Barry W. Boehm


Barry W. Boehm
Barry W. Boehm
Death date
Associated organizations
University of Southern California
Fields of study
IEEE Simon Ramo Medal


Born in 1935, Barry W. Boehm studied mathematics at Harvard (B.A. in 1957 and M.S. in 1961) and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA in 1964. Dr. Boehm's integration of systems engineering principles with software development has helped enhance the quality, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness of how software and other complex systems are developed. Boehm showed that engineering rigor could be applied to software development and that software engineering was as important as hardware engineering. His models for predicting and evaluating software development projects and processes helped create software engineering economics as its own discipline and enabled developers to improve software productivity and quality. During a U.S. Air Force study in the 1970s, Boehm showed that software was the most critical technology for future strategic, tactical and air defense systems. As a result, the government redirected its research and development program from hardware to software issues. Among the modeling techniques developed by Boehm is the “Constructive Cost Model” (COCOMO) family, which became the standard for software cost and schedule estimation. He also developed the “Spiral Model,” which is a lifecycle process model defining iterative development cycles that incrementally mature a software system through effective risk management. This model serves as the basis for the current generation of flexible, incremental, risk-driven models. Current extensions of his “win-win” and “anchor-point” spiral enhancements were adopted by the United States to guide the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems Program. An IEEE Life Fellow, Dr. Boehm is the founding Director Emeritus of the University of Southern California (USC) Center for Systems and Software Engineering, Los Angeles; director of research of the DoD-Stevens Institute of Technology-USC Systems Engineering Research Center; and the TRW Professor of Software Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.