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To Test or Not to Test

A Case Study on Ethics in Computing


Junaid Ahmed Zubairi
Department of Math and Computer Science
SUNY Fredonia


In 1991, faulty computer instructions caused a massive shutdown of phone systems in several major cities in the U.S., including Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The instructions were part of a revised version of software that was not tested fully because the changes were considered too small. Developed as part of the ethics module for a computer science course for non-majors, this case emphasizes good software development techniques, including full compliance with the rules.

  • To teach students good software development techniques.
  • To make students aware that deviations from the rules can lead to disasters, especially in software that impacts on human life
Keywords: Ethics in computing; socially responsible computing; software development; software failure; systems failure
Topical Area: Ethics, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Computer Science  
Date Posted: 07/22/02
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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