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An artifact is information that is not related to an object being represented. Common examples of artifacts include:

  • in digital photos, pixels with a colour that does not correspond to the light captured from the scene that was photographed (e.g. JPEG artifacts),
  • hissing noise in analogue radio.

Artifacts in Software Engineering

The term "artifact" has been adopted as a synonym of product or result of software development. This is unfortunate for at least two reasons: (1) The result of software development is (hopefully!) the information intended, not information distorted by any artifact and (2) the common root of the words "art" and "artifact" is suggestive of the (somewhat fashionable) notion that software development is some kind of art. The latter suggestion is misleading because while software development involves substantial creativity, the value of any software system is based upon the information that the software developer has abstracted from the problem domain, not in the artifacts (as defined above) that the developer may have introduced.