Some pointers to interesting research presented on the third –and last– day of the International Conference on Software Engineering:
- Information needs of software teams: Andrew Ko reported on a nice paper about the kinds of information needed by developers in a Microsoft team. The list of “information needs” that the study offers can easily be treated as a very comprehensive set of urgent human aspects research in software development. (You can access the paper, and the list, in Andrew’s website).
- Pair programming: Jan Chong presented a very insightful ethnographic study of pair programming. One of the most striking take-away messages were that having two keyboards makes a huge difference in the dynamic of the pair. (The paper, as well, is available in Jan’s website).
- Roles in open source: Chris Jensen discussed the ‘advancement’ of roles of open source developers, from his trawling the archives of three major OSS projects. (Yup, the paper is in his website too.)
- Requirements engineering research directions: Betty Cheng presented a list of challenges for future requirements engineering research. Issues of scale, self-managing systems, and tolerance of software of non-provable reliability were thrown in the mix.
- Programming environments: Andreas Zeller set a vision of programming environments that join several tools that developers depend on –bug databases, version control, e-mail, chat, requirements descriptions, etc.– and mines their data to find useful, non-intrusive information.
- Search-based software engineering: In what for me was one of the few “so wacky it could work” talks in this conference, Mark Harman convincingly argued that search-based approaches –such as genetic algorithms– for find good solutions to software engineering problems is a viable strategy (“not a silver bullet, but at least a machine gun with lots of nickel bullets”) .
- Empirical software engineering: Lionel Briand presented a paper by Dag Sjoberg & Co. on the future of empirical methods in software engineering. The need for third-party evaluation of proposals was made evident: when evaluation studies are conducted by the proponents of the technology, the results are almost always positive. When they are conducted by a different party, they are almost always negative. Although Briand did a great job presenting the paper, I was disappointed that I was not able to meet its authors, whose researched I’ve blogged about before. Apparently, the presenter was denied entry to the US for some minor problem with his passport. Way to go. Fortunately, the next two ICSEs will take place out of the US (Germany in 2008, and Canada in 2009), and away from overzealous immigration officers.
That was it for the conference. It was an extremely productive week, but I’m tired, homesick and glad to be heading back home!