What’s New

Current Projects




Hilliard is one of the rare English matronymic names, derived from the Norman female given name Hildiarde or Hildegard, comprised of Germanic elements hild = battle, strife + gard = fortress, strength. Variations include Hilleard, Hillyard, and Hildyard.

what’s new/upcoming

Engineering Disciplines
I'm chairing the Engineering Disciplines Committee of the Professional & Educational Activities Board of the IEEE Computer Society. Areas of interest: SWEBoK, SEBoK, BKCASE
ICSA 2017:
3–7 April 2017, Gothenburg, SWEDEN
Architecture Description Conformity Assessment
New conformity assessment scheme for architecture frameworks and architecture description languages via ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010
All About ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010
Updated overview of the architecture description standard

current projects

In my life as an architect, I find that the single thing which inhibits young professionals, new students most severely, is their acceptance of standards that are too low.

— Christopher Alexander

A current interest is “concerns”, as in separation of concerns, as first-class entities in architecting. See recent items, including: In search of the Higgs, or What’s wrong with SEMAT? and Lessons from the fundamental unity of architecting in Software Engineering in the Systems Context, editors: Ivar Jacobson and Harold 'Bud' Lawson, 2015.
Architecture Evaluation
New work item of WG 42 to develop an international standard for evaluation of software, system and enterprise architectures. Why 42?
ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010 (IEEE Std 1471)
Since 1995, I’ve been involved with IEEE’s architecture description standard (IEEE Std 1471), now the international standard, ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010. You might even want to join the Users Group.
IFIP Working Group 2.10, Software Architecture
I am a member of IFIP WG 2.10 which meets a couple times a year, to debate, discuss and otherwise hob-nob on issues software architectural. IFIP WG 2.10 operates the Software Architecture Portal. Check it out.
a markup language for architecture description, is a free software project to develop XML document types.
“Things we’ve forgotten...”
Some of my colleagues, old software engineers like me, have observed that ideas which were at the core of collective engineering consciousness 20 to 30 years ago, just aren’t around any more! We thought it deserved a paper, or a blog (stay tuned).

recent activities

Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules–still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.

— Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Free Software Foundation’s 30th Birthday Party
FSF 30th Saturday, 3 October 2015
Experimental Study Group 45th Anniversary Celebration
MIT, 7 June 2015
WICSA 2015
4–8 May 2015, Montréal, CANADA
Trends in Systems and Software Variability
A special issue of IEEE Software, May–June 2015
Architecture sustainability
IEEE Software, special issue, Nov–Dec 2013
Surveying the Twin Peaks
My talk at 2nd International Workshop on the Twin Peaks of Requirements and Architecture, during ICSE, 21 May 2013, San Francisco, and here are the [slides].
I hope to elaborate on these ideas in the near future.
Framing Stakeholders’ Concerns
Special issue of IEEE Software, Nov–Dec 2010

what’s cool

Idle tools are the Devil’s hands.

— Jay Edelman (1973?)

My MIT undergraduate time (1972–1976) was shaped by three interests on campus: the MIT Experimental Study Group (ESG), MIT linguistics, and MIT folk-dancing. All three activities continue at MIT. More about linguistics and Balkan folk-dancing in the future; MIT ESG continues as an undergraduate program at MIT, and I’m on ESG’s Alumni Steering Committee.

Douglas T. Ross was one of the great thinkers in software engineering. Doug passed away in January 2007. Aside from a few archival publications, little of his most interesting work is widely available. So it good to have the following link: Applied Understanding Technology. I hope to write more about Doug’s contributions in the future.

Rich Hilliard and Kris Younger, circa 1986

Links to some valued friends and colleagues:

In an earlier work life, which shall not be named, I and my colleagues found ourselves confronting many administrative obstacles to progress. We needed to find a way to go on. So we coined a phase: if you can’t work, just parody. We were not alone:

RTmark | Firesign Theatre
NRH on the pitch. Go MDI!


You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

— Frank Zappa

New England Revolution

social studies

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. And then you win.

— Gandhi

Undiscriminating executions or punishments, without definite findings of guilt fairly arrived at, would not fit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride.

— Harry Truman

Some links on politics and social studies.

imaginary property

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

— Niccolo Machiavelli

The GNU Project

Fair Use Project

Patent Absurdity is a half-hour film, using the Bilski case as a backdrop to explain the problems caused by software patents and how software became patentable in the USA. http://patentabsurdity.com/

linguistics and cognition

I don’t get to spend much time thinking about these topics lately, but here’s a link to my new favorite blog:
Faculty of Language


RFH III at the piano

I wish those musicians would not allow themselves any repetitions, and would go faster in developing their ideas or their findings, because I don’t appreciate at all this permanent repetitive language. It is like someone who is stuttering all the time, and can’t get words out of his mouth. I think musicians should have very concise figures and not rely on this fashionable psychology. I don’t like psychology whatsoever: using music like a drug is stupid. One shouldn’t do that: music is the product of the highest human intelligence, and of the best senses, the listening senses and of imagination and intuition. And as soon as it becomes just a means for ambiance, as we say, environment, or for being used for certain purposes, then music becomes a whore, and one should not allow that really; one should not serve any existing demands or in particular not commercial values. That would be terrible: that is selling out the music.

— Karlheinz Stockhausen

I listen to, collect, and sometimes even make music. [More music]

Here's The Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet playing some cool jazz, 6 June 2013 at College of the Atlantic Live at the Gates Auditorium

mathematical methods

It is a good day when I get to use some math. Here are some useful links. Here’s a math joke:

A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she’s omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he’s a logician), he asks, “What is the best question to ask? and What is the correct answer to that question?

The tiny alien pauses. Finally, she replies, “The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave.”

Updated: Rich Hilliard