Software engineering (SE) is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software. The term software engineering was popularized during the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference (held in Garmisch, Germany) by its chairman F.L. Bauer, and has been in widespread use since. The discipline of software engineering encompasses knowledge, tools, and methods for defining software requirements, and performing software design, software construction, software testing, and software maintenance tasks. Software engineering also draws on knowledge from fields such as computer engineering, computer science, management, mathematics, project management, quality management, software ergonomics, and systems engineering.
As of 2004, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts 760,840 software engineers holding jobs in the U.S.; for comparison, in the U.S. there are some 1.4 million practitioners employed in all other engineering disciplines combined. The term software engineer is used very liberally in the corporate world. Very few of the practicing software engineers actually hold engineering degrees from accredited universities. There are estimated to be about 1.5 million practitioners in the E.U., Asia, and elsewhere. SE pioneers include Barry Boehm, Fred Brooks, C. A. R. Hoare, and David Parnas.