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FSE 2016 Panel: The State of Software Engineering Research

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A companion blogpost is available here: http://margaretstorey.com/blog/2016/12/01/fse2016panel/
The panel is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sE_jX92jJr8

Abstract: As software becomes more ubiquitous and pervasive in today’s interconnected and instrumented world, software engineering—as a practice and as a research topic—is having a hard time keeping up. In this panel, we invite FSE 2016’s participants to engage with five prominent software engineering researchers as they reflect on the state of current software engineering research and share how they each believe our work impacts (or should impact) science, society and industry. Our panelists will discuss whether our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering and design in its combined research efforts. This lively and interactive panel discussion will also highlight new areas of research that our community should pay more attention to, as well as suggest new ways of conducting research that could improve the impact of software engineering research in the near and distant future.

Panelists:
Lionel Briand, University of Luxembourg
Prem Devanbu, University of California at Davis
Peri Tarr, IBM Research
Laurie Williams, North Carolina State University
Tao Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Moderator:
Margaret-Anne Storey, University of Victoria

Published in: Software
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FSE 2016 Panel: The State of Software Engineering Research

  1. 1. On Twitter! #FSEconf #panel Broadcast on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sE_jX92jJr8 Continue the discussion at: http://margaretstorey.com/blog/2016/12/01/fse2016panel/ FSE 2016 Panel: The State of Software Engineering Research Lionel Briand, University of Luxembourg Prem Devanbu, University of California at Davis Peri Tarr, IBM Research Laurie Williams, North Carolina State University Tao Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Moderator: Margaret-Anne (Peggy) Storey, University of Victoria
  2. 2. Goal of the panel! To discuss and reflect on the state of current software engineering research and how we believe our work impacts (or should impact) science, society and industry…
  3. 3. Our panelists!
  4. 4. Kickstarting the discussion: 1. Do you believe our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering and design in our combined research efforts? 2. What new or existing areas of research do you think our community should pay more attention to? 3. Do you have novel suggestions for how we could improve our research methods to increase the impact of software engineering research in the near and distant future?
  5. 5. Panelist: Tao Xie • Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign • Automated software testing, mobile security, software analytics • ACM distinguished researcher Tao Xie
  6. 6. Societal Impact ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Join us at the next Tapia Conference in Atlanta, GA on September 20-23, 2017! Submission Deadline: Jan 29, 2017 http://tapiaconference.org/ Margaret Burnett: “Womenomics & Gender-Inclusive Software” “Because anybody who thinks that we’re just here because we’re smart forgets that we’re also privileged, and we have to extend that farther. So we’ve got to educate and help every generation and we all have to keep it up in lots of ways.” – David Notkin, 1955-2013 Andy Ko: “Why the Software Industry Needs Computing Education Research” Tao Xie
  7. 7. Impact on Research Communities Beyond SE Representational State Transfer (REST) as a key architectural principle of WWW (2000) Related to funding/head-count allocation, student recruitment, … à community growth Roy Fielding Richard Taylor … Andreas Zeller Delta debugging (1999)Symbolic execution (1976) also by James King, William Howden, Karl Levitt, et al. Lori Clarke Tao Xie
  8. 8. Practice Impact • Diverse/balanced research styles shall/can be embraced • Our community already well appreciates impact on other researchers, e.g., SIGSOFT Impact Awards, ICSE MIP, paper citations • But often insufficient effort for last mileage or focus on real problems • Strong need of ecosystem to incentivize practice impact pursued by researchers • Top down: • Bottom up: • Conference PC for reviewing papers • Impact counterpart of “highly novel ideas”? • Impact counterpart of “artifact evaluation”? • Promote and recognize practice impact • Counterpart of ACM Software System Award? Tao Xie
  9. 9. Panelist: Laurie Williams • Professor at North Carolina State University • Software security, testing, agile programming • Founded the XP/Agile conference
  10. 10. The State of Software Engineering Research Laurie Williams North Carolina State University
  11. 11. Software Engineering Research • Software is pervasive and ubiquitous • The world is increasingly interconnected and instrumented • What role do we play? • How do we keep up? • In our work, we must EMBRACE the REALITY of this world and seek to make it better. Laurie Williams
  12. 12. Reality: Attackers Unceasing • Breaches and attacks are a daily event • Users accidently act insecurely, click on things • More insecure software produced every day • How can we develop software that protects users from themselves? • How can we provides methods and tools to help developers produce more secure code without disrupting their work flow too much? • Cybersecurity impacts every line of research. Laurie Williams
  13. 13. Reality: Rapid deployment • Companies like Google, Netflix, Facebook deploy software multiple times per day • Many companies are adopting these continuous deployment practices as much as possible • Developers test their own code • Code is tested in production • Requirements are analyzed through experimentation with actual users • Continuous deployment impacts every line of research Laurie Williams
  14. 14. Panelist: Peri Tarr • Principal research staff member at IBM TJ Watson’s Lab and technical lead for cognitive tools and methods at IBM • Software composition, aspect oriented software development • ICSE influential paper award on separation of concerns
  15. 15. A view from the front lines Peri Tarr, tarr@us.ibm.com Principal Research Staff Member, IBM Research Special thanks to: Brent Hailpern, Harold Ossher, Stan Sutton All opinions are mine and need not reflect IBM’s perspective State of Software Engineering Research
  16. 16. Software Engineering Research From the Great State of SE Research… State of the ArtState of the Practice Stronger software together!Make software great! Peri Tarr
  17. 17. Competitive Differentiator Spend $$ è Increased profit Investment (value creation) Cost of Doing Business Spend $$ è Lower profit Expense (cost center) The world is changed. I feel it in SOTP…but not yet in SOTA • Software has crossed from “competitive differentiator” to “cost of doing business” • Significant commoditization exists in areas where SE research has been prominent • Practitioners driving many aspects of software lifecycle…not looking to research for (much) help • In many places, the business case for SE research has changed substantially as a result • In traditional SE, it’s reducing costs, not creating value • The changing world offers many opportunities for SE to create new value 17 “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” ~ Lord of the Rings commoditization Business lifetime of a good idea Peri Tarr
  18. 18. The sun sets to rise again, on a world needing SE research. (Bigly.) • Many high-impact, societally important, value-creation areas have come of age • Cognitive, health care, environment, education, quality of life, economics, security, … • Critical problems and solutions are in their intersection with SE • SE research is needed desperately in the intersection of these areas! • Some of these are headed for the software crisis cliff (or already falling off it) • +Education in relevant areas! (ML, analytics, distributed systems, HCI, cloud, ethics, robotics, …) 18 “Must in death your daylight finish? My sun sets to rise again.” ~ Robert Browning Competitive Differentiator New areas, need driving by research Cost of Doing Business Traditional areas, driven by SOTP Competitive Differentiator New areas, high potential for impact Invest more heavily here. Cost of Doing Business Traditional SE areas, now SOTP driven Declare success. Limit research investment As the world changes, our research investments must change with it Peri Tarr
  19. 19. Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger. (If not us, who?) • Researchers are paid to take bigger risks that may lead to bigger rewards • Some good, impactful research is coming out of our community • Also some very incremental research—well executed, but unlikely to have major impact • People doing SE today face huge impediments and real-world constraints • Increasingly, people who are not traditional developers are doing development • Their solutions must be cloud-scale, mobile, social, highly usable and personalized, big data, etc. • There is an abundance of real problems needing real research and real-world solutions • Does your research problem matter? Is the solution useful? Know the business case. • The world needs us to dream a little bigger, in areas with higher value-creation opportunities • Mind the SOTA/SOTP gap! 19 "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” ~ Inception Peri Tarr
  20. 20. Summary • The world SE research benefits has changed. We’re at an inflection point. • Many traditional areas have become commoditized. (Business case: cost savings) • New, high-impact areas have appeared or come of age. (Business case: value generation) • How it has changed needs to affect our research. • Put significant research emphasis on “value-generation” areas. Many are in the intersection of critical societal issues and SE. • Don’t be afraid to declare success in areas where practitioners are running with the ball. • Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger. (If not us, who?) But don’t hallucinate! • Researchers are paid to take bigger risks in search of bigger rewards. • People doing SE today face many significant challenges. There is an abundance of real problems needing real research and useful solutions that meet real-world constraints. • The SOTA/SOTP gap remains difficult to cross. Modern norms may offer opportunities. • Open source provides one potential path to research impact on the SOTP. • Numerous and increasing opportunities for collaborations with practitioners. Peri Tarr
  21. 21. Panelist: Prem Devanbu • Professor at UC Davis, formerly at Bell/AT&T Labs • Empirical software engineering, naturalness of software and diversity of gender • Winner of numerous best paper awards
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  35. 35. Panelist: Lionel Briand • Currently leads the Software Verification and Validation Lab at the University of Luxembourg • He has received the IEEE Harlan Mills Award in 2012 among other awards • Advocates for research that is practical to industry
  36. 36. .lusoftware verification & validation VVS The State of Software Engineering Research Lionel Briand November 16, 2016
  37. 37. Question 1 • Do you believe our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering, and design in its combined research efforts? • Engineering and design aspects do not get nearly enough attention. • We need to devise not only novel, sound solutions but also practical and scalable ones. • Significant variations across domains and contexts. Lionel Briand
  38. 38. Question 2 • What new or existing areas of research do you think our community should pay more attention to? • The problem is not with the areas we focus on, but with the dominant paradigm of academic research. • Research largely disconnected from practical engineering needs and priorities. • We fail to recognize the significant variations across domains and context. • In our discipline, context factors (including human ones), working assumptions, make a huge difference. Lionel Briand
  39. 39. Question 3 • Do you have novel suggestions for how we could improve our research methods to increase the impact of software engineering research in the near and distant future? • More collaborative research with industry, leading to a better definition and prioritization of problems, realistic working assumptions in various application domains, better evaluation of practicality and scalability. • We are not a branch of computer science. We need to accept the fact that industrial (applied) research, driven by practicality and scalability considerations, is a necessary component of an engineering discipline. Lionel Briand
  40. 40. FSE 2016 Audience!
  41. 41. 1. Do you believe our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering and design in our combined research efforts? Zhendong: What is research? What is the purpose of our research community?
  42. 42. 1. Do you believe our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering and design in our combined research efforts? 2. What new or existing areas of research do you think our community should pay more attention to? 3. Do you have novel suggestions for how we could improve our research methods to increase the impact of software engineering research in the near and distant future?
  43. 43. 1. Do you believe our community as a whole is achieving the right balance of science, engineering and design in our combined research efforts? 2. What new or existing areas of research do you think our community should pay more attention to? 3. Do you have novel suggestions for how we could improve our research methods to increase the impact of software engineering research in the near and distant future?
  44. 44. Are we spending too much time studying the past and present, rather then preparing for future of software engineering?
  45. 45. Twitter Feed During the Panel #FSEConf #Panel
  46. 46. Youtube
  47. 47. THANK YOU! The State of Software Engineering Research Lionel Briand, University of Luxembourg Prem Devanbu, University of California at Davis Peri Tarr, IBM Research Laurie Williams, North Carolina State University Tao Xie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Moderator: Margaret-Anne (Peggy) Storey, University of Victoria On Twitter! #FSEconf #panel Broadcast on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sE_jX92jJr8 Continue the discussion at: http://margaretstorey.com/blog/2016/12/01/fse2016panel/

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