Benson Huang’s Expanded Definition of Software

TO: Prof. Jason Ellis
FROM: Benson Huang
DATE: March 26, 2021
SUBJECT: Expanded Definition of Software


The word chosen for this expanded definition is software. To make the expanded definition for this a few definitions from dictionaries and the uses of the word in context will be observed. After looking through these while comparing and contrasting them an expanded definition will be made off of them.


“Programs designed to enable a computer to perform a particular task or series of tasks” (Oxford University Press, 2000). In this definition, software is defined as a program tailored to perform tasks. Everything you do on a computer is software from the operating system to notepad. Software works with hardware to allow users to do what they want.

“Coded instructions in the form of programs that perform certain tasks using a computer’s hardware. Software includes a computer’s operating system and all its applications (colloquially, apps). These are written in source code (a programming language such as Java or C++) and are then converted by a compiler program into binary code.” (Oxford University Press, 2020). This definition is essentially the same as the last just in more detail. It also includes how it is written and explains how it is converted to binary which is how a computer reads the typed code.

“A person or company that produces software. The term is particularly used to describe approved producers of commercial applications software extending the use of existing software (e.g., ‘a Windows developer’)” (Oxford University Press, 2008). This definition is defining not software but software developer. This makes it different from the other two as a software developer is someone that makes the software. As someone who makes the program, they are the ones who make sure that the software they make sure it does what it is supposed to and keeps it free of bugs or unintended features.


“The software system reliability requirement deals with features that can be translated as events occurring overtime, such as the average time between failures (e.g., no more than once in 500 hours), average time for recovery after system failure (e.g., no more than 15minutes), or average down time per month (e.g., no more than 30 minutes per month)” (Galin, 2018, p.274). In this context, we learn that software should be reliable. Even if we take out the word software it is still understandable. A reliable system is a system you would want. The word software is also used with another noun to describe what it is.

“FaSTR DNA from STRmix is an expert forensic software that rapidly analyzes DNA profiles and assigns a Number of Contributors (NoC) estimate” (DNA software, 2020). In this quote, we can conclude that FaSTR DNA is a forensic program that analyzes DNA. Compared to the last quote this we know that the software in this quote is more focused on doing a certain task, analyzing DNA instead of a system that would likely have more functions and users. Also, software is being used with forensic to give software a more scientific meaning.

The word software is also used in a tweet by VALORANT “We’re aware that a recent update is clashing with some antivirus software and keeping you out of the game. A fix is on the way” (Valorant, 2021). Valorant is a tactical first-person shooter, and they are very serious with their anticheat. In this tweet they speak of an antivirus software which is a program that keeps malware away from your device. Here they had issues where an update to their game had conflicts with some antivirus programs that did not allow players to play.

Working Definition

After all these definitions and uses in context we can conclude that the word software can be used in many different industries. As a Computer Systems major, I can define software as a program that can be tailored by a developer to perform either a specific task or multiple tasks. Everything that runs on the computer is software.


Oxford University Press. (2000). software. In Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from
Oxford University Press. (2020). software. A Dictionary of Media and Communication (3 ed.). Retrieved March 14, 2021, from
Oxford University Press. (2008). software. A Dictionary of Computing (6 ed.). Retrieved March 14, 2021, from
Galin, D. (2018). Software Quality: Concepts and Practice (1st ed.). Wiley. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from
DNA software. (2020, December). Law Enforcement Product News, 31(8), 20. Retrieved March 16, 2021 from
VALORANT, [@PlayVALORANT]. (2021, March 16). We’re aware that a recent update is clashing with some antivirus software and keeping you out of the game. A fix is on the way!

Summary of Ralph et al.’s “How COVID-19 affects software developers and how their organizations can help”

TO: Prof. Ellis
FROM: Benson Huang
DATE: 3/3/2021
SUBJECT: 500-Word Summary of Article on Covid-19’s effect on Software Developers

The following is a 500-word summary of a peer-reviewed article about how they investigate the effects of the pandemic on developers’ wellbeing and productivity through surveys. Covid-19 is declared a pandemic by WHO on March 11th which resulted in lockdowns and as such many were either laid off or told to work from home. Being forced to work at home without preparing there were many problems and issues rose. According to the authors “People are less likely to comply when they are facing a loss of income, personal logistical problems, isolation, and psychological stress (as cited in DiGiovanni et al. 2004)”. Smaller businesses will try to stay open and people with basic needs at risk are less likely to comply with efforts. After the pandemic we will find more businesses allowing remote working. However, this is not practical for every business as some must work in-store and some do not have a dedicated workspace at home. There are reports of remote working being more productive but some of these reports are self-reports which may be biased. Measuring productivity for software developers is difficult as different lines of code can have varying effects on their program. Yet some companies still use it as a measure for their software developers. It has been found that software developers’ well-being is closely related to job satisfaction so keeping them happy is important. A questionnaire was sent out to collect data to find if they supported some hypotheses. The target of the study was software developers who use to work in an office but now work at home, but the survey was open to all software developers. The survey is fully anonymous with a filter question for people who did not meet the requirements. Although there was no cash for doing the survey, the authors offered to donate to an open-source project of the persons choice. To get as many responses as possible the survey was advertised on many websites, had the translation for different countries and for some countries a different website had to be used because google was blocked. According to the authors “We received 2668 total responses of which 439 did not meet our inclusion criteria and 4 were effectively blank leaving 2225” (Ralph et al., 2020, p. 4940) showing that 2 of the hypotheses were supported. Some interesting patterns were found one of which was that if someone was isolated, they tend to be more afraid. Some patterns were consistent with studies of SARS back in 2004. Overall, the results showed that software developers working from home are showing less productivity and wellbeing. As such normal productivity rates during pandemics should not be expected and employees should just accept the fact that they cannot output as much work. Some things to note about the survey Google form is blocked in some countries so an alternative is needed, working with international teams for a multilanguage survey can generate large samples, COVID-19 is creating strains on businesses, organizations, and people.


Ralph, P., Baltes, S., Adisaputri, G., Torkar, R., Kovalenko, V., Kalinowski, M., Novielli, N., Yoo, S., Devroey, X., Tan, X., Zhou, M., Turhan, B., Hoda, R., Hata, H., Milani Fard, A., & Alkadhi, R. (2020). Pandemic programming. Empirical Software Engineering, 25(6), 4927–4961.