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Talk:Margaret Hamilton (software engineer)

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I'll try to tackle this one, as my second Bio :) ~ Dr. Lords (talk) 18:16, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Done and ready for reviewing ~ Dr. Lords (talk) 00:14, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Article commentEdit

Hi, similarly to Praveen Chaudhari the article needs work, please compare what I did there. Please check WP:LINKS and WP:CATEGORY, and take a look at WP:LAYOUT. You can also compare other good or featured articles on scientists for ideas on layout and content structure. Hekerui (talk) 07:04, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, I will do so :) ~ Dr. Lords (talk) 18:27, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

References are incorrectEdit

Hi, it appears that the references are just a copy+paste from somewhere else. There are many references to different Marget Hamilton's. e.g the X3D-UML publications are not the same Marget Hamilton (they refer to this Marget Hamilton I suggest that this section be rewritten. A suggested approach is to use google scholar and find only 2 or 3 highly cited papers that are definitely written by the correct Marget Hamilton. These will be the papers she is widely known for and of interest in a wikipedia article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Internetscooter (talkcontribs) 23:58, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll look into it and correct where needed :) (nice catch) ~ Dr. Lords (talk) 18:26, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
It seems that the only correct reference was the Apollo one, so I just removed them all for now, and later when I have more time I will re-research the issue. Thanks again, ~ Dr. Lords (talk) 18:52, 4 August 2010 (UTC).

Coining the term Software EngineeringEdit

The article states "Margaret was also the individual who coined the term “software engineering”" and has a citation "By A.J.S. Rayl "NASA Engineers and Scientists-Transforming Dreams Into Reality"" at that says "With her colleagues, she developed the building blocks for modern “software engineering,” a term Hamilton coined." Is there other evidence of this? The Wiki page for Software Engineer states "The term software engineering first appeared in the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference". Searching the web shows that F. L. Bauer is credited with coining the term, see Which is correct? Cxbrx (talk) 16:08, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

This was recently changed to say popularized. The new source cited suggests Anthony Oettinger orginated the term, although that is not supported by the sources cited (only that he used it prior, the one source explicitly states "What I don’t know is whether Prof. Oettinger created the term, or whether it had been in use before. In the latter case, does anyone know of an older reference?" This is likely to require some more research to clear up. --TeaDrinker (talk) 22:16, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

About the picture of Hamilton next to a pile of booksEdit

I undid the 16:47, 7 June 2015‎ revision that claim she is standing next to (AGC) source code. The source for that claim is a VOX article that list no references except a supposed quote with no source. Arguably the "Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual" (Haynes) is a more credible source for now.

More proof: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:32, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

The VOX article references a direct quote from Margaret Hamilton, herself, provided to the author of the article, Dylan Matthews. The information provided in the caption under Margaret Hamilton's photo in the "Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual" (Haynes) is not correct. The quote in the VOX article is as follows: "In this picture, I am standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code," Hamilton says in an email. "To clarify, there are no other kinds of printouts, like debugging printouts, or logs, or what have you, in the picture."
In "Moon Machines: Software for the Apollo Mission", Margaret Hamilton, in this same photo, is NOT identified as standing next to "printout results from simulations" The definitive proof is Ms. Hamilton's own statement to the fact that these are, indeed, listings of actual AGC code next to her in the photo. See above paragraph. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Annaamalia (talkcontribs) 20:17, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
Hamilton's statement is in no way definitive, considering the time interval. When reliable sources disagree, Wikipedia should present all the views. Rhoark (talk) 23:00, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree with user Rhoark's statement. I retired with over 40 years of experience in developing software, much of it systems software. I can't remember a time when anybody had a stack of listings of pure source code. More than likely those are compiler or assembler listings, which typically contain lots of information beyond the source code, such as cross reference information, the assembly language corresponding to the high level source statements, etc. Such things can easily double the amount of paper used over a simple listing of the source code.
This photograph has appeared on Facebook with the claim that the stack is "the code she wrote by hand". I doubt that she wrote this much code "by hand" (whatever that means) in her career. This woman is very impressive. She doesn't need the help of such puffery. SDCHS (talk) 05:52, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

I removed the statement that it's a listing of the guidance software. Full listings of the software are available on the net, linked from the Wikipedia article on the AGC. Listings for both sections (Colossus and Luminary) are here: and Each is approximately 1750 pages, for a total of 3500 pages. That's a stack between 15" and 30" high. Ms. Hamilton may have made a claim as to the contents in an email to a Vox author, but a >40-year-old memory related in a hearsay email is not dispositive against the actual dimensions of a 3500 sheet stack of paper. Zooks527 (talk) 21:43, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

Apollo 11 "checklist error?"Edit

According to this article, the problem that nearly doomed the Apollo 11 moon landing wasn't a "checklist error" but rather a design documentation error. (Or more specifically, "it was an absurd confluence of events that started with a documentation error and ended up with a switch being flicked at precisely the right (or wrong) fraction of a second.") Kmote (talk) 19:55, 28 July 2015 (UTC)


She was divorced according to the [boston globe|] reference in the article. How should this be displayed in the sidebar? I don't think it should just say: spouse Sethwoodworth (talk) 21:16, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

GA nomEdit

i'm going to nominate for GA since the revscore says GA Duckduckstop (talk) 19:54, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

Coining the term "software engineering"Edit

According to Milestones in Computer Science and Information Technology, entry on software engineering, Edwin Reilly cites historian Brian Randall as believing that the term came from Fredrich L. "Fritz" Bauer. He says to see pp 1606-11 of Encyclopedia of Computer Science for additional reading, but my edition of that book is older and doesn't contain those pages. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 15:32, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

It looks like the 4th ed. does not have it, although Google Books may have simply omitted these pages. The Milestones book does mention him above "software engineering" on p. 309, so it may be correct. If Reilly specifies the version number, please let me know. Tonystewart14 (talk) 21:47, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
Also see this discussion above. Tonystewart14 (talk) 21:52, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
Reilly (in Milestones...) doesn't seem to say which edition of the Encyclopedia he uses. But Milestones was dated 2003, so it was probably the current version of Encyclopedia of Computer Science at the time, which is by Ralston and Reilly himself. I have the third edition of the Encyclopedia. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 22:16, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
There are now two web links as references. No disrespect, but these likely quote Hamilton herself. I would rather go by a bonafide paper source. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 23:07, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

Software engineering credits Anthony Oettinger for coining the term, so the statement in the article is disputed. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:11, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

The aforementioned encyclopedia says "The term software engineering first appeared at NATO-sponsored conferences in 1968 and 1969 in Garmish, Germany and Rome, Italy." It cites Naur, 1976, Software Engineering: Concepts and Techniques. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:15, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

I am removing "Dubious", see last reference: The NASA Heritage of Creativity. annaamalia —Preceding undated comment added 17:55, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

Request for CommentEdit

There is clear agreement at least to change; a headcount suggests removal. Subsequent discussion, however, is suggesting agreement can be found on a rewrite in which the claim is modified/contextualized. Perhaps a separate RfC can decide on that if editors can't agree. Drmies (talk) 03:58, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The article on Hamilton states that she coined the term "software engineering" and it now cites three webpages. I noted on the talk page that authoritative paper encyclopedias disagree with that. Twice I put the "dubious" tag on it, but they were removed by the same person, without adequate discussion or consideration.

According to Milestones in Computer Science and Information Technology, entry on software engineering, Edwin Reilly states that the term was coined at the NATO conference in Brussels in 1968. He says that participant and historian Brian Randall believes that the term came from Fredrich L. "Fritz" Bauer.

The Encyclopedia of Computer Science, by Anthony Ralston and Edwin Reiley, third edition, says that the term first appeared at NATO conferences in 1968 and 1969, but in Germany and Italy. They cite Naur, Randall, and Buxton, editors of "Software engineering: Concepts and Techniques", Proceedings of the NATO Conferences, 1976.

Whether or not Hamilton coined the term "software engineering" needs to be addressed. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 18:34, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

  • Remove. It's clearly dubious. The sources are from NASA, which is a reliable source for most things related to spaceflight, but these particular publications are puff promotional pieces, not, for example, engineering documents (like a mission report) or a footnoted history. In addition, those two sources are obviously one; they use identical wording, so one just copied from another. The statement becomes no more reliable just by being republished. The news article is obviously sourced from NASA, and adds nothing.
There are adverse claims that are well documented in reliable sources, and those alone make the claim dubious.
Finally, the claim is really unimportant to the biographical article. Hamilton's achievements are as a programmer, engineer, computer scientist and pioneer in women's accomplishments at a time when such accomplishments were even more of a challenge than they are today. The basis of her notability is not her success at coining phrases. The article loses nothing by dropping the claim. TJRC (talk) 19:03, 15 July 2016 (UTC)
Meaning no offense, TJRC, bu the (impressionistic) doubts of individual editors cannot, in and of themselves, override the verification we derive from reliable sources. In this instance, we have three decent reliable sources all supporting the statement in question, two of which come from NASA, which, aside from its general high standard of reliability, was an organization uniquely and centrally positioned with regard to the events and claim in question--it also has some of the deepest historical archives and institutional memory on the topic available anywhere.
As to the third source possibly taking it's lead from NASA, well that's not really relevant, for a number of reasons: 1) we have no reason to assume that's the case, let alone proof; the author of that article clearly interviewed Hamilton recently, and there's nothing in the content of that article to suggest whether he got the factoid from Hamilton herself, from NASA, or an altogether different source turned up during his. 2) Even if it were true, said source would still qualify as WP:RS under all policy and community consensus on WP:Verification; there's no guideline which says that multiple sources asserting the same fact must be disregarded for purposes of WP:WEIGHT if we simply suspect the author of one such source was aware of another of the sources. That would be absurd for too many reasons to list here, but not the least of which are that this would invalidate the majority of sources used on Wikipedia and the fact that this approach would encourage editors to try to second guess the research and conclusions of reliable sources, supplanting their own original research into the topic, which is pretty much the opposite of how we are meant to approach content disputes.
Lastly, the argument that this information should not be mentioned here because it does not concern her "main claim to fame" holds absolutely no water for me. First off, I cannot express enough how much I disagree with the assertion that the claim is "really unimportant". Being the person to coin the name for one of the most fundamentally important occupations of the modern world is hardly insignificant; if true, it would mean Hamilton was centrally positioned enough (and broadly respected enough by her peers) that it could travel from her to the broader engineering community. The claim is clearly connected to Hamilton's main bonifides, and augments her standing in the field she undoubtedly helped to pioneer. But even if it were something of only tangential importance to her main notability (say, for example, if she was not an engineer but rather an administrative functionary), it would still be worth mentioning; BLP's routinely mention information which is noteworthy but not connected to the main thrust of a person's fame. So this argument in particular seems to be really missing the forest for the tress. Snow let's rap 08:39, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
But the statements on those web pages may have come from Hamilton herself. I have two two paper encyclopedias that contradict that, plus they refer to the proceedings of a conference that says the same thing (but I don't have a copy of the proceedings). Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 15:33, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Is it possible that they came from her? Yeah, I suppose, but that's pure speculation and quite an assumption to make. And even if you and I knew someone inside NASA who had told us as much, it would still be WP:Original research to form our content accordingly without a reliable source to verify it. As it stands, doing so would be both original research and pure speculation.
That being said, two encyclopedias presenting alternative stories can't just be ignored. Though note that they could just as easily be subject to the exact same scenario you posit for Hamilton--they could be based on direct claims from researchers themselves, which is why Wikipedia editors do not go down the rabbit hole of supplanting claims from reliable sources with their own research, because it just inevitably leads to too much cherry-picking of sources to conform to our own conclusions and suspicions. Again, in my editorial judgment, when you have multiple high-quality reliable sources presenting multiple narratives said to come from various of the researchers and institution involved, the only thing we can do, while being consistent with policy, is present the disagreement to the reader and let them draw their own conclusions, rather than sanitize the article of all reference to sourced claims, in order to favour the narrative that we personally suspect is most likely. Again, the latter approach would just be straight up original research.
BTW, on a side note, I do think you did the appropriate thing in adding the dubious tag and that it shouldn't have been removed without discussion. But now that we're addressing the root issue, I can't see a way forward but to present the competing claims. Snow let's rap 04:52, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Keep, but provide more appropriate attribution, and note alternative claims. There is sufficient reliable and independent sourcing to validate the statement, but we do need to address the fact that alternative claims have been made as to the origin of the terms. It seems to me as if the two sides who have been not-quite edit warring over this have become entrenched and are not seeing the obvious potential for a middle-ground solution here that would most directly meet the needs of providing accurate and well-contextualized information to our readers. There's absolutely no reason why we cannot present the varying accounts (as to the origin of the term) to our readers; point in fact, policy compels us to when the actual facts are unclear, especially when more than two narratives exist, as here. We can, and absolutely should, say that some accounts attribute the coinage of the term to Hamilton, but that alternative accounts exist. When reliable sources conflict in their assertions, they do not "cancel eachother out" nor do we get to choose the story which sounds best to us as editors; each source supports the assertions they make and we present the full story to our readers and allow them to come to their own conclusions. Snow let's rap 08:39, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove - seems dubious. Factually, it is not sufficiently supported and does not add significant amount of material to the article. At a minimum give some 'when, where, and why' to the claim, and cite 'how'. I've seen it mentioned as the name for a 1968 Nato conference, and a 1966 ACM proceedings text, and she started work in 1960 so seems a bit junior to have been having a wide effect. Is it that she supposedly spoke at NATO or did some article for ACM or what ? It's possible I guess, but I'm from Missouri here -- show me. Markbassett (talk) 22:51, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
    • I haven't heard of the 1966 ACM proceedings but the references that give the 1968 NATO conference credit it to people other than Hamilton. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 23:58, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Bubba73 - Finding things of the time was an easy Google. I see no presence of her in the literature of that period, and no prominence in spreading the topic. The literature goes in other ways and this seems just a typo or fringe thought. It looks like Software engineering tie to her is bad info, and she was around when it became popular but neither originated the term nor played any notable part in developing the concepts. And it's also explicitly stated as originated by Oettinger in 1966 and cites his ACM letter at Software engineering.
1The 1968 conference was on "Software Engineering", so seems an early cause of publicizing something already known and it's then becoming mainstream. From Software Engineering: Report on a Conference Sponsored by the NATO Science Committee "In late 1967 the Study Group recommended the holding of a working conference on Software Engineering. The phrase ‘software engineering’ was deliberately chosen as being provocative, in implying the need for software manufacture to be based on the types of theoretical foundations and practical disciplines, that are traditional in the established branches of engineering." It also speaks pg 75 of NAS as then forming an education committee and pg 79 "This is the first conference ever held on software engineering..." That and the later publications give Barry Boehm prominence in development of the topic, and also Dijkstra ('software crisis')and Wirth...
The 1966 ACM letter I saw mentioned in a post here "The August, 1966 issue of Communications of the ACM (Volume 9, number 8) contains an interesting letter to the ACM membership by Anthony A. Oettinger, then ACM President." I have also seen mention in the History of Software Engineering pg 4 see "The term 'software engineering' began to appear in the literature in the fall of 1966. Though many were not ready to adopt it, the phrase was endorsed by one of the ENIAC designers, J. Presper Eckert". The reason for the term was described in Dijkstras Crisis as a label in an effort to form something separate from the language Algol or individual shops.
Again, suggest remove this mention. Markbassett (talk) 14:01, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
Thank you very much for doing that research. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 15:43, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
With respect, Mark, I'm having a hard time understanding exactly what you are saying here and there, but this looks like quintessential WP:Original research; i.e. "Well I know what the WP:Reliable source secondary source says, but according to my own research concerning the primary sources, I have come to a different conclusion." And who knows, you may be right, but that's just not how WP:Verification works on Wikipedia. Snow let's rap 22:43, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
[User:Snow Rise|Snow]] - Sure, I'll try to make it more understandable. WP:EXCEPTIONAL It's not readily credible, isn't supported widely or in detail and is strongly reported otherwise. WP:WEIGHTWP:FRINGE If presented in due proportion, the relative amount that say this is invisibly small and have no detail against deep descriptions that say otherwise with names and dates and places and published works. WP:OFFTOPIC It's a side remark not really central or important to the article. Seriously -- this is supported only by a single-line claim within NASA-internal and informal award writeup and what seems a derivative NASA-promotional and in the end it just looks like a mistake. It's not appearing as a controversy -- even in her own remarks about her history this article cited this simply isn't mentioned. Seems best to simply delete. Markbassett (talk) 19:38, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
Again, not meaning to personalize this discussion, but it seems as if maybe you are not altogether familiar with all of the policies you are citing.
 · WP:WEIGHT actually umnambigously supports some form of inclusion here, since we have multiple reliable sources supporting this claim, and not a single reliable source which has itself cast doubts on those facts (and, there are an equivalent or lesser amount of sourcing supporting the competing claim. So WP:NEUTRALITY/WP:WEIGHT considerations actually bolster the argument for inclusion.
 · WP:FRINGE does not remotely apply here. We're talking about statements from NASA which owned and oversaw every single aspect of the engineering project in question, still retains the most substantial historical records on the subject, and is about as mainstream as you can get. Here's some relevant wording from WP:FRINGE: "The governing policies regarding fringe theories are the three core content policies, Neutral point of view, No original research, and Verifiability. Jointly these say that articles should not contain any novel analysis or synthesis, that material likely to be challenged needs a reliable source, and that all majority and significant-minority views published in reliable sources should be represented fairly and proportionately. Should any inconsistency arise between this guideline and the content policies, the policies take precedence." The sources we have here are reliable under Wikipedia's standards and they directly support the claim in question, with no need for synthesis. Your interpretation, on the other hand, puts forward a huge amount of original research--and you might feel this OR is just a collection of reasonable assumptions, but until you find sources to directly support those assumptions, they remain OR.
 · Your invocation of WP:EXCEPTIONAL ("exceptional claims require exceptional sources)") confuses me. On the one hand, you want to say this is an exceptional claim requiring the most rigorous of standards, on the other hand you want to classify the claim as incidental and really not relevant enough to mention, which seems discontiguous to say the least. In any event, I can't see how those three reliable sources are insufficient to the task, although we could always ask for additional opinions from WP:RSN. As to WP:OFFTOPIC, that is not a policy, nor even a guideline--it's just part of an WP:essay and does not reflect community consensus, and must be disregarded especially where pillar policies, like those discussed above, govern. Even if it were binding policy, it wouldn't be relevant here; this claim is directly related to principle work of Hamilton's career, her standing in her field, and her WP:Notability generally, and (if true) is a pretty significant indicator of her role in the development of the field, so the notion that it is "off topic" to her BLP seems frankly asinine to me.
So I'm afraid I'm going to have to stick with the general principle that, as Wikipedia editors, we represent what is said in reliable sources, not our own idiosyncratic theories of "what probably really happened".Snow let's rap 23:45, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
".Snow ... further explaining my inputs:
  • For WP:WEIGHT I suggest you consider more the effect of in proportion to prominence e.g. note from the start of WP:FRINGE. "Wikipedia summarizes significant opinions with representation in proportion to their prominence. A Wikipedia article should not make a fringe theory appear more notable or more widely accepted than it is. Statements about the truth of a theory must be based upon independent reliable sources. If discussed in an article about a mainstream idea, a theory that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight, see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, in particular Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Due and undue weight, and reliable sources must be cited that affirm the relationship of the marginal idea to the mainstream idea in a serious and substantial manner." What says ACM and NATO are so many scholarly works in large number, from many sources, with name and date and much details that for this article to speak about the term has to either view the NASA pieces as not significant in the overall -- or if this article presents the claim it would be portraying it as a teeny rare remark with no details. I think delete is by far the better wording choice for this article.
  • The WP:OFFTOPIC is speaking to a different meaning of insignificant, that in the text of this article the coining of a term has no major involvement in the other text of the article. It is presented as a tiny aside that could be removed without much change textually or conceptually to the encyclopedic picture telling us about her.
  • For WP:EXCEPTIONAL I did list the indicators there that seem to relate, but fundamentally it's just that the claim seemed not very credible in the first place and this seemed a more relevant wiki principle to name than what WP:CREDIBLE took me to. In the early 1960s it is about, for a 20-ish person who was less than 6 years in the field made such a change to academia and NATO is tough to believe. The status put on women in early 1960s at academia and NATO also seems against it. That the cites give me no detail when/how to support the claim and nothing in the article seems a cause/result make it look more likely a typo or mis-reading. She was in the field at the time so it's not ~theoretically~ impossible for her to have somehow been involved, but the NATO cite's just lack anything to say about it or give any details helping to believe it is anything more than a mis-wording there.
Since this is RFC, I suggest you simply accept that there has been my input and that I've given further details about that input.

  • I'll go with keep, but provide more appropriate attribution, and note alternative claims. It's standard operating procedure to note discrepancies in RS, not pick one we personally like better in a sword-waving contest, and pretend the other doesn't exist. We have a problem here, also, in that the contrary sources are also contrary to each other; this is not one claim vs. another, it's three competing claims. There's also the fact that phrases, especially descriptive ones like this (versus madeup silliness like "fnord" or "jabberwock"), can legitimately be coined, and enter public usage, more than once from different directions; this has actually happened many times.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:13, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove or significantly reduce the claim. There's some contention, which we'll have to add pointless verbiage to fully explain. Why bother? It's not a notable claim. If I was with a team working with Silly Putty, and at one point I put the word "engineering" after it, so what? Even if silly putty engineering became a big thing afterwards, that doesn't make me a genius of foresight or anything. Any drop-out could have done as much, and many may have done so separately and repeatedly. That's probably why there's contention. --A D Monroe III (talk) 23:04, 19 July 2016 (UTC)
With respect, that's a pretty ridiculous non-sequitur; playing with silly putty and pioneering a field of engineering which transformed the course of human technological development, and by extension the life of every human being on the planet, are not remotely analogous. Having been central enough to the development of the field that one even can be credited as one of the people who might have coined the term "software engineer" (let alone being the one who actually did it) is a huge thing. There's plenty to parse and disentangle here with regard to our policies and the sources, but this argument that this a non-notable--when it reflects a seminal moment in the development of human technology and has the potential to speak directly to Hamilton's influence on that monumental change--is frankly absurd, to my eyes. Snow let's rap 01:12, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
Yikes. I'm guilty of using something with "silly" in it for an analogy; I'm sorry. Nothing she's done is silly; she's a pioneer with many notable accomplishments. I just think the phrase "software engineering" isn't one of them. I wish we had more definite sources that she was instrumental in inventing SW engineering itself (not just the phrase), as I'd guess she was, but such a concept isn't black-and-white. While inventing a specific phrase may be more B&W, I think tying her name to a mere easy-to-invent phrase belittles her accomplishments. Pinning the phrase to her is, I think, just an attempt to make her influence in SW Eng more obvious. I'd be okay with this if it wasn't disputed in some way. But having WP mumble about it because of source disputes just makes the attempt seem lame, which isn't respectful to her. (BTW, I chose Silly Putty only because I was on such a team. Similar substances were used as well, but none of them have articles. Though it was fun, I didn't think any of it was silly at the time. Since it was eventually abandoned and didn't lead to any SP engineering today, maybe it was just silly. Sigh.) --A D Monroe III (talk) 14:59, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
Actually, I never said a thing about your use of the word "silly", nor emphasized it in any way--so I'm not sure why you're interpreting my comments in that light. I get it, you just wanted to create an analogy and used the first thing that came to mind. My point was not that your comparison was flippant (though, indeed it could easily come off that way), but that it fundamentally failed as an analogy. It's a non-sequitur. I don't know what you imagined "silly putty engineering" would entail, but it obviously couldn't be equivalent to the scale of importance of the subject matter being discussed here. The de-coupling of computation from solid-state instruction, astronomically broadening the capabilities and utility of computational devices, was a game-changing epoch in the history of human technological development, the consequences of which to human life cannot be overstated. So yes, it means something if Hamilton was central enough to that chain of research and development that she could coin the name for the chief profession of that emerging field. We can, and should, make sure that what we are stating is supported by sources. But to try to wash this away as irrelevant or inconsequential, when it clearly speaks to the main thrust of her notability and her standing in her field just strikes me as--well, in a word, silly. Snow let's rap 23:45, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
If I replace "Silly Putty" with "X" in my comment, I find it hard to see how anyone could imply "you can't compare X with software, because software is very important". Those kinds of arguments appear to be based solely on X being "improper". But, whatever. Rephrasing, my point is that any "X engineering" phrase by itself isn't an invention, no matter how important X engineering becomes; it's an obvious extension of current common terminology, requiring no special talent. Only inventing X engineering beyond a phrase into an actual methodology is significant. Hamilton probably helped do that for software, but the sources aren't that definite. If we ignore the discrepancy in the sources and state the phrase is hers alone, that's undue. If we stretch and expand the wording to avoid undue, that's counterproductive; it emphasizes the possibility that she may not have achieved this, when the phrase isn't important. We should focus on her well-sourced significant achievements. --A D Monroe III (talk) 16:28, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment - For what it is worth (probably not much), I checked two books about the Apollo Guidance Computer, Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer, and The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation and Hamilton is not in the index of either. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 02:21, 20 July 2016 (UTC)
I'm confused, are we now calling into question Hamilton's role in the Apollo program? If so, that seems like the subject of another thread, but clearly we have no shortage of sources speaking to her central role with regard to the development of the software for that program. In addition to the two and half dozen sources we already have for this article, here are four more (from dozens) that I found within just a few minutes of searching: Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight, which speaks to her insistence on resiliency in error self-checks, a 1982 Computerworld article which, like numerous other sources, makes clear that she ran the onboard flight software program and that many of the techniques she developed in that role had a huge impact on the evolution of coding as we know it, and here and here, yes, yet more sources which credit her with coining the phrase "software engineer", and provide additional context for how it originated and how it migrated into common usage. Here's a direct quote from the latter source, an interview with Hamilton herself:
"I fought to bring the software legitimacy so that it (and those building it) would be given its due respect and thus I began to use the term “software engineering” to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering; yet, treat each type of engineering as part of the overall systems engineering process. When I first started using this phrase, it was considered to be quite amusing. It was an ongoing joke for a long time. They liked to kid me about my radical ideas. Software eventually and necessarily gained the same respect as any other discipline."
So unless you are saying that Hamilton is either A) flat out lying, or B) lacks better understanding of events she was seated right in the middle of than us, trying to piece together random clues in scattered sources fifty years later, it would seem that her use of the term pre-dates the 1968/1969 usages referred to in the sources above. There is just too much verification of this claim, between both secondary reliable sources and the people and institutions involved in the research, to write this claim off completely as dubious. Hamilton's claim to the term is at least as strong as the other candidates, if not stronger. This absolutely should be noted in the article, regardless of whether we choose to take the additional step of noting the competing claims (which does seem like a reasonable middle ground solution to me). Snow let's rap 00:39, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
No, I'm not questioning her role in the Apollo Computer. I was looking for books about the AGC that might provide a reference, and noted that she was not listed in the index of either one. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 02:25, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove or Keep, but provide more appropriate attribution, and note that it is a disputed claim. This is clearly disputed, and possibly unknowable ultimately. I also endorse the point made by others that coining the term pales into insignificance in comparison with the software engineering she actually did. Pincrete (talk) 17:57, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Remove "coined the term software engineering" This is clearly a contested claim. I would suggest simply mentioning that she promoted use of this term or helped popularise it. I will have a look at this in detail later if I have time. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 11:09, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Remove claim as is; my first choice would be to move the whole "dispute" about who originated the wording into software engineering (BTW, that article right now claims the term is Oettinger's without doubt) and not even mention here (as WP:UNDUE); however, having the claim with sources and the counterclaims is acceptable as well. (Summoned by bot.) TigraanClick here to contact me 07:42, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Re-analysis of the present sourcing and a proposal for a middle-ground re-writeEdit

Since this discussion began, additional sources have come to light supporting the claim. At present, we have five such sources, all of which qualify as WP:RS, two of which come from NASA, and all of which rely on some part on quotes from researchers involved, including Hamilton herself. One of the newer sources provides additional context for when Hamilton conceived the term, how it was received, and how it migrated into more common usage. These sources are more numerous and detailed than the accounts that have been presented for competing claims, and I don't doubt that there are more still to be found. All of that being said, I share SMcCandlish's view that there's no reason not to believe that these accounts are mutually exclusive. The 1968 and 1969 NATO conferences might represent the first public and popular usage of the term, but only after Hamilton had been using the phrase with fellow elite researchers at NASA, as she unambiguously says she did. Likewise, its entirely plausible that Bauer, working along similar lines, but on another continent and in a different language, also began using the phrase, independently of Hamilton. Though in truth, we have no narrative to explain when and how he originated the term or whether he claimed to have coined it--we only have claims that he seems to have started using it in 1968. So i propose the following text be changed from...

"Hamilton coined the term "software engineering". Software engineering, at the time, was not taken as seriously compared to other engineering, it was not regarded as a science. She began to use the term "software engineering" during the early Apollo missions in order to give software the legitimacy of other fields such as hardware engineering. Over time the term "software engineering" has gained the same respect as any other discipline."


"While working on the Apollo program, Hamilton coined the phrase "software engineering", although the term was slow to gain traction amongst NASA engineers. Amongst computer engineers of the time, all work on software was generally referred to using the generic umbrella term of "programming", and was often considered one of the simpler tasks in the field of computational engineering. It was partly out of a desire to legitimize the field of software development and to emphasize its increasing importance and complexity of the task, that Hamilton began to refer to those who did this work in an engineering context as "software engineers". Alternative accounts have credited the phrase to German computer scientist Friedrich L. Bauer, who may have used it as early as 1968, although the usages may have developed independently. Regardless, by the end of the 1968, the term had gained significant enough exposure to be referenced in NATO conferences."

This would seem to meet everyone's original concerns. It addresses the existence of counter-claims which lead to the "dubious" tag in the first place, but without tossing the baby out with the bathwater--that is, ignoring robust sourcing which supports the notion that Hamilton consciously originated the term while working at NASA, as Hamilton herself directly asserts. It keeps this important aspect of Hamilton's work, standing, and outlook in our coverage, while acknowledging that the exact chain of events allows for at least some question as to who started using the term first and how it ended up an accepted term which brought the field she and Bauer both helped pioneer into its own. This seems like the most balanced approach to me, and the only one in these circumstances that WP:V, WP:NEUTRALITY and WP:WEIGHT allow. Snow let's rap 02:06, 21 July 2016 (UTC)

I agree with a change along those lines, except that one of the paper encyclopedias also lists another person as probably coining the term. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 02:30, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
Good point--I'll try to find a way to work that fact into the wording as well. I'll wait a day or two to see if we have any major reservations to this change amongst others who have commented here--that will give me time to format the references with appropriate quotes for clarity and attribution. If no one objects by then, I'll edit the article and see if the change sticks without controversy. Notably Annaamalia, who seems to have authored the original content and objected to the dubious tag, has not commented, but will hopefully see this as a reasonable contextualization of the claim. Snow let's rap 02:47, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
Agree with this direction, including accounting for the third possibility if that pans out as viably sourced. However, the material is long and detailed enough, and about the term not Hamilton, that it should move to Software engineering#History, with the Hamilton article stating more concisely that she is among those variously credited with coining the term (without going into details about the others and when/where), and her rationale for doing so. This article, basically, is not about the concept or the term, it's about Hamilton, and should remain focused there.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:19, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
Alright, I will trim some of the fat and move some of the detail to Software engineering#History, though it's possible that will lead to our having to re-examine the above facts with the editors of that page too. On a complete side note--when looking into this issue did anyone else notice that Software engineer is a pretty obvious WP:POV FORK of Software engineering--a fork that is half personal essay, half massive glut of obvious pointless statements, with a dusting of outright promotionalism to boot? I'm surprised that article has not been put up for merger a long time ago; it is truly well below our quality standards and doesn't contribute more than a few points relevant to an encyclopedic summary of the topic which can be easily rolled into Software engineering. But one thing at a time I suppose--and in the proper forum. Snow let's rap 11:08, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
Lets see We haven't seen anything new, so I'll suggest show the actual cites and content here first, and we discuss the weakness of support. I suspect it just not good or extensive that won't hold up well, but will have to see to tell. In the article I see three cites at the moment that seem fairly poor support.
  • NASA 2008, A.J.Rayl 50th anniversary overview of NASA mentions her in the Apollo section of it all and has one related remark "With her colleagues, she developed the building blocks for modern 'software engineering,' a term Hamilton coined." Weaknesses here seem the tagged-on phrase lacks supportive detail, and that it seems to be speaking of after the term is introduced by ACM and NATO. (i.e. 1966 for ACM journal, and 1967 titling of NATO conference)
  • Wicked Local unsigned article specifically on her, has one line "In fact, when Margaret started using the phrase “software engineering,” some people considered it a joke — an oxymoron like devout atheism, deafening silence, or a clear misunderstanding." Weaknesses here seem again a lack of much content but mostly that it is usage rather than creation, so does not support a claim to 'coining the term'.
  • NASA 2003, NASA Heritage of Creativity, annual report of their Innovations and Creativity Board, and down at the part about her cash award it includes one line. "The concepts developed became the building blocks for modern 'software engineering', a term coined by Ms. Hamilton, and immediately found use beyond Apollo on Skylab and Shuttle." Weakness here seem the same as the first NASA cite, and given the same language and picture occurs in both I think the 2008 item is just repeating this one.
So --- what are the other cites Markbassett (talk) 17:34, 21 July 2016 (UTC)
p.s. Am also interested in effect to views of prior commenters above about the further proposal. I've notified the ones not already here that there is a proposal and will see what comes if any respond. Personally think this is making the claim appear dominant, more common or credible than proper, and 'delete' still the best option for this article. Markbassett (talk) 13:17, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

The resolution proposed by Snow Rise seems to be a reasonable solution. annaamalia (talk) 21:09, 21 July 2016 (UTC)

  • Eh. "Coined the phrase" isn't fully supported by sources. The proposal goes into more detail about how it's a little sketchy, but still starts the same. The end result is a lot of text with little to definitely state. Readers will be left with "so what?", doing Hamilton a disservice. Instead, let's focus on her elevating (or even perhaps creating) SW engineering rather than merely saying "SW engineering". We can include her phrasing as an example of that after starting with the more notable accomplishment. --A D Monroe III (talk) 13:13, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

There is clear, multiply attested use of "software engineering" by Anthony Oettinger in 1965. I can't find an authoritative date for when Hamilton began to work on Apollo, but for context, 1965 was 2 years before the Apollo 1 disaster led to an overhaul of Apollo software methodology, and another year after that before Hamilton was promoted to oversee all programming on the project. As such we don't have ironclad evidence that she did not coin the term as a junior hire, but it doesn't seem likely. Douglas T. Ross said the term "software engineering" had currency within MIT's computing department already in the 1950s. Considering Ross at least as trustworthy as Hamilton, she could easily have heard "software engineering" while working on MIT's Whirlwind system. I can't find any mention of Hamilton and Ross interacting directly, but her employment overlapped with his tenure. In fact, I cannot find a source where Hamilton herself claims to have coined the term, only that she "began to use" the term. That is not exclusive with someone else having used the term before. The claim that she was the first has enough legs that it deserves to be in the article, if only to note that there are much more credible theories. Rhoark (talk) 19:51, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

A job ad in the 1963 (volume 8) Electrical Design News suggests the term was new, not yet much in use: Should have strong aptitudes for "software" engineering, i.e., programming, generation specifications, system analysis and formulations, developing mathematical models and making frequent customer contacts. B.S.E.E. required. (according to the snippet at this search; I verified the year by searching inside the volume for the title and volume and 1963). Dicklyon (talk) 01:33, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
  • When I put the dubious tag on this, I never thought that it would amount to all of this. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 01:10, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
The tag was next to three refs, one of which is completely inaccessible, one a throw-away aside in a NASA web page, and one a serious article that does NOT support the "coined". So yes, it was pretty dubious (even if it turns out to be true). It's clear the term was around in 1963, when she went from SAGE to Draper. But not at all clear whether she had anything to do with its use by then. Dicklyon (talk) 23:15, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Change I like Snow's second paragraph attempt, however I think coined should be changed to popularized with some further expansion at the end, possibly, she may have coined the term herself, but... StarHOG (talk) 15:08, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

OutsideTheOutside's reversionEdit

OutsideTheOutside is continually reverting my edits with unhelpful ad hominem edit summaries. Please discuss policy-based objections here. Criticism of a biography subject is not vandalism. Rhoark (talk) 04:44, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

To take out Hamilton's "Legacy" and make massive rewrites that leave out key elements regarding Hamilton's accomplishments would be considered by an average reader as vandalism. Hamilton's page has been around a long time and certainly does not need a total rewrite or massive revisions. I have tried to work with you to keep in the edits you have made that are balanced and on point. Your point about computer science courses is well taken. Separating computer science and software engineering I believe was the right thing to do. Douglas T. Ross has stated that he believes his software engineering course in 1968 was the first one.
The obsession with presenting a minority viewpoint about the “successful use” of the HOS methodology and presenting it as a majority viewpoint is a totally unbalanced misrepresentation of fact! This particular Navy evaluation you referenced is in the “minority viewpoint”. I believe the “majority viewpoint” is that the HOS methodology was quite successful and I have provided some the references regarding this point of view. Also, it should be pointed out that Hamilton left HOS in 1985; she had no role in being able to help the Navy with any of their concerns or misunderstandings. After Hamilton's departure from HOS, Inc., she and her technical people, in her new company, were concentrating on the creation and evolution of the Universal Systems Language (USL). In addition to other references to USL in Hamilton's Wiki, I will add an additional reference to a government funded evaluation of Hamilton's USL together with its 001Toolsuite product (001). As one can easily find on the Universal Systems Language (USL) Wiki page, USL/001 was used to build itself, which is quite remarkable.
The Dijkstra reference you have provided is one in which he is ranting and raving with inflammatory statements. I believe it has been well established in the industry that Dijkstra was about small programs and not about software engineering in general or about systems of systems in the large as Hamilton is. These are two different beasts and should not be conflated. Some references:
I was not able to find your statement that Ross "said the term "software engineering" had currency within MIT's computing department already in the 1950s." It would be good if you could be more precise in this regard. It however, should not in any way remove the fact that Hamilton "started using/made up" the term "software engineering" in the Apollo trenches. Hamilton has stated on more than one occasion that there was no field in place (i.e., no conferences or academic papers related to what they were doing) in the early days of Apollo. It is highly probable that she simply made up the term “software engineering” independent of anyone else.
Finally, all the work you did on the AGC software talk page, reducing the importance of Hamilton's accomplishments, should stay there for editors of that page to work out and not transferred over to Hamilton Wiki page to continue that agenda. We must be careful to get this page right because of Hamilton's prominence to Apollo and the field of software engineering to the extent that WP:V, WP:NEUTRALITY and WP:WEIGHT allows.OutsideTheOutside (talk) 20:27, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
Edsgar Dijkstra is in the top 10 most influential computer scientists to have lived. Unlike Hamilton, he actually did make theoretical advances in concurrency and formal verification that were lasting and celebrated. His is the closest to a majority view on Hamilton's methodology that can be found. Sources at all are thin on the ground, especially those WP:INDEPENDENT of the subject. For example, to support the claim that USL was a theoretical and commercial success, you have provided one source by Hamilton herself and a computer science textbook from 1986. I'd be interested in exactly what that textbook says, but in general if USL were a going concern it should be possible to find someone who said so in the past 20 years apart from a handful of consultants hocking 001 ToolSuite. Rhoark (talk) 20:42, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
OutsideTheOutside - for what it's worth, google books does show occasional use of the phrase "software engineering" in the 1950s, e.g. a 1954 job description in the The Chartered Mechanical Engineer here; an audio ad in 1954 CBS Magazine here; Digital Computer Internal Report here. If you google for MIT "software engineering" and 1950s, you get the period indicated as starting in 1955 by a course materials here. Though MITRE describes the same systems and period as "systems engineering" here. The bulk of the attributions to it's popular current use and meaning point at the 1968 NATO conference by that name as the key stimulating event, and it's naming is tied bck to Oettinger in 1966. Just saying there is some indications findable though I'd want something better. Markbassett (talk) 00:47, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for the additional context, Mark. Under these circumstances, I now think the best approach is to simply mention that Hamilton made a conscious effort to popularize the term within NASA, for the stated purposes. I think that's the most important encyclopedic information anyway, as it helps to illustrate the role of programming and programmers in advanced engineering fields at the time, and why this was a watershed period for the field where it went from afterthought to its critical role in modern computer science.
It's also relevant from a history of women in engineering and the sciences perspective, because many women programmers had gained significant positions in software development in a time when they generally struggled to be respected as anything approaching equals, because software was considered one of (if not the) least glamorous part of the constructing a computer for a given task. When the field of software engineering suddenly began to command a lot more respect, and it was clear many competent women had not just been doing the work but in fact making major innovations in this now all-important area, it obviously pushed back against the chauvinism which dominated the industrial sciences of the time. I am not proposing telling that narrative explicitly in this article, but it is one more good reason (amongst the several compelling policy reasons discussed above) to include reference to Hamilton's effort to legitimize the field through tactics like adopting the term "software engineer" for her work and that of her colleagues. However, if in fact we have significant indications that the term was being used in professional circles in the 50's, then "coined" should not appear, unless to underscore her erroneous belief. Perhaps something along the lines of...
"While working on the Apollo program, Hamilton began to use the phrase "software engineering" to describe the work of the Apollo Guidance Computer software teams, eschewing the more generic term of "programming" that was usually applied to even advanced software work at the time. The new phrasing was slow to catch on amongst other NASA engineers; computer scientists of the period often regarded software coding as one of the simpler tasks in computational engineering. It was partly out of a desire to legitimize the field of software development, and to emphasize the increasing importance and complexity of the task, that Hamilton began to refer to those who developed software in an engineering context as software engineers. However, there are accounts which suggest that Hamilton was not the first to use the term, and that it may have been in use in some circles as early as the late 1950's. Whatever the term's origin, by the end of 1968 it had gained significant enough exposure to be referenced in NATO conferences."
Frankly, I'm not sure that it's ideal to supplant our sources with what we've gleaned from our own perusal of Google books--WP:OR and all. But ignoring contrary facts is not in order either, so this is the best middle ground I can now see which serves both accuracy and WP:V. Note also that if we wanted to shorten this segment some, per SMcCandlish's thoughts, we could leave out the last two sentences entirely; since we no longer refer to Hamilton as "coining" the term, we need not go into the origins of the term, unless we decide that not doing so would imply that Hamilton coined it, rather than just using it well before it became common usage for the work of the field. Snow let's rap 08:38, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
I agree with the shortened version of your middle ground suggestion, per SMcCandlish's thoughts. annaamalia (talk) 18:58, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
That would be violating WP:WEIGHT, presenting it as the only view far above the due prominence. The main points of her career is early programmer, NASA software team leader, work for Apollo, expertise in exception handling which helped the moon landing, starting two businesses in the field, and numerous publications. This other thing is just a mistake not worth any mention, not having any detail to convey and just not supported by significant cites. Markbassett (talk) 00:29, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
I expected there would be at least one editor who would want the additional two sentences to help contextualize her use of the term and not give the impression she coined it. So--though I do understand and agree with SMcCandlish's perspective that those two extra sentences make the paragraph a little more unwieldy than it needs to be--as a compromise solution, I think it's reasonable to leave them in. But consensus is clearly leaning towards some mention of the way in which she used this term (which was obviously at least novel to NASA), and why she did it. To say that significant sources do not support this fact (when A) NASA and Hamilton herself have both confirmed it, B) the story has been carried in both industry magazines and the general press on multiple occasions, and C) virtually every source we have for this article that covers this part of the career mentions this story) is, in a word, wrong.
Likewise, to say that this "conveys no information" is also fundamentally wrong, and ignores the historical context of the profession of software development and why it was exceptional and telling that Hamilton pushed for the field to be treated with more legitimacy as an important part of computation (which seems obvious to us with the benefit of hindsight, but she was pushing against the popular opinion at the time in insisting upon this). I for one am happy to leave those extra statements in to make it clear that the ultimate origin of the term is rather up for debate, given how varied in conclusions our sources are on that question. But her reasons for using it at all are significant to her identity as a innovator and professional and as historical context for how we describe her career, and consensus seems to be to include this detail. Snow let's rap 05:40, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Whether the shortened version or the longer version is used, the point is that she did begin to use the term unbeknownst that any one else was using the term. The cites that exist of her "coining/started using/making up" are in the context of her work as a team leader in the Apollo trenches. All cites I have read in this regard seem to imply this. However, nowhere have I seen that Hamilton is trying to take credit for coming up with the term to the exclusion of anyone else or to be the first to have come up with the term. The point here, I believe, is that she was hunkered down in the Apollo effort and just wanted it to be made known that her software team was involved in an engineering process, not unlike the hardware engineers. All cites I have read in this regard seem to imply this. I don't believe we can discount this as a possibility given the cites we have at this time. I think this is also the point that SMcCandlish was making. annaamalia (talk) 06:30, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
I fundamentally agree, but I'm not sure we need to even go into whether or not she knew that the term existed previously; if we take her and NASA at face value (and it would take some pretty serious sourcing to convince me they were lying!), neither she nor her fellow NASA engineers knew about the usage of the term by other academics (if in fact such uses did exist--let's just assume for the purposes of this discussion that they did). But I just don't see the point in opening that can of worms. The important point here, in my editorial opinion, is that she made a conscious and focused decision to use the term for the explicit purpose of having the work of software developers recognized as engineering, when it took place in an engineering context. That tells us a lot about her perspectives, how she approached her work, the strides she made for her field, and the historical context in which she operated. That's all clearly encyclopedicaly relevant to a BLP.
What's more, it could replace a lot of the current "legacy" section--which (and please forgive me if you wrote it) currently feels more than a little like an essay, with over-the-top glorifying language that doesn't read very well. We could use this redundantly-sourced example of her behaviour and impact to underscore the role she played for both software engineers and women in computer science, without the current vague, glowing, and non-contextualized assertions. Snow let's rap 06:53, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Rhoark, regarding your statement that your Dijkstra reference supports Dijkstra as being the majority view of HOS's technology, is very weak. The references I have given already demonstrate the weaknesses in your argument that Dijkstra is the "majority view" by your statement about Dijkstra that "His is the closest to a majority view on Hamilton's methodology that can be found.". However, it would be good if you would provide peer reviewed articles, papers, or books to substantiate his knowledge of and use of "HOS" and/or "USL"; or any other derivative of the fundamental Concept of Control Hamilton developed at Draper as a result of her work on Apollo: M. Hamilton and S. Zeldin, "Higher Order Software—A Methodology for Defining Software," IEEE Trans. Software Eng., vol. SE-2, no. 1, Mar. 1976, pp. 9–32. If one reads the detailed axioms of control in this reference, one will see that Hamilton is not only aware of Dijkstra's work but also details a new formal theory of structured control that supports a constructive approach to the building of reliable asynchronous, distributed, concurrent systems in general and is not limited to structured software systems in particular. Further support and an extension of the theory can be found in M. Hamilton and W. R. Hackler (2008), "Universal Systems Language: Lessons Learned from Apollo", IEEE Computer, Dec. 2008. OutsideTheOutside (talk) 21:07, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
@OutsideTheOutside: Hamilton does have numerous peer-reviewed publications on this topic, but they do not meet the standard of WP:INDEPENDENT so do little to establish whether they align with a putative majority, and certainly cannot be a basis for excluding criticism from the article. Nor does Dijkstra need to be an expert on internal details of HOS to dismiss it, anymore than one would need to be an expert on astrology or homeopathy to reject it at its foundation. Rhoark (talk) 22:09, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Annaamalia / OutsideTheOutside has been blocked for sock puppeting. Does anyone else object to any of the following:

  • Accurately explaining the cause of the program alarms (AC power phasing, not pilot error)
  • Crediting J. Halcombe Laning for the asynchronous executive
  • Noting Jack Garman's role in mission control
  • Including Edsgar Dijsktra's criticism of HOS

Rhoark (talk) 13:30, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Only the first one gives me pause, and only because it goes against the narrative I've heard in the past, which may very well be a misconception or oversimplification. I'm sure it's already been discussed ad nauseum above and in the edit summaries, but would you mind repeating the sources which clarify the AC power phasing as the cause of the abort alarms? Other than that, in principle these all seem like details we could go into, but I for one would have to see the actual suggested text before forming a firm opinion as to its suitability. I think particularly that I'd need to see what noting Dijsktra's criticism would amount to, before judging if it is consistent with WP:Weight. Thanks for informing us about Annaamalia, by the way. Ugh, why would someone be so stupid as to sock here when things are already moving towards consensus? Snow let's rap 22:43, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
About the cause of the error, the best source I know is this one[1]. The relevant section starts a little before Figure 7. Rhoark (talk) 00:22, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
Right after posting that, I found this one that's more clearly a published work.[2] Rhoark (talk) 00:25, 29 July 2016 (UTC)


There should be a free photo of her getting the Presidential award (published by the US Government). Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 17:42, 24 November 2016 (UTC)

Is that portrait really from 1995 ? It doesn't look like she'd possibly be 63 years old, she looks more like 20 on the picture. (talk) 12:44, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

Dubious - "Coined the term"Edit

Despite all the discussion, and mentions giving Anthony Oettinger or Barry Boehm credit, the section still starts with claiming she coined the term Software Engineering. I'm going to put 'Dubious' back on there rather than 'disputed' to reflect that the claim itself is dubious. The alternative seemed to be inserting a prefae 'The term Software Engineering, variously attributed to either Oettinger or Boehm, has also been according to some sources originated instead by her'. Since I think it's just not prominent enough in her life and works to have even the current coverage, I'm inclined to use the shorter form instead. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 23:27, 26 September 2017 (UTC)

I'm going to repeat the essence of what I said above, but I'll try rewording it, since I don't think I spelled it out clearly enough.
Yes, it's clearly dubious, as in subject to doubt. There are well-sourced claims by others to coining the term. based on that alone I think that any source that simply states she coined the term, with no discussion of possible contrary claims, cannot be considered a reliable source for that claim. based on that alone, I think it should be removed. We can't keep an unaddressed "dubious" tag in there forever.
And again, whether Hamilton's notability does not stem from a claim that she coined a particular term. She's an outstanding pioneer in the fields of computer programming, management and manned spaceflight. There's no loss to omitting a dubious claim that she may have also contributed some terminology. It's quite the opposite; retaining a dubious claim weakens the article and distracts from her very important clear contributions. TJRC (talk) 23:43, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
I agree with the "dubious". Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 03:13, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

An IP user undid the tag and restored a lot of her self-speaking on this topic; I see no remarks here but will revert with note to TALK . I have done searching and ... this just isn't well supported. I see her make the claim on utube "Margaret Hamilton, Computer Scientist & Systems Engineer | MAKERS Profile" and another or same IP user suggest it is syncronicity and independent invention -- but simply put the public use of the term is distinctly traced to the NATO conference, and the wide spread is traced to works of Boehm. She lacks any visible public notice during the period of the 1960s and lacks any prominent works developing the meaning. She's got a reputable career and historical innovations in fault handling, interrupt processes, as recently noted by the White House -- but this topic simply is not visible with her until the 21st century. Markbassett (talk) 01:13, 1 December 2017 (UTC)

On the other hand "made up the term" isn't much of an improvement over "came up with the term" in dubiosity. TJRC (talk) 01:25, 1 December 2017 (UTC)

I appologize for the extremely long edit, but I did it to try to clear all of this up. The following Hamilton quote from Pearson is what is being referred to as “Dubious”.

Hamilton details how she came up with the term "software engineering" in the early days of Apollo:

... During the early days of Apollo, software was treated like a stepchild; it was not taken as seriously as other engineering disciplines.

... Having this kind of responsibility resulted in our creating a “field”, since there was no school at the time to learn “software engineering". This necessitated our creating methods, standards, rules and tools for developing the flight software.

...“What is the difference", I asked,"between what they are doing and what we are doing?” Knowing this, and the lack of understanding by many of what it took to create real world software based systems and the part our software played within these systems, I wanted to give our software “legitimacy” so that it (and those building it) would be given its due respect; and, as a result I began to call what we were doing “software engineering” to distinguish it from other kinds of engineering; yet, treat each type of engineering as part of the overall systems engineering process.

When I first came up with the term, no one had heard of it before, at least in our world. It was an ongoing joke for a long time. They liked to kid me about my radical ideas. It was a memorable day when one of the most respected hardware gurus explained to everyone in a meeting that he agreed with me that the process of building software should also be considered an engineering discipline, just like with hardware. Not because of his acceptance of the new "term" per se, but because we had earned his and the acceptance of the others in the room as being in an engineering field in its own right.[1]

Relationship to the term “software engineering”

There have been many references to Hamilton's coining, making up, coming up with the term “software engineering”. These include references from NASA, The Computer History Museum, various Googled links, the Pearson Fluency-7 interview from which the above quotes were taken; and by direct video by Hamilton herself in the MAKERS reference. And, the most recent reference: ICSE 40th International Conference on Software Engineering, Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2018 ICSE will celebrate its 40th anniversary, and 50 years of Software engineering – 50 years of tremendously successful promotion of research, education and practices in software engineering. 50 years since the NATO conference.

Hamilton is a Plenary Keynote for “50 years of SE”: In her CV, Hamilton states:

“To give their software “legitimacy”, so it (and those building it) would be given due respect; she made up the term “software engineering” to establish it as a form of engineering in its own right.”

My take on Hamilton's relationship with the term “software engineering” was simply to provide her statements documented in the Pearson book as her looking back upon what prompted her to “come up” with the term “software engineering” during Apollo. These quotes taken together tell the story of when (early Apollo), where (in her world, in the trenches developing Apollo flight software), and why (to give their methods and techniques legitimacy, just like “hardware engineering”).

These quotes by her in no way “contest” or “conflict” what others have done regarding their relationship to the term “software engineering”. She states: “When I first came up with the term, no one had heard of it before, at least in our world.” Here, she is restricting her relationship to the term to be in her world. Note, that back then Hamilton and her team were hunkered down getting man to the moon, not writing articles nor going to conferences. The quote from Pearson makes clear that there is no “instead by her” as is being brought up by Markbassed: “has also been according to some sources originated instead by her'.” There is no reason to believe Hamilton is assigning herself as being the first to come up with the term or in any way excluding others who may have also come up with the term. There are no “contrary claims” that I am aware of: that is, that someone else in the Apollo trenches came up with the term “software engineering”; in fact they were laughing at her for doing so.

Coming up with the term “software engineering” is one of the most prominent/recent “notable” things Hamilton has become known for: its all over the Web (including reputable sites) and numerous children's books have been written about this. Again the quote I have provided qualifies the context (discussed in the previous paragraph) in which her notability for this term should be considered: in her own words.

By attaching “dubious” to statements she has made regarding her relationship with the term “software engineering” is stating that she is being in some way disingenuous. And, the “her self-speaking on this topic” seems some what derogatory in tone. I don't think this is editor Markbassett's intent; but this is how it comes off. The above quote from Pearson is my attempt at clearing up the dubious issues brought up by Markbasset regarding earlier statements that did not include a clear context for Hamilton's coming up with the term “software engineering”. Hamilton should be afforded one of the many points of view as long as it is neutral, which I believe the above quote is.

Hamilton's Involvement in Software Engineering

Hamilton states from her perspective what she did while responsible (as Director

of the Software Engineering Division at MIT’s Charles Stark Draper Laboratory) for managing a team of ~400 software developers so that they were able work together using techniques that today we in the industry would label as “software engineering” techniques. From the quote above we are discussing:

“there was no school at the time to learn “software engineering". This necessitated our creating methods, standards, rules and tools for developing the flight software.”

She was given NASA's Space Act Award for treating software development as an engineering discipline. See:

Software engineering principles embodied into USL

Just because one has “Googled” doesn't mean that Hamilton has not been constantly active in the pursuit of “software engineering” goals. She has embodied “software engineering” lesson's learned from Apollo (see IEEE Computer article listed below) which were principles put in place manually during the Apollo missions and then evolved into a language, the Universal Systems Language (USL). Her company, Hamilton Technologies, developed both systems and software techniques and a life-cycle software engineering development tool in support of this language. These experiences have been documented in numerous conferences and government reports on how her USL language and its systems and software life cycle tool support has developed over the past 35 years. Her formalization of the concept of control embodied as modular control structures encapsulates aspects of “software engineering” principles directly into her USL language (a constructive approach for building systems and software).

Software Engineering Articles by Hamilton

1976: Hamilton, Margaret and Zeldin, Saydean, “Higher Order Software — A Methodology for Defining Software.”, IEEE Trans. on Software Engineering Vol. SE–2, Nr.1 (March 1976), 9–32. This is Hamilton's paper that formally codifies the foundation of systems and software engineering principles in terms of a set of axioms for a “logic of control”. These axioms are an attempt by Hamilton to provide the foundation upon which a language could be constructed to embed aspects of some of the software engineering principles she and her team had to deal with on Apollo.

1979: Hamilton, M. and Zeldin, S. “The Relationship Between Design and Verification.”, Journal of Systems and Software, Vol.1, Nr.1 (1979), 29–56. This paper describes the AXES language which supports the “logic of control” foundations (1976 above). Hamilton's axioms of control from 1976 provides the basis for 3 primitive control structures which enforce the concepts of modularity, information hiding, abstract layering of systems and asynchronous behavior inherently built into the syntax of the USL language.

1980: Harel, David, “And/Or Programs: A New Approach to Structured Programming”, ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems, Vol. 2, No. `, January 1989, Pages 1-17. Harel basically credits Hamilton's foundation paper as the basis from which he develops his And/Or programming language while at IBM. Note, Harel worked for Hamilton while attending MIT. Harel however, missed the “dynamics” of Hamilton's foundation (which is distributed and a fully asynchronous formulation). Harel also missed the fact that elements of a USL specification are totally ordered (not partially ordered) because each element has a unique priority. Subsequently Harel went on to develop “Statecharts”, which has a lot of the elements of his And/Or programming language, although using a different syntax.

1979: Randall W. Jensen, Charles C. Tonies, Software Engineering, 1979, pages: 94, 181, 191, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. (refers to Hamilton's work)

1986: Robert N. Charette, Software Engineering Environments: concepts and Technology, 1986, pages: 194, 195, Intertext Publications Inc., McGraw-Hill Company, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020 (refers to Hamilton's work)

1992: National Test Bed: Software Engineering Tools Experiment – Final Report, Volume IV, Hamilton Technologies Inc. (HTI) 001 Results, 1992. This is a final DoD report on Hamilton's 001Toolsuite; a software engineering tool for the full life-cycle management of the development of systems and software. As a note, after a small amount of bootstrap code, HTI developers developed the 001Toolsuite with itself.

2002: Robert H. Bishop, The MechatronicsHandbook, Chapter 49, 2002, CRC Press, Boca Raton, London, New York, Washington, D.C. In this chapter, Hamilton describes, among other things, the “Nature of Software Engineering”.

2008 M. Hamilton and W. R. Hackler, “Universal Systems Language: Lessons Learned from Apollo”, IEEE Computer, Dec. 2008 Hamilton goes over lessons learned from Apollo and provides a high level view of her Universal Systems Language in its current evolution.

This list is just a sample (a short list) of Hamilton's involvement in her continuing efforts to evolve “systems engineering” by embodying elements of “software engineering” directly into her USL. For her further concepts of “software engineering” as applied via the automated tool set supporting the “Universal Systems Language”, see references on the “Universal Systems Language” Wikipedia page.

Google search resulted in the following links: NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe stated: "The concepts she and her team created became the building blocks for modern 'software engineering.' ...” Which states: “Hamilton led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself.” Which states: “During this time at MIT, she wanted to give their software “legitimacy”, just like with other engineering disciplines, so that it (and those building it) would be given its due respect; and, as a result she made up the term “software engineering” to distinguish it from other kinds of engineering.” From an interview published in this book Hamilton states: "When I first came up with the term, no one had heard of it before, at least in our world. It was an ongoing joke for a long time.” … etc. Rayl states: “With her colleagues, she developed the building blocks for modern “software engineering,” a term Hamilton coined. What later became the foundations for her Universal Systems Language (001AXES) and Development Before the Fact (DBTF) formal systems theory, allowed the team to create what she called ultra-reliable software for the moon trip.

I believe this statement by Rayl is essentially correct by does not provide any of the context in which Hamilton came up the term, in Hamilton's words. Without the context given by Hamilton in “Fluency-With-Information-Technology-7th-Edition”, it comes off as an unfounded statement. The version of the text we are discussing that has been labeled as “Dubious” was intended to remove this unfounded statement and replace it with one that came directly from an interview with Hamilton which is found in “Fluency-With-Information-Technology-7th-Edition”. Restatement of information gathered from the Computer History Museum Fellow Award Bio. Abbreviated copy of Hamilton's Wiki. IP:


  1. ^ Snyder, Lawrence and Henry, Ray Laura, "Fluency7 with Information Technology", Pearson, ISBN 0-13-444872-3
  • I notice the dubious tag had gone from the claim was gone from the line about she made up the term Software Engineering. (And some further edits on the section -- though sadly not adding anything substantial about the bulk of her career, error checking advances to technology and her business career.) I've made the mention about others explicit and put the dubious tag back. It is WP:EXCEPTIONAL when phrased as if she alone put the term in general use as a field and academic area. As stated above, it existed back in the 50s, and generally is known and well-documented became popularized via Ottinger and Boehm starting in 1964. While it is possible that the "When I first came up with the term, no one had heard of it before, at least in our world." is about her either bringing the term to NASA in 1966 or even her inventing it locally, there is no presented evidence of her actually popularizing the term, and it simply is not plausible that in 1966 a 30-year old woman caused the historical events and there were no remarks about it, plus it is simple fact that Boehm did much of the popularizing and she was working not writing the books and papers that did it. Occasional cites, especially self-made or echoing her, just are too weak a basis for that large a claim. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 03:45, 22 March 2019 (UTC)

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Caption for the image with stack of listingsEdit

I'm putting back the caption for the picture of Hamilton with stack of computer listings. It certainly isn't "output" from a program. An article about the image, taken by a Draper Lab photographer in 1969, gives the original caption as "Here, Margaret is shown standing beside listings of the software developed by her and the team she was in charge of, the LM and CM on-board flight software team."[1] As I recall from the days of line printer output, versions of listings piled up everywhere. StarryGrandma (talk) 23:11, 9 July 2018 (UTC)

More about the stack of listings. The programs were hardwired into the AGCs using core rope memory. So the code had to be ready well ahead of time in order to manufacture the computers at Raytheon. Each delivery was a tape with the binary code and a listing which served to document the code.[2] Hamilton, as Collosus programming lead, would have ended up with a listing for each deliverable. For early launches this would have been CM code only; later both CM and LM code were delivered. The code deposited in github was transcribed from digitized scans of the Apollo 11 listings.[3] StarryGrandma (talk) 06:05, 10 July 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Weinstock, Maia (17 August 2016). "Scene at MIT: Margaret Hamilton's Apollo code". MIT News.
  2. ^ The Apollo guidance computer: Hardware and The Apollo guidance computer: Software from Tomayko, James E. (1987). Computers in Spaceflight: The NASA Experience (NASA-CR-182505). Marcel Decker.
  3. ^ Collins, Keith. "The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it's like a 1960s time capsule". Quartz. Retrieved 19 August 2016.

Almost caused, didn't avert, abortEdit

"the Apollo Guidance Computer together with the on-board flight software averted an abort of the landing on the Moon". Shouldn't that be "almost caused an abort", since it was the computer that was overloaded in the first place. Due to clever coding the software gracefully handled out-of-spec input, but nonetheless had the error not been quickly diagnosed by a human the mission could have been aborted due to the computer being overloaded. In other words: had the computer had more processing capacity the error the error would have not even caused to computer to hiccup. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A00:79E0:D:204:D9D5:E2F2:7A75:40E4 (talk) 12:50, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

The overflows were caused by hardware, not the software. Hamilton led the software development, and the software did indeed respond gracefully to the interrupts. This is described and sourced in the Apollo 11 section. VQuakr (talk) 18:53, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

Apollo 8 P01 errorEdit

There is a funny anecdote in NOVA s45e17 "Apollo's daring mission" where she was talking about her fear of the astronauts making an input error. Her daughter had been playing with a navigation computer and caused it to freak out by putting in the code P01 which made the computer think it was back on the launch pad as opposed to flying through space. She reported her concerns to the managers and the consensus was that the rockstar test pilots would never make such a simple error. Sure enough during Appolo 8 while they were flying back to earth Lovell (?) was putting in readings of star positions and hit P01 when he meant to put in 01, and the computer went a little nuts. (talk) 03:10, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

Apollo 11 section - length?Edit

The lengthy section on Apollo 11 is very interested; what it isn't, however, is encyclopedic. The Apollo 11 article has similar information, though not in as much detail. I think that the information on the computer incident should be greatly reduced in this article, maybe enhanced a bit in the Apollo 11 article, and that there should be a clear connection from this article to the relevant section in the Apollo 11 article, for readers interested in details. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 16:21, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

I agree that the Apollo 11 content is worth keeping, but not in this article. It should be merged into the Apollo 11 article, with a brief summary here and a Wikilink to more details. Reify-tech (talk) 19:23, 24 May 2019 (UTC)
What exactly in the section is irrelevant or undue in a biography of Hamilton. Can you be more specific so I can move or remove it pre-GA review? --- Coffeeandcrumbs 05:07, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

Requested move 30 May 2019Edit

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review after discussing it on the closer's talk page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The result of the move request was: page moved (closed by non-admin page mover) Kostas20142 (talk) 17:12, 6 June 2019 (UTC)

Margaret Hamilton (scientist)Margaret Hamilton (software engineer) – Please place your rationale for the proposed move here. --- Coffeeandcrumbs 09:07, 30 May 2019 (UTC)

Margaret Hamilton's notable achievements really fall more into the category of engineering (specifically, "software engineering"), since she did much more building of new systems rather than discovering new fundamental scientific principles. Do not be misled by the term "computer scientist", which really describes researchers who focus on making fundamental advances in the mathematics of computation and algorithms, rather than on building practical computer systems, which is the domain of "computer engineers".

There is no shame in this (I speak as a lapsed Physics major who switched into getting a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), but the article name should be changed to reflect the facts of her career. This is straightforward, and I am willing to do this, but want to get a consensus among interested editors before acting. Reify-tech (talk) 19:23, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

Using the term "engineer" in the US for persons who haven't gone through a traditional engineering curriculum is controversial. Hamilton's training was in mathematics, and in my day computing was taught in math departments. I would suggest "software engineer", a field she helped create. Computer science has come to be a research-oriented field, but initially it was the way to produce graduates who could program. StarryGrandma (talk) 21:05, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
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