Software Engineering Nederland

From the VERSEN board - June 2019

The VERSEN board has grown: Felienne Hermans (Leiden), Marten van Sinderen (Twente), Joost-Pieter Katoen (Twente/Aachen) and Alexander Serebrenik (Eindhoven) have joined the board. Moreover, Alexander Serebrenik has kindly agreed to take up the role of secretary for the Versen board. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jurgen Vinju for all the work he did as a secretary for VERSEN.

The board has continued working on the manifesto about Software Research. We now have a complete draft, and are currently working with a text editor to further polish the text. After summer, we will use this manifesto to inform policy makers about the importance of software research.

In addition, we have also continued to think about a VERSEN communication strategy. One of the things that we plan to do is to further improve the VERSEN website. We are also discussing how to get a wider audience for news related to software research. Please contact us if you have any suggestions about how to improve VERSEN-related communication.

Finally, the organizers for next year's SEN symposium are known. They are Wouter Swierstra (Utrecht), Yanja Dajsuren (Eindhoven) and Jorge A. Perez (Groningen). They have started to work on the program.  So far, the following speakers are confirmed: Wil van der Aalst (Aachen), Vasilios Andrikopoulos (RUG), Alexandra Silva (London), and Tanja Vos (OU). The date for the SEN symposium is January 31 (in combination with an IPA course on software engineering). More information will follow.

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

Projects - Vici grant "TestShift" for Andy Zaidman

Andy Zaidman (TU Delft) was awarded the prestigious NWO Vici grant for his TestShift proposal.

TestShift will study how software team dynamics influence software testing culture in general and specific approaches in particular. At the level of individual software engineers, TestShift studies whether software engineers benefit from insight in software testing through test analytics. Software engineers will thus be able to gauge cause and effect of their efforts, giving them a sense of purpose for testing. Finally, TestShift investigates advanced visualisation approaches geared towards understanding the intricacies of both newly created and existing developer test scenarios.

Projects - NWO Open Technology Programme grant for Marieke Huisman and Anton Wijs

Prof.dr. M. Huisman (University of Twente) and A. Wijs (Eindhoven University of Technology) received an NWO OTP grant for the project “ChEOPS: verified Construction of corrEct and Optimised Parallel Software”. Two PhD students will be appointed, one in Twente and one in Eindhoven, to make the development and maintenance of software aimed at graphics processing units (GPUs) more insightful and effective in terms of functional correctness and performance.

GPUs have an increasingly big impact on industry and academia, due to their great
computational capabilities. However, in practice, one usually needs to have expert knowledge on GPU architectures to optimally gain advantage of those capabilities. At the Eindhoven University of Technology, Wijs will work on modelling GPU applications using a Domain Specific Language, formally verifying the correctness of the models, and automatically generating GPU code. At the University of Twente, Huisman will work on the structured optimisation of GPU code, while ensuring that functional correctness is preserved. Existing formal verification techniques, model checking and code verification, will be combined to create, for the first time, a complete end-to-end development workflow for GPU applications.

To ensure the practical effectiveness of the resulting workflow, a users committee, consisting of SURFsara, the Netherlands eScience Center, Stream HPC, and CodePlay (UK), will provide real-life cases and provide feedback throughout the project.

Projects - Self-learning machines hunt for explosions in the universe

The National Science Agenda has awarded a 5 million euro grant to CORTEX – the Center for Optimal, Real-Time Machine Studies of the Explosive Universe. The CORTEX consortium of 12 partners from academia, industry and society will make self-learning machines faster, to figure out how massive cosmic explosions work, and to innovate wider applications.

Machine learning has rapidly become an integral part of society, in speech recognition or information retrieval. This is also the case in science, for detecting patterns in nature and the Universe. But the need is growing rapidly for such machines to respond quickly, in the application of self-driving cars and responsive manufacturing for example. On a more fundamental level, self-learning machines help us unveil a dynamical Universe we did not know existed up to recently. Bright explosions appear all over the radio and gravitational-wave sky. Many citizens and scientists are curious to understand where these come from.

“In CORTEX we aim to solve these open problems by bridging fundamental research to society,“ says Dr. Joeri van Leeuwen (ASTRON), the project lead. “We can only reach these ambitious goals if academic, applied, public and industry partners work together.”

Ben van Werkhoven (Netherlands eScience Center) explains the role of the Netherlands eScience center within the project (video in Dutch):

“Within CORTEX, The Netherlands eScience Center investigates how we can create software with the help of AI that can make optimal use of the computing power of modern computers. We then want to apply this technology to implement software with which we can observe explosive events in the universe.”

The Netherlands eScience Center has a central role in CORTEX. We will be extending Kernel Tuner, a tool by Ben van Werkhoven that uses machine learning algorithms to effectively speedup the optimization process of compute-intensive applications, with many new features and capabilities. We will then use this technology to automatically optimize the real-time machine learning pipelines for observing the explosive universe developed within CORTEX.

The 5 million Euro grant from the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda: Onderzoek op Routes door Consortia (NWA-ORC) program thus funds research at partners ASTRON, Nikhef, SURF, Netherlands eScience Center, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, IBM Nederland B.V., BrainCreators B.V., ABN AMRO N.V., NVIDIA, NOVA, and Stichting ILT; in cooperation with Rijksmuseum, Thermo Fisher B.V., and Leiden University.

Awards - ICSE 2019 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper to Roberto Verdecchia

The research “Scalable Approaches for Test Suite Reduction“, co-authored by Roberto Verdecchia, a double-Ph.D. Candidate of the S2Group (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and of CS@GSSI group (Gran Sasso Science Institute), has been selected as one of the ICSE 2019 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper awardees. Distinguished Papers represent the very best contributions to the Technical Track of ICSE, the premiere annual conference in the field of software engineering.

The research was carried out jointly with co-authors Emilio Cruciani (Gran Sasso Science Institute), Breno Miranda (Federal University of Pernambuco) and Antonia Bertolino (Italian National Research Council). It presents an effective and efficient algorithm to reduce large test suites, an issue that currently affects many software development companies.

This remarkable achievement reflects well the ongoing effort of the S2Group to target both high scientific quality and industrial relevance.

Awards - ICSE 2019 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper to Alexander Serebrenik

Paper co-authored by Alexander Serebrenik (Eindhoven University of Technology) has been selected as one of the ICSE 2019 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper awardees. Distinguished Papers represent the very best contributions to the ICSE Technical Track, and are awarded to up to 10% of the papers.

The paper, entitled "Going Farther Together: The Impact of Social Capital on Sustained Participation in Open Source", is co-authored Huilian Sophie Qiu (CMU, USA), Alexander Nolte (University of Tartu, Estonia), Anita Brown (Bryn Mawr College, USA), Alexander Serebrenik, Bogdan Vasilescu (CMU, USA). The authors have observed while sustained participation by contributors in open-source software can provide career advancement benefits to individual contributors, not all contributors reap the benefits of open-source participation fully, with prior work showing that women are particularly underrepresented and at higher risk of disengagement. While many barriers to participation in open-source have been documented in the literature, relatively little is known about how the social networks that open-source contributors form impact their chances of long-term engagement. In this paper the authors report on a mixed-methods empirical study of the role of social capital (i.e., the resources people can gain from their social connections) for sustained participation by women and men in open-source GitHub projects. After combining survival analysis on a large, longitudinal data set with insights derived from a user survey, the authors confirm that while social capital is beneficial for prolonged engagement for both genders, women are at disadvantage in teams lacking diversity in expertise.

The full paper is available here

Next events - FACS 2019 at CWI, Amsterdam

The 16th International Conference on Formal Aspects of Component Software (FACS 2019) will be held 23-25 October 2019 at CWI in Amsterdam, with keynotes by Wan Fokkink, Carlo Ghezzi, and Kim Larsen.

FACS 2019 is concerned with how formal methods can be applied to component-based software and system development, including (but not limited to) service-oriented and cloud computing, cyber-physical systems, and the Internet of Things.

Abstract and paper submission is now open (deadline: 28 June). The proceedings will be published as a volume of LNCS. Authors of selected papers will be invited to submit an extended version for inclusion in a special issue of a journal (historically, Science of Computer Programming).

The full call for papers is available at

Payment problems at large supermarket

Starting at midday on June 11, it was impossible to pay at large supermarkets, especially Albert Heijn. The problem was due to a malfunctioning firewall at KPN. The reason for the failure is said to be 'unknown'. Damages are estimated to run into millions of euro's.

Foutieve visa door software storing

8 juni 2019. Door een storing in een informatiesysteem heeft Nederland ten onrechte aan 16 mensen met een criminele achtergrond een visum verleend. De oorzaak ligt naar alle waarschijnlijkheid in een software update. De problemen zijn nog niet verholpen. Voorlopig moet de politie handmatig alle registers nalopen of iemand staat gesignaleerd (bron