Yesterday, UL organised a lecture (and a reception) to celebrate the IEEE Computer Society's 60th Anniversary Award made to Professor David Lorge Parnas.
Hosted by Prof. Vincent Cunnane, UL's VP Research, the event included two talks, one by David Parnas himself and one by Fionn Murtagh, the new Director of ICT at the Science Foundation Ireland.
The title of Prof. Parnas' talk was:
‘Getting Lucky’ in Software Engineering Research. He spoke about his most important accomplishments and offered a possible recipe for success:
1. Start with a real problem.
2. Never just solve that problem, look for a generalization.
3. Abstracted - looked at the heart of the problem.
4. Search the literature to find out if the problem has been solved by others.
5. If not already solved, solve the abstract problem
6. Solve the original problem.
7. Solve other problems.
The second part of the talk enumerated a number of problems in today's software engineering research:
- reacting to papers not to real problems, cliques in science;
- confusing: technology, fundamentals, irrelevance;
- last 9 papers scholarship;
- reacting to symptoms rather than cases;
- reacting to funding buzzwords;
- confusing popularity with importance;
- empirical Software Engineering;
- Out of area research (management science, psychology, sociology, economy, abstract mathematics);
- beware of innovation thin line;
- research metrics;
- cooperation with the industry;
- rethinking education in Software Engineering.
While criticizing simplistic experiments and interviews as reliable research methods("people ask people things and they believe them!"), Prof. Parnas mentioned: "That's one of the reasons why I always enjoyed having Liam Bannon around - he's a psychologist! he knows better than that".
He concluded his talk by saying it was "time for a slow careful restart".
Professor Fionn Murtagh presented a briefing entitled “An ICT View of the Current Conjuncture and the Topology of Innovation”, providing some interesting insights into current and future priorities for the SFI in the ICT field.
Update- amateur recordings of the two talks are available here: