ABB has just published its RFP for the 2013 university grant program which allocates grants of 50-80 KUSD to academic researchers. Eight page proposals are due on September 30th on a variety of topics, both related to software engineering and other topics. I have extracted my three favorite topics from the RFP and am posting them here, hoping to inspire some great proposals.
Topic 6: Bug Reproduction Productivity Techniques and Tools
Bugs and security vulnerabilities in industrial software systems are notoriously difficult to reproduce, at least partially due to the complex software and hardware systems within which individual products operate. Critical memory leak bugs, library version mismatches, and even straightforward bugs can take hours if not days to reproduce. ABB seeks solutions to reduce the time necessary to reproduce software bugs, including (but not limited to) automatic provisioning of test configurations from a bug report, remote debugging tools, remote data collection tools or strategies, or even well-defined studies around incentivizing/training end-users to provide high-quality bug reports.
Topic 9: Testing Tools and Techniques for IEC 61131-3 Languages
The IEC 61131-3 languages are the standard for industrial automation, used by domain experts for a variety of large automation projects, such as controlling the lighting in commercial complexes or precisely coordinating large-scale chemical processes. Because IEC 61131-3 sub-languages are both graphical (e.g., function block diagrams) and textual (e.g., structured text) there exists no clear unifying strategy or tooling for
testing. ABB seeks the creation of a testing framework and appropriate tooling for IEC 61131-3 languages targeting both graphical and textual sub-languages. While innovative additions, such as the inclusion of live programming environments for creating test cases (e.g., http://arxiv.org/pdf/1212.1796.pdf) are encouraged, proposals will be evaluated primarily on their ability to seamlessly test all sub-languages.
Topic 11: Fine-Grained Developer Productivity Metrics Suite
While it is unlikely that a single metric can be produced to fairly assess a developer's individual productivity, certain types of behavior can be measured (e.g., the amount of structured versus unstructured navigation, as was studied in "How effective developers investigate source code: An exploratory study"). ABB seeks the definition of key developer behaviors and an accompanying suite of metrics as well as ultra-low impact approaches to automatically collecting that data, preferably in the IDE but possibly by analyzing relevant artifacts.
The announcement is available here and the full list of topics here.
David Shepherd leverages software engineering research to create useful additions to the IDE.