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Software quality guru Watts Humphrey dies at 83

Prominent software quality proponent Watts Humphrey died at his Sarasota Fla. home on Thursday. Humphrey, known for founding the Software Process Program at the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and influencing the development of the Software Capability Model (CMM), was 83.

In 2003, Humphrey received the National Medal of Technology for his “vision for software engineering” and its impact on the US government and academic communities.

“Watts Humphrey was one of the icons of software engineering—one of a handful of engineers like Barry Boehm, Fred Brooks, and Vic Basili who have helped define this young field,” said SEI director and CEO Dr. Paul Nielsen.  ”Watts brought engineering to software engineering. His work has had immeasurable impact on the global software community, tirelessly urging the community to emphasize quality, measurement, and performance.”

Humphrey graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and later received a Masters degree in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology and in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Humphrey went on to lead the IBM software team in the late 1960s, and was appointed vice president of technical development. After working with IBM for almost 30 years, he joined SEI, where he helped pioneer the development of the Software Capability Maturity Model, which later combined with other developments to become a framework for engineering best practices used around the globe.

Humphrey was dubbed “Father of Software Quality” for his dedication to addressing obstacles in software development such as performance problems, defects, and cost increases.

“As the pioneering innovator behind several important software development processes, Watts more than met his promise to change the world of software engineering. His contributions go well beyond methodology and the many awards and accolades he received. For decades, his work inspired software engineers and his colleagues and friends worldwide. His warmth, energy, great spirit and dedication will be missed by all of us at Carnegie Mellon,” said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University.

Humphrey has written 12 books and hundreds of technical articles and technical reports. The Watts Humphrey Software Quality Institute in Chennai, India was named in his honor. [From PR Newswire release.]

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