CS 4873C Spring'21


Computing, Society, & Professionalism


Schedule and Readings


Term Paper

View the Site on GitHub blairmacintyre/cs4873-s21

Homework 1: Therac and the Boeing 737 MAX

Due Date: Mon Feb 1 at 11:59pm
Format: Approximately 3 pages, double spaced, 12 pt font
Grading criteria: Completeness
Insight into issues

In late 2018 and early 2019, two Boeing 737-MAX aircraft crashed. The cause was a software bug. For this homework, please research what caused those crashes and answer these questions:

  1. Briefly describe the technical cause of the crashes
  2. Pick three of the ‘causal factors’ from section 4 of Nancy Leveson’s article “Medical Devices: The Therac-25” that you believe are also relevant to the Boeing accidents. For each, explain in detail how that factor applies in the case of the 737 MAX. Discuss how the situations are alike and different with respect to that factor. (Suggested about half a page each).

Please explicitly name the three causal factors from Leveson that you are applying to the 737 Max.

Please include at least three references, in APA format. It’s OK for this assignment if they are articles in the popular press or blog posts. Later in the term we will do research focused on peer-reviewed sources.