ada and Reuse News Briefs Combined and Expanded

New and Improved Ada Jobs Page On-Line

NRC Study Recommends New Software Review Process, Changes in Ada Mandate

| Committee Conclusions | Rationale |
| Other Conclusions | Further Information |

On November 1, 1996, the National Research Council (NRC) at the National Academy of Science (NAS) released its report Ada and Beyond: Software Policies for the Department of Defense. The report was the work of the NRC’s “Committee on the Past and Present Contexts for the Use of Ada in the Department of Defense”, created by the NRC’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board to review current language policy in the Department of Defense (DoD), and to examine the role of Ada in DoD software development. The study was requested by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD C3I). Ø

Committee conclusions

The committee concluded that “vigorous support of Ada would benefit warfighting systems, and recommends that the Department of Defense should continue to use and promote Ada in such systems.” However, the committee found “significant problems with the two primary components of the Defense Department’s current strategy for Ada. First, the current programming language policy requires the use of Ada for all new defense software, which the committee finds to be overly broad in scope. Second, the Defense Department’s plan to discontinue investments in both Ada technology and user-community support will weaken the Ada infrastructure, and will work against any requirement to use Ada in the future.”

The committee recommended that DoD take the following steps regarding Ada:

  1. “Continue to require Ada for its warfighting software and drop the Ada requirement for its other software.”

  2. “Provide roughly $15 million per year for Ada infrastructure support, or drop the requirement to use Ada entirely.”

  3. “Make programming language decisions in the context of a Software Engineering Plan Review process.”


The committee’s rationale for these recommendations was:

  1. “In commercially dominated areas, using Ada is generally less cost-effective than using other languages. Requiring Ada’s use in commercially dominated applications would place DOD systems at a competitive disadvantage.

  2. “In warfighting applications, Ada’s technical capabilities for building real-time, high-assurance custom software are generally superior to those of other programming languages. DOD’s investments in Ada to date have provided DOD systems with a competitive advantage in these areas.”

  3. “The commercial marketplace alone will not sustain a robust Ada infrastructure.”

  4. “A relatively modest ($15 million per year) DOD investment at the margin would be sufficient to sustain a robust Ada infrastructure for warfighting applications.”

  5. “DOD’s inventory of more than 50 million lines of Ada warfighting software will become a liability without a robust Ada infrastructure.” ,p>
  6. “DOD’s current Ada waiver process can be effectively replaced by adoption of the commercially established practice of architecture review boards, a process that can also strengthen DOD’s overall software engineering capability.”

Other conclusions

The committee also concluded that “currently available data are insufficient, on their own, to accurately determine the impact of programming language choice on the outcome of defense programs.” Based on “the limitations of available data”, the committee also recommended that DoD “institute a corporate effort to collect software metrics to guide future policy and management decisions”.

Among the environmental factors cited by the committee for changing Ada policies were the shift from custom-made to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, and the increased reliance on product-line architectures that enable software assets to be reused across families of applications. The committee concluded that in “warfighting applications areas such as weapon control and electronic warfare, there is little commercial development, and the Defense Department has established a strong community of warfighting software developers whose production factors are oriented to Ada. However, for the numerous defense applications in which the market is dominated by commercial solutions, such as finance and logistics, production factors have been built around programming languages other than Ada, putting solutions at a disadvantage.” Ø

For further information

The release summarizing the report and the slides used in the public presentation can be found on the Ada Information Clearinghouse’s World Wide Web site at http://archive.adaic.com/docs/present/nrc/ Information on obtaining the full report will be available on the NRC’s Web site at http://www2.nas.edu/cstbweb. Ø

For further information, contact:

CSTB, National Research Council
210 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20418
Tel: 202/334-2605, Fax: 202/334-2318
E-mail: ctsb@nas.edu


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