Archive for the ‘research horizons’ category


Great Innovative Idea- Speculative Reprogramming

July 9th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 2.50.29 PMThe following Great Innovative Idea is from Marc Palyart at the University of British Columbia, Gail C. Murphy at the Univeristy of British ColumbiaEmerson Murphy-Hill at NC State University, and Xavier Blanc at Bordeaux University.

Their Speculative Reprogramming paper won third place at the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track series at the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), November 16-22, 2014 in Hong Kong.

The Innovative Idea

Software programming today is largely a flat-line activity.  Although a software developer implementing a design makes many choices, such as which library to use, which data structures to use and so on, these choices are seldom captured; the code committed to the repository is typically the final end choice.

To support programming as the tree-like activity it is, we propose speculative reprogramming. In this approach, design and implementation alternatives that arise are explicitly represented and a developer is enabled to easily investigate multiple alternatives for the program.The alternatives that arise may be specified explicitly by the developer, may be captured implicitly as the developer works or may be determined implicitly based on analysis of the program and available resources (e.g., the web or repositories containing list of alternatives).


In speculative reprogramming, tool support makes it easy to explore an alternative path by allowing backtracking to an alternative point and rolling forward of the program as automatically as possible. Tool support also enables automatic analysis of the effect of an alternative decision, say by determining that the performance of the program would be improved with a different alternative. The intent is to make it easier for developers to explore the design space of their programs.

Overall speculative reprogramming would make design choices less definitive and heavy. For example design choices that made sense in the past could be reevaluated and changed in the present context. It would also facilitate quality improvement by supporting low-cost refactorings to reduce part of the technical debt arising during the development.

Other Research

We are interested in making software developers more productive when building software of high-quality. The research we conduct includes investigating trends by mining software repositories, empirically studying programmers at work, developing and testing tools for improving how software development is conducted, and helping developers make more effective use of the tools they already have.

Researcher’s Background

Marc Palyart is a postdoctoral researcher in the Software Practices Lab from the University of British Columbia. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toulouse.

Gail C. Murphy is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia.  She is also Chief Scientist and co-founder of Tasktop Technologies.  She is an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and a member of the Editorial Board of Communications of the ACM.

Emerson Murphy-Hill is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, where he directs the Developer Liberation Front. He is an associate editor of Empirical Software Engineering.

Xavier Blanc is a professor at the University of Bordeaux. He is a member of the LaBRI (Computer Science Laboratory), where he directs the ProgResS research group that focuses on Software Engineering.


Marc Palyart’s website:

Gail Murphy’s website:

Emerson Murphy-Hill’s website:

Xavier Blanc’s website:


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AAAS Technovisual: Art in the Age of Code

July 8th, 2015

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) currently has a three month Technovisual: Art in the Age of Code exhibit on display at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. The exhibit showcases eight artists from across the U.S. who use computer programming and the science of computing to create new experiences and ask new questions.

Artists, as intellectual pioneers, have embraced the unique aesthetic and creative possibilities of computing since the dawn of the Information Age and increasingly apply digital tools with the same fluency as physical ones.

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Please join the AAAS Arts Program tomorrow night, July 9th, from 6:30-8:30pm at AAAS for a “Coding and Creativity” panel discussion. Participants will discuss the Technovisual exhibit and consider the use of simulation, modeling and visualization software by artists and scientists to uncover trends, simulate complex phenomenon and create unique aesthetic experience. If you are interested, please RSVP here.

If you are unable to attend, the exhibit will be on display at AAAS until August 15th, 2015Click here for more information on the show and the AAAS Gallery.

Upcoming CCC Blue Sky Idea Tracks

July 7th, 2015

14392 CCC BlueSky logos_v2-1The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsors an initiative to bring special “Blue Sky Ideas” tracks to leading computer science research conferences. The goal of this initiative is to help conferences reach out beyond the usual research papers that present completed work and to seek out papers that present ideas and visions that can stimulate the research community to pursue new directions.

Conferences may request CCC sponsorship of such tracks along with a CCC grant that provides prize money for the top 3 papers (first prize $1000, second prize $750, and third prize $500), to be awarded as travel grants.

Papers in a “Blue Sky Ideas” track should be open-ended, possibly “outrageous” or “wacky”, and present new problems, new application domains, or new methodologies that are likely to stimulate significant new research.

Here are the upcoming Blue Sky Idea Conference Tracks:

To learn more about Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track, check out the website.


2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

July 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 8.47.39 AMThe 2015 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit will be streamed live from Redmond, Washington on Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 9. This free online event offers keynotes and selected presentations from the Faculty Summit on future trends in computer science research.

This year’s event, which focuses on Artificial Intelligence, includes former Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council Member and now Microsoft Research Managing Director, Eric Horvitz. Eric recently posted a CCC blog post on the Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence.

The Summit will feature three keynote speakers and a panel:

July 8:

July 9:

  • Keynote: A Revolution Against Big-Brother Social Networks 9:00–9:45 A.M. PT (12:00–12:45 P.M. ET):
    Monica Lam, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
  • Closing Keynote 4:30–5:30 P.M. PT (7:30–8:30 P.M. ET):
    Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research

For more information, please see the Faculty Summit 2015 website.

Testimony on “The IRS Data Breach: Steps to Protect Americans’ Personal Information” to Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs

June 16th, 2015


On June 2, our new CCC Council member starting July 1stKevin Fu (Associate Professor, Sloan Research Fellow Computer Science and Engineering Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan) was one of the five witnesses to testify to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs at a hearing on “The IRS Data Break: Steps to Protect Americans’ Personal Information.”

Fu recommend the following to the committee:

Encourage research collaboration between cybersecurity experts and social and behavioral science to carry out human subjects experiments that measure the risks and benefits of knowledge-based authentication.

A transcript of Fu’s oral testimony is here.  Visuals are here.

A list of all the witnesses and their written testimony is available here.


Great Innovative Idea- Known Unknowns: Testing in the Presence of Uncertainty

June 3rd, 2015

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The following Great Innovative Idea is from Sebastian Elbaum, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and David S. Rosenblum, Dean of the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore.

Their paper Known Unknowns: Testing in the Presence of Uncertainty won second place at the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored Blue Sky Ideas Conference Track series at the 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), November 16-22, 2014 in Hong Kong.

The Innovative Idea

Uncertainty is present in most systems we build today, whether introduced by human decisions, machine learning algorithms, external libraries, or sensing variability. This uncertainty leads to occasional misbehavior or incorrect output that is deemed to be acceptable. In the context of software testing, this uncertainty makes it difficult to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable misbehaviors, and to determine when there are faults in the system that are being masked by acceptable misbehaviors. Existing approaches to deal with uncertainty in testing have been partial and of limited scope, leaving the systematic treatment of uncertainty in testing still open.  In the paper, we explore the use of Hidden Markov Models and statistical reasoning about behaviors observed during testing in order to distinguish between acceptable misbehavior and behavioral errors that are due to latent faults.


The idea will allow us to deal better with uncertainty that arises in modern complex software systems in many different forms, such as imprecision in readings from hardware sensors or imprecision in machine learning-based classifiers, and correspondingly in a broad range of applications from human activity recognition to quadcopter stabilization.

Other Research

We both work in testing and analysis of complex software systems.  Sebastian has interests in the development and assessment of automated techniques to improve software dependability. David has interests in the design, verification and testing of distributed systems and context-aware ubiquitous computing systems.

Researcher’s Background

Sebastian is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL). He is a co-founder of the E2 Software Engineering Group at UNL, and the Nimbus UAV Lab at UNL. He is the Program Co-Chair for the 2015 International Conference in Software Engineering, and a member of the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology Editorial Board.


David is Professor of Computer Science and Dean of the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore (NUS).  He previously held academic positions at University College London and the University of California, Irvine, and he also was a research scientist at AT&T Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill) and CTO at a technology startup called PreCache, Inc.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (ACM TOSEM) and is Past Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (ACM SIGSOFT).


Sebastian’s homepage is at

David’s homepage is at

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