Software Engineering

Thursday Extra: Configuration-dependent faults and feature locality

On October 13, Brady Garvin from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln will present a talk in the Thursday Extra series:

Developers are increasingly building large software in the form of highly configurable systems, systems with features that can be toggled on and off. The major risk for highly configurable systems is that some bugs, called configuration-dependent faults, only cause failures when certain features are combined, being invisible otherwise. My talk will first discuss the techniques we currently have to combat configuration-dependent faults and show that they all exploit a common idea, which we term feature locality. I will then present some newly discovered forms of feature locality and explain how they are helping us better prevent, find, mitigate, and repair configuration-dependent faults.

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). Mr. Garvin's talk, "Configuration-dependent faults and feature locality," will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend.

CS Table: Safety Critical Systems in Health Care

This Friday at CS Table, April, Benji and Hay will be leading a discussion about Safety Critical Systems in health care. The readings can be found at the following link: As usual, we'll meet at about noon in JRC 224A.

Friday Extra: "Combinatorics, heuristic search, and software testing"

At noon on Friday, April 30, in Noyce 3821, Myra Cohen of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln will speak on the role of combinatorics in the design of test suites for software:

Software systems today are magnitudes of order larger and more complex than their recent ancestors. Instead of building single systems, we now build families of systems. User interfaces are graphical and programs event-driven. The software/hardware interfaces we once kept distinct have become blurred. Developing reliable and affordable software presents an increasing number of challenges. As glitches in these large-scale systems continue to make newspaper headlines, developing reliable and affordable software presents an increasing number of challenges.

In this talk we examine advances in software testing that focus on the difficulty caused by one simple but ubiquitous concept -- system configurability. Configurable systems include software such as web browsers and office applications, families of products customized by businesses for different market segments, and systems that dynamically reconfigure themselves on the fly. We show how theory from combinatorial mathematics, combined with heuristic search algorithms, can help us to test these systems more efficiently and effectively.

Pizza and soda will be served shortly before noon. Professor Cohen's talk, Combinatorics, heuristic search, and software testing: Theory meets practice, will begin promptly thereafter. Everyone is welcome to attend!

CS Table, 26 February 2010: Classics of Software Engineering: No Silver Bullet

This Friday we will consider one of the famous pieces of writing on software engineering, by Frederick P. Brooks, a primary architect of OS/360.

Brooks, Frederick P., Jr. (April 1987). "No Silver Bullet - Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering". IEEE Computer 20 (4): 10-19.

Grinnell College's CS Table is a weekly gathering of folks on campus (students, faculty, staff, alums, etc.) to talk about issues relating to computer science. CS Table meets each Friday at noon in JRC 224A, the Day Public Dining Room (PDR) in the Joe Rosenfeld '25 Center (JRC). All are welcome, although computer science students and faculty are particularly encouraged to attend.

The Spring 2010 theme of CS Table is Software Design.

Contact Professor Rebelsky for further information or for a printed copy of the reading.

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