Software Engineering Nederland

From the VERSEN board - March 2019

On March 1, the VERSEN board members had another meeting at the Lorentz center in Leiden to discuss about the text for a manifesto on Software Research. It was a productive day, and we hope to have a first complete version of the text by end of March. We will use this manifesto on Software Research also as input for the discussion on the national research agenda for computer science.

On February 1, we had a very interesting SEN symposium. Many thanks to our organisers, Anna-Lena Lamprecht, Sung-Shik Jongmans and Georgios Gousios for putting together such an interesting program. The winners for the VERSEN master thesis award were announced during the symposium. Next year, the SEN symposium will be held on January 31 (in combination with an IPA course on software engineering). More information will follow, but for now: save the date.

During the Software Engineering Track at ICT.Open, we announced the winner of the VERSEN PhD thesis award, as well as the winner of the Best Software Engineering Technology award 2018. Check out the dedicated news about those two prizes!

On behalf of the VERSEN board members,
Marieke Huisman (chair)

SET track @ICT Open 2019

Last Tuesday we held the SET track at ICT.OPEN 2019. The track presented a selection of the best Dutch research in software technology and engineering of 2018. 

The SET track also featured two invited talks:

  • Using Domain-specific languages at the Dutch Tax Authority by Gert E. Veldhuijzen van Zanten
  • Automatic testing of graphics drivers by Alastair Donaldson (Imperial College London, Google)

The full program of the track is available here.


VERSEN Best Software Engineering Technology Paper

During ICT.Open, the Software Engineering Technology track committed selected the best Software Engineering Technology paper. This award was presented to Ulyana Tikhonova, Jouke Stoel, Tijs van der Storm and Thomas Degueule for their paper Constraint-based Run-time State Migration for Live Modeling, which was published in the ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Software Language Engineering (SLE) 2018.

This paper presents an approach to automatically maintain consistency between a model and its run-time state, in a context where the model may be updated during execution.

VERSEN PhD Awards 2019

During ICT.Open, for the first time the VERSEN PhD award has been handed out. The members of the jury, Jan Friso Groote, Slinger Jansen, and Patricia Lago, used the following criteria for judging:

  • Novelty to and impact in the field promoted by VERSEN.
  • Timeliness.
  • Quality of the thesis report and associated artifacts.
  • Methodological approach and execution.

The winners of the VERSEN PhD award are:

  1. Paul Figerau Brostean (Radboud University Nijmegen) with the thesis "Active Model Learning for the Analysis of Network Protocols", supervised by Frits Vaandrager. An outstanding thesis that uses foundational techniques for a common, relevant, and urgent software engineering problem.
  2. Elvira Maria Arvanitou (University of Groningen) with the thesis "Proposing and Empirically Validating Change Impact Analysis Metrics", supervised by Paris Avgeriou. A significant contribution to the domain of metrics in software engineering, while embracing the weaknesses of metrics.
  3. Garm Lucassen (University of Utrecht) with the thesis "Understanding User Stories", supervised by Fabiano Dalpiaz. A formal approach towards a common phenomenon in engineering problems, that didn't obviously lend itself to formalization, with a significant empirical component.

VERSEN Msc Thesis Awards at SEN Symposium

At the SEN Symposium VERSEN awarded three Master Thesis Awards. For more information on the thesis awards, please go to this page.

The winners for 2019 are:

  • Djurre van der Wal with the thesis "Translating AWN networks to the mCRL2 model-checker": A relevant problem embedded in an international project, with excellent results. Twente University.
    Supervisor: Prof. dr. Jaco van de Pol
  • Jan-Jelle Kester with the thesis "CheckMerge: A System for Risk Assessment of Code Merges": An urgent problem in software engineering with high practical value and foundational techniques to provide a set of solutions. Twente University.
    Supervisor: Prof. dr. Marieke Huisman
  • Lieuwe Vinkhuijzen with the thesis "A Quantum Polynomial Hierarchy and a Simple Proof of Vyalyi’s Theorem": A forward-looking thesis that solves problems in SE; not in the next decade, but beyond. Leiden University.
    Supervisors: dr. André Deutz, dr. Jeannette de Graaf

ICT with Industry 2020 - the call for case studies is open!

Following the success of previous installments, the ICT with Industry 2020 workshop is going to take place next January at Lorentz Center. Ivano Malavolta (VU) and Vasilios Andrikopoulos (RUG), both members of VERSEN, are chairing this event. 
During the workshop, practitioners AND academic researchers are working together for a week on real life case studies of direct interest to the Industry.
The call of case studies is currently available (see here), with the call for participation to be open soon. Please consider submitting a case study for consideration in collaboration with an industrial partner, and/or simply participating in the event. Mail for more information!

Symposium Declarative Programming at TU Delft

On the occasion of the PhD defense of Daco Harkes on March 26, 2019 at TU Delft, we are organizing a symposium on Declarative Programming with talks by:

The PhD defese will follow the talks above. Check the web page of the symposium for more information!

Awards - Distinguished paper award at SANER 2019 for research on confusion in code reviews

During SANER 2019, the 26th IEEE International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering the paper "Confusion in Code Reviews: Reasons, Impacts and Coping Strategies" by Felipe Ebert, Fernando Castor (both - Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil), Nicole Novielli (University of Bari, Italy) and Alexander Serebrenik (Eindhoven University of Technology) has received the distinguished paper award. In this paper the authors investigate the reasons and impacts of confusion in code reviews, as well as the strategies developers adopt to cope with confusion. 

The most frequent reasons for confusion are the missing rationale, discussion of non- functional requirements of the solution, and lack of familiarity with existing code. Developers report that confusion delays the merge decision, decreases review quality, and results in additional discussions. To cope with confusion developers request information, improve familiarity with existing code, and discuss off-line. Based on the results, the authors provide a series of implications for tool builders, as well as insights and suggestions for researchers. The results of this work offer empirical justification for the need to improve code review tools to support developers facing confusion.

Vahid Garousi ranked as 8th world-wide among the most active consolidated SE researchers

Vahid Garousi got ranked 8th world-wide, among the Most Active "Consolidated" SE researchers, who have published in top-quality journals, by this recent bibliometric study. Congrats Vahid!


Papers spotlight - Interesting paper presented at ASE 2018 about scalable incremental building with dynamic task dependencies

Following up on our paper about the design of the PIE build DSL, a paper at the ASE 2018 conference, to be presented by Gabriël Konat next week, deals with the poor scalability of the Pluto algorithm we used for the implementation of PIE. Since the algorithm inspects the entire dependency graph, even if few nodes are affected by a change, there is a large overhead that becomes significant in large projects. This paper extends the Pluto algorithm with a bottom-up traversal of the dependency graph that only visits nodes affected by a change, dramatically reducing build times in most scenarios.

Gabriël Konat, Sebastian Erdweg, and Eelco Visser. 2018. Scalable incremental building with dynamic task dependencies ( In Proceedings of the 33rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE 2018). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 76-86. DOI:


Incremental build systems are essential for fast, reproducible software builds. Incremental build systems enable short feedback cycles when they capture dependencies precisely and selectively execute build tasks efficiently. A much overlooked feature of build systems is the expressiveness of the scripting language, which directly influences the maintainability of build scripts. In this paper, we present a new incremental build algorithm that allows build engineers to use a full-fledged programming language with explicit task invocation, value and file inspection facilities, and conditional and iterative language constructs. In contrast to prior work on incrementality for such programmable builds, our algorithm scales with the number of tasks affected by a change and is independent of the size of the software project being built. Specifically, our algorithm accepts a set of changed files, transitively detects and re-executes affected build tasks, but also accounts for new task dependencies discovered during building. We have evaluated the performance of our algorithm in a real-world case study and confirm its scalability.

Also at: 

Jan Friso Groote discusses software improvement at BNR

Jan Friso Groote discusses how software needs to improve in a radio show of BNR called "De Technoloog". The show is also available as a podcast

Delegation from the University of Twente visits University of Groningen

Following through with the initiative of the Board to strengthen the ties in the software engineering community in the country through bilateral meetings, a delegation of VERSEN members from the University of Twente visited on the 18th of March their colleagues at the University of Groningen. Marieke Huisman, Arend Rensink, Sebastiaan Joosten, and Luís Ferreira Pires spent the day discussing in a informal setting with Paris Avgeriou, Vasilios Andrikopoulos, and Jorge Perez the research interests and short- and long-term research challenges on both sides. War stories and lessons learned by the struggles of the respective educational programs were also exchanged in the process.  

Despite the very different approaches on software engineering research discussed, both groups found the experience very useful in terms of gaining visibility and learning from each other. The decision not to use any slides definitely helped in keeping the meeting lively, and the round-table format ensured sufficient space for everyone to contribute. Both parties plan to arrange for further such visits in the immediate future, targeting groups specializing in areas of software engineering as distant as possible from their own.

New people - Tom van Dijk started in Twente as assistant professor

Tom van Dijk started as assistant professor in the Formal Methods and Tools group at the University of Twente. His research is connected to formal verification and synthesis, including the efficient solving of parity games, using binary decision diagrams in formal methods and SAT/SMT solving with multi-core parallelism. He also likes making and improving usable research tools. Welcome on board, Tom!

VU/UvA PhD defense of Fahimeh Alizadeh Moghaddam

Fahimeh Alizadeh Moghaddam will defend her PhD thesis titled "Self-Adaptation for Energy Efficiency in Software Systems" on Wednesday April 17 at 14:00, location Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam.

Fahimeh's PhD is a collaboration between the S2Group @VU and the SNE group @UvA and it has been pursued under the supervision of prof. Patricia Lago (VU), dr. Paola Grosso (UvA), and prof. Cees de Laat (UvA). 

Awards - S2Group@VU research awarded with 2 prizes at HICSS 2019

The paper “DecidArch: Playing Cards as Software Architects”, originating from a collaboration of the S2Group with international academic and industrial partners, was awarded with two distinct prizes at the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2019).

The research presents a novel educational game conceived to train students and practitioners in concepts related to software architecture and decision making. The game is currently used as an interactive session of the course “Software Architecture”, taught at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Out of over 780 papers presented at HICCS within 11 different research tracks, the S2Group study was awarded with the “Best Paper award” of the Software Education and Training track.
Additionally, the paper was awarded as one of the five “ISSIP-IBM-CBA Student Paper Award for Best Industry Studies Paper” of the 52nd edition of HICSS.

The two prizes were adjudicated independently by two distinct committees.

Abstract: Teaching software architecture is a challenge because of the difficulty to expose students to actual meaningful design situations. Games can provide a useful illustration of the design decision making process, and teach students the power of team interaction for making sound decisions. We introduce a game –DecidArch– developed toachieve three learning objectives: (1) create awareness about the rationale involved in design decision making, (2) enable appreciation of the reasoning behind candidate design decisions proposed by others, and (3) create awareness about interdependencies between design decisions. The game has been played by 22 groups with a total of 83 players, all of them students of the VU software architecture course. We present some of the lessons learned, both from our observation and through participant survey. We conclude that the game well supports our three learning objectives, and we identify several improvement points for future game editions.

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