Introduction to Software Engineering/Methodology

Software development methodology is used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing an information system. What are different approaches? and what are the basic principles of each approach?

3. Subtopics

Programming paradigm

A programming paradigm is a fundamental style of computer programming, in contrast to a software engineering methodology, which is a style of solving specific software engineering problems. Paradigms differ in the concepts and abstractions used to represent the elements of a program (such as objects, functions, variables, constraints...) and the steps that compose a computation (assignation, evaluation, continuations, data flows...).

A programming language can support multiple paradigms. For example programs written in C++ or Object Pascal can be purely procedural, or purely object-oriented, or contain elements of both paradigms. Software designers and programmers decide how to use those paradigm elements. In object-oriented programming, programmers can think of a program as a collection of interacting objects, while in functional programming a program can be thought of as a sequence of stateless function evaluations. When programming computers or systems with many processors, process-oriented programming allows programmers to think about applications as sets of concurrent processes acting upon logically shared data structures.

Just as different groups in software engineering advocate different methodologies, different programming languages advocate different programming paradigms. Some languages are designed to support one paradigm (Smalltalk supports object-oriented programming, Haskell supports functional programming), while other programming languages support multiple paradigms (such as Object Pascal, C++, C#, Visual Basic, Common Lisp, Scheme, Python, Ruby, and Oz).

Many programming paradigms are as well known for what methods they forbid as for what they enable. For instance, pure functional programming forbids using side-effects; structured programming forbids using goto statements. Partly for this reason, new paradigms are often regarded as doctrinaire or overly rigid by those accustomed to earlier styles. Avoiding certain methods can make it easier to prove theorems about a program's correctness, or simply to understand its behavior.