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Test and Evaluation of Complex Systems.

This book is part of a series produced by Wiley, in Measurement Science and Technology. As such, it will appeal to those readers whose academic and teaching interests are more focused on the technical rather than the managerial aspects of product and system design.

The book itself is quite concise, containing just eight short chapters and four appendices. Chapter 1 concentrates on defining testing and evaluation as "the measurement and performance of a system". The emphasis in the book is to use testing to reduce product development risk. This section is illustrated by photographs of testing experiments in progress on diverse products, such as air traffic control systems, gas fires and life preservers. Although the pictures break up the text, they do not add much to the learning aspects of the book.

Chapter 2 defines different types of testing and relates them to a conventional development life-cycle concept. Some of these types are discussed very briefly and the book really only highlights scope for their existence.

The third chapter looks at the history of testing, and then looks at commercial testing. This becomes one of the most interesting sections of the book, as it looks at user involvement within testing and takes a look at the issues involved in the testing of children's toys. This is one of the few examples of testing outside of engineering and aerospace. One of the largest sections of the book then concentrates, in some detail, on testing policy in US defence. The section reveals the US perspective of the book. Although the author has tried to include a number of non-US examples elsewhere, they do not convey much depth and are merely present to provide balance.

The next three chapters contain most of the technical detail in the book. Chapter 4 looks at the testing process, including planning and resource management. Chapter 5 takes a systematic look at the need for documentation procedures, and contains a number of useful lists identifying aspects such as test problems, important sections in test reports, etc. Finally, chapter 6 contains descriptions of testing techniques such as modelling and simulation, live fire testing and life testing. Each one is described clearly and simply.

From a managerial perspective, chapter 7 is probably the most obviously useful, as it contains examples of seven best practices within testing. This chapter is very short and could probably be developed further. After a short chapter which looks at the future of testing, the book contains substantial appendices which contain basic information such as sources of standards and sample master plans.

Overall, the book gives a very clear insight into testing and evaluation from a practical perspective. It is very focused and keeps to a largely technical perspective. The book may be a good library source for engineering students, who might study aspects of testing. It is also worth referring to some of the examples when discussing project management and especially risk management aspects of projects. However, the book could develop ideas about managing testing operations and this would enhance its general appeal.

Paul Walley Warwick Business School

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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Walley, Paul
Publication:International Journal of Operations & Production Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1997
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