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Harvard

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Engineering

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Math Problem

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# Reengineering of Legacy Systems vs. Development of New Systems: A Mathematical Model (Math Problem Sample)

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Reengineering of Legacy Systems vs. Development of New Systems: A Mathematical Model

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Reengineering of Legacy Systems vs. Development of New Systems: A Mathematical Model

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Reengineering of Legacy Systems vs. Development of New Systems: A Mathematical Model

Statement of the Problem

Though a lot of literature exists on the merits and demerits of reengineering legacy systems as opposed to developing new ones, no clear mathematical model exists to help computer scientists weigh the better of the two approaches. Sometimes, reengineering is the best solution; at other times, developing new systems becomes the most desirable solution. There exists a lot of literature on how to weigh the advantages of each option and to decide which of the two best suits the problem at hand. However, in the final analysis, the decision arrived at is based on rational thinking processes without application of a single rationally conceptualized mathematical model that can increase confidence in the decision.

Literature Review

Software engineering started as an informal art; without an emphasis on formal methodologies of implementing software systems. However, new advances in the field of computer science have seen the emergence of a culture of inclination towards formal concepts in the development and maintenance of software systems. The process of reengineering legacy systems has also gained considerable attention with various computer scientists developing conceptualized models to help in the effective realization of this process. However, the process of deciding whether to reengineer available legacy systems or to develop new ones is largely informal.

This process is based on several factors and is highly dependent on the particular situation being considered. It involves consideration of the merits and demerits of each approach. Another reason why reengineering a legacy system may be chosen over development of a new system is to minimize costs. In some cases, the costs involved in reengineering an already existing system are lower than those incurred in developing a brand new system (Seacord, Plakosh and Lewis, 2003). The change required may be minimal and may require a simple approach. Thus, the engineering process may be less time consuming (Arnold, 2006). Further, there may be minimal or no costs involved in training new personnel to adapt to the reengineered system. Yet another advantage of reengineering legacy systems is that reliability and maintainability may also be enhanced (Radhakrishnan and Balasubramanian, 2008).

However, many demerits are associated with reengineering of existing systems. One of the major reasons why legacy systems continue to be used is because of the existence of “invisible business application procedures and logic that are built into the software” (Radhakrishnan and Balasubramanian, 2008, pp.207). Some legacy systems are used simply because the underlying technology is too complicated; the system’s code may involve complex algorithms that are mostly undocumented and/or extremely difficult to understand, thus making the system inflexible. If the changes required in such a system are extensive, reengineering may become a complex, sometimes impossible, process. This may call for the development of a new system. In such a case, reengineering costs may far outweigh the costs involved in building a brand new system.

Reengineering is also associated with several inherent risks. These risks have to do with individuals, strategies, tools, processes as well as the field of reengineering involved (Sage and Rouse, 2009). For instance, in certain situations “the risk of failure is usually too great for organizations to seriously contemplate a redevelopment approach” (Bisbal, Lawless, Bing and Grimson, 2002, pp. 105). Since the ultimate aim of reengineering is to improve on the system’s functionality and quality, if the risk of achieving a decrease in either of these two parameters is too high, reengineering may be discarded and a completely new system developed.

Aim of the Research Project

Given the merits and demerits associated with adopting a reengineering strategy, a decision has to be made on which of the two strategies is the best and most convenient for a particular application. The ultimate aim of the research is to come up with a mathematical model that can be used in this important decision making process. Each of the major advantages and disadvantages can be treated as a variable and may be assigned a mathematical notation that can be determined by a mathematical formula. An appropriate formula can then be derived from t...

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