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Software Characteristics – Software Engineering

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Software is defined as a collection of computer programs, procedures, rules, and data. Software Characteristics are classified into six major components. Software engineering is the process of designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software. In this article, we will look into the characteristics of Software in detail. We have also discussed each component of Software characteristics in detail.

The characteristics of the software include:

  • It is intangible, meaning it cannot be seen or touched.
  • It is non-perishable, meaning it does not degrade over time.
  • It is easy to replicate, meaning it can be copied and distributed easily.
  • It can be complex, meaning it can have many interrelated parts and features.
  • It can be difficult to understand and modify, especially for large and complex systems.
  • It can be affected by changing requirements, meaning it may need to be updated or modified as the needs of users change.
  • It can be impacted by bugs and other issues, meaning it may need to be tested and debugged to ensure it works as intended.
Software Characteristics

Software Characteristics

Components of Software Characteristics:

There are basically 6 components of Software Characteristics that are discussed here. We will discuss each one of them in detail.


It refers to the degree of performance of the software against its intended purpose. 

Functionality refers to the set of features and capabilities that a software program or system provides to its users. It is one of the most important characteristics of software, as it determines the usefulness of the software for the intended purpose. Examples of functionality in software include:

  • Data storage and retrieval
  • Data processing and manipulation
  • User interface and navigation
  • Communication and networking
  • Security and access control
  • Reporting and visualization
  • Automation and scripting

The more functionality a software has, the more powerful and versatile it is, but also the more complex it can be. It is important to balance the need for functionality with the need for ease of use, maintainability, and scalability.

Required functions are:




A set of attributes that bears on the capability of software to maintain its level of performance under the given condition for a stated period of time. 

Reliability is a characteristic of software that refers to its ability to perform its intended functions correctly and consistently over time. Reliability is an important aspect of software quality, as it helps ensure that the software will work correctly and not fail unexpectedly.

Examples of factors that can affect the reliability of software include:

  1. Bugs and errors in the code
  2. Lack of testing and validation
  3. Poorly designed algorithms and data structures
  4. Inadequate error handling and recovery
  5. Incompatibilities with other software or hardware

To improve the reliability of software, various techniques, and methodologies can be used, such as testing and validation, formal verification, and fault tolerance.

Software is considered reliable when the probability of it failing is low and it is able to recover from the failure quickly, if any.
Required functions are: 




It refers to the ability of the software to use system resources in the most effective and efficient manner. The software should make effective use of storage space and executive command as per desired timing requirements. 

Efficiency is a characteristic of software that refers to its ability to use resources such as memory, processing power, and network bandwidth in an optimal way. High efficiency means that a software program can perform its intended functions quickly and with minimal use of resources, while low efficiency means that a software program may be slow or consume excessive resources.

Examples of factors that can affect the efficiency of the software include:

  1. Poorly designed algorithms and data structures
  2. Inefficient use of memory and processing power
  3. High network latency or bandwidth usage
  4. Unnecessary processing or computation
  5. Unoptimized code

To improve the efficiency of software, various techniques, and methodologies can be used, such as performance analysis, optimization, and profiling.

Efficiency is important in software systems that are resource-constrained, high-performance, and real-time systems. It is also important in systems that need to handle many users or transactions simultaneously.
Required functions are: 




It refers to the extent to which the software can be used with ease. the amount of effort or time required to learn how to use the software. 
Required functions are: 




It refers to the ease with which modifications can be made in a software system to extend its functionality, improve its performance, or correct errors. 
Required functions are: 




A set of attributes that bears on the ability of software to be transferred from one environment to another, without minimum changes. 

Required functions are: 



Characteristics of “Software” in Software Engineering:

  • Software is developed or engineered; it is not manufactured in the classical sense:
    • Although some similarities exist between software development and hardware manufacturing, few activities are fundamentally different.
    • In both activities, high quality is achieved through good design, but the manufacturing phase for hardware can introduce quality problems than software.
  • The software doesn’t “wear out.”:
    • Hardware components suffer from the growing effects of many other environmental factors. Stated simply, the hardware begins to wear out.
    • Software is not susceptible to the environmental maladies that cause hardware to wear out.
    • When a hardware component wears out, it is replaced by a spare part.
    • There are no software spare parts.
    • Every software failure indicates an error in design or in the process through which the design was translated into machine-executable code. Therefore, the software maintenance tasks that accommodate requests for change involve considerably more complexity than hardware maintenance. However, the implication is clear—the software doesn’t wear out. But it does deteriorate.
  • The software continues to be custom-built:
    • A software part should be planned and carried out with the goal that it tends to be reused in various projects.
    • Current reusable segments encapsulate the two pieces of information and the preparation that is applied to the information, empowering the programmer to make new applications from reusable parts.
    • In the hardware world, component reuse is a natural part of the engineering process.

Questions For Practice:

1. The diagram that helps in understanding and representing user requirements for a software project using UML (Unified Modeling Language) is [GATE CS 2004]

(A) ER Diagram

(B) Deployment Diagram

(C) Data Flow Diagram

(D) Use Case Diagram

Solution: Correct answer is (D).

2. In the spiral model of software development, the primary determinant in selecting activities in each iteration is

(A) Iteration Size

(B) Cost

(C) Adopted Process such as Relational Unified Process or Extreme Programming

(D) Risk

Solution: Correct Answer is (C).

FAQs on Software Characteristics:

1. What are the characteristics of Software Engineering?


The characteristics of Software Engineering are mentioned below.

  • Functionality
  • Reliability
  • Efficiency
  • Maintainability
  • Usability
  • Portability

2. What is the role of Software in Computers?


The role of Software in Computers is to accomplish the input, output, storage, and control activities of information systems.

3. How does Software Work?


The Software works by executing the commands provided by the user. These are the commands which are used as inputs, by the user.

Last Updated : 21 Dec, 2023
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