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Creative Software Development: An Empirical Modelling Framework

Abstract

The commercial success of software development depends on innovation [Nar93a]. However, conventional approaches inhibit the development of innovative products that embody novel concepts. This thesis argues that this limitation of conventional software development is largely due to its use of analytical artefacts, and that other activities, notably Empirical Modelling and product design, avoid the same limitation by using creative artefacts. Analytical artefacts promote the methodological representation of familiar subjets whereas creative artefacts promote the exploratory representation of familiar subjects whereas creative artefacts promote the exploratory representation of novel subjects. The subjects, constraints, environments and knowledge associated with a design activity are determined by the nature of its artefacts.

The importance of artefacts was discovered by examining the representation of different kinds of lift system in respect of Empirical Modelling, product design and software development. The artefacts were examined by identifying creative properties, as characterised in the theory of creative cognition [FWS92], together with their analytical counterparts. The processes of construction were examined by identifying generative and exploratory actions. It was found that, in software development, the artefacts were analytical and the processes transformational, whereas, in Empirical Modelling and product design, the artefacts were both creative and analytical, and the process exploratory

A creative approach to software development using both creative and analytical artefacts is proposed for the development of innovative products. This new approach would require a radical departure from the established ideas and principles of software development. The existing paradigm would be replaced by a framework based on Empirical Modelling. Empirical Modelling can be thought of as a situated approach to modelling that uses the computer in exploratory ways to construct artefacts. The likelihood of the new paradigm being adopted is assessed by considering how it addresses the topical issues in software development.