The Evolution of Empiricism in Software Engineering: A Personal Perspective

Although most scientific and engineering disciplines view empiricism as a basic element of their discipline, that view has not been the tradition in software engineering. There has not been the symbiotic relationship between the development of theories and engineering concepts and empirical studies that test and evolve those theories and concepts.

This talk discusses of the evolution of empiricism in the software engineering discipline since the early 70s with respect to the kinds of studies that were being performed, the set of methods being used, the nature of the publications, the community of empirical researchers, the status of replications and meta-analysis, and the role of context variables. It offers a personal, historical perspective of the evolution of empirical studies through a series of example applications that demonstrate the various roles that empiricism can play and what we have learned. The examples are taken from studies in which the speaker was involved. It offers a set of criticisms as to where we have fallen short, suggestions on what we need to do, and the barriers we face in achieving a true engineering discipline that can continue to evolve our knowledge and demonstrate the impact of the research.

Dr. Victor R. Basili is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a PH.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas and is a recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Sannio, Italy (2004) and  the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany (2005). He was Founding Director of the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering – Maryland and a founding director of the Software Engineering Laboratory (SEL) at NASA/GSFC.  He has worked on measuring, evaluating, and improving the software development process and product using methods that include Iterative Enhancement, the Goal Question Metric Approach (GQM), the Quality Improvement Paradigm (QIP), the Experience Factory (EF), and the GQM+Strategies Approach for aligning business

Dr. Basili is a recipient of several awards including several NASA Group Achievement Awards, the 2000 Outstanding Research Award from ACM SIGSOFT, the IEEE Computer Society 2003 Harlan Mills Award, and the Fraunhofer Medal.  He has authored over 250 journal and refereed conference papers, has served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE TSE and the Springer Journal of Empirical Software Engineering. He is an IEEE and ACM Fellow.


“Sensible, invisible, sometimes tolerant, heterogeneous, decentralized and interoperable… and we still need to assure their quality…”

Contemporary software systems present properties that add to those ones usually observed in conventional software. Features concerned with omnipresence of services, capture of experiences and intentions, adaptation to behavior, decentralization, services discovery, heterogeneity of services and devices, interoperability, minimum user intervention and fault tolerance normally emerge in this technological scenario. In general, these software systems interact with actors (not just humans) and are sensitive to the context. In other words, they perceive (capture) the context and use it as a behavioral guide to support the actor-computer interaction.

To assure the quality of any software is vital, considering its role in supporting  daily mankind activities. However, carrying out the verification and validation (testing) of these contemporary software systems turns into a challenge, considering that the available technologies, in general, have been not developed to deal and/or consider these features.

This keynote aims at discussing these quality issues. Taking as basis evidence obtained from researches performed by the Experimental Software Engineering Group at COPPE/UFRJ and more recently in the context of CNPq Project (484380/2013-3) CAcTUS – Context Sensitive Tests for Ubiquitous Systems, challenges for research and practice will be presented to the audience.

Guilherme H. Travassos holds a B.Sc. Eng. (Electrical Engineering, 1985) at Federal University of Juiz de Fora, a Master (1990) and D.Sc. (1994) in Systems Engineering and Computer Science (Software Engineering) at COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He carried out his Post-Doctorate at the University of Maryland-College Park along with the SEL/NASA (USA – 1998-2000), focusing his activities on experimentation in Software Engineering and product software lines for spacecrafts. He is currently a professor in the Systems Engineering and Computer Science Program (PESC) of COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Prof. Travassos is a CNPq 1D Researcher. His researches’ interests are concerned with Experimental Software Engineering, acting mainly in the following themes: software quality (VV&T), science in large scale, engineering of Web applications and ubiquitous systems, simulation in software engineering, environments and tools to support the development and experimentation in software. Additionally, he leads the Experimental Software Engineering Group at COPPE/UFRJ and is member of the International Software Engineering Research Network – ISERN. He is also a member of the Brazilian Computer Society – SBC and a professional member of the Association for Computer Machinery – ACM. He is an associated editor of Elsevier – Information and Software Technology (IST) Journal and takes part in the editorial board of SpringerOpen – Journal of Software Engineering Research and Development (JSERD) and World Scientific – International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering (IJSEKE). He intensively collaborates with the software industry through research and development projects executed at COPPE/UFRJ. A list of his publications can be found at https://scholar.google.com.br/citations?user=hn4LDmkAAAAJ&hl=pt-BR&oi=ao. The complete CV (in Portuguese) is available at CNPq Lattes Platform: http://lattes.cnpq.br/7541486051032916

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Predicting the overall value of decisions relating to software product/project management

In today’s cutthroat product and services industries, software has become the main driver for competitive advantage, enabling faster and cheaper innovation and product differentiation with no domain restriction. As the size and complexity of software-based solutions increase, so does the impact of software development decisions on the overall product offering. That is, any decision taken regarding software product/project management and development (e.g. what features to design, what level of quality to offer, or which technology to choose) will impact the entire product’s/project’s life cycle and value, not to mention that it limits future possibilities and direction of both the software and the business.

Numerous companies worldwide deliver software intensive products and services. One of their major challenges is caused by most often taking product/project management decisions considering only the short-term costs (cost estimates) while ignoring long-term value aspects for the business, for example sustainability and innovation. To sustain growth, maintain competitive advantage and to innovate, such companies must make a paradigm shift by also adopting long-term value aspects in order to guide their decision-making. Such need is clearly pressing in innovative industries, such as ICT and Digital Services.

The goal of this talk is to present a value-based software engineering framework that enables companies to co-create prediction models to provide estimates of the overall value of decision scenarios relating to software product/project management within the domains of ICT and digital services, and “what-if” scenarios that can be compared and contrasted, thus enabling better decision-making and contributing to enhanced decision makers’ mental models (tacit knowledge).

Emilia Mendes is Professor in Software Engineering at the Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden). She obtained her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Southampton (UK) in 1999, and then initiated her full time academic career at the Computer Science Department at the University of Auckland (NZ), where she worked for 12 years. After leaving NZ, and prior to moving to Sweden, she was Associate Professor at Zayed University (UAE) for a year. Her research is inter-disciplinary, encompassing four disciplines – Computer Science, Empirical Software & Web Engineering, IT/Computer Science & Software/Web Engineering education, and Hypertext. To date she has published over 200 refereed publications, which include three books (one edited (2005 – Web Engineering) and two authored (2007 – Cost Estimation Techniques for Web Projects; 2014 – Practitioner’s Knowledge Representation: a pathway to improve software effort estimation)). She worked in  the ICT industry for ten years as programmer, business analyst and project manager prior to moving to the UK in the end of 1995 to initiate her PhD studies.