Standard Article

Software Safety

  1. Andrew J. Kornecki

Published Online: 15 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470050118.ecse400

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

How to Cite

Kornecki, A. J. 2008. Software Safety. Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering. 1–13.

Author Information

  1. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2008


Safety is a property of a system that ensures it will provide harmless operation. Safe systems do not jeopardize human life, endanger property, or put the environment at risk. Because of the progress'of technology and the proliferation of computers in everyday life, modern systems are increasingly software intensive. Computers control everything possible from microwave covens to complex weapon systems. Certainly, software may introduce safety risks because of nature of the system that it controls. When systems experience failures because of faulty software—and this failure leads to safety violations—serious questions are raised. Despite the risks, software increasingly is making its way into safety-critical systems.

Software must be evaluated early for its contribution to the safety of the system: during the concept phase and before the acquisition or development of the software. The term “software safety” is related to the software-focused features and measures that provide assurance that (a) a system performs predictably under normal and abnormal conditions and (b) the probability of unintended events is minimized. consequences are controlled. The discipline of software safety is the systematic approach to identifying, analyzing, and tracking hazardous functions implemented by software, as well as software-based mitigation and control of hazards to ensure safer software operation within a system.

The article describes the concepts and methods related to software safety: hazards, risks, fault tolerance, error propagations and handling, safety in the development lifecycle, safety requirements, design methodologies, implementation considerations, verification and validation, standards, and certification.


  • hazard and risk analysis;
  • fault tolerance;
  • design diversity;
  • safety-critical systems;
  • safety in the lifecycle;
  • standards and guidelines;
  • certification