Research Projects

Research Projects

The following research projects are currently funded by third parties.

SoftwareDynamics²: Fine-Grained Evolution of Software Behavior

This joint research project is funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and  Der Wissenschaftsfonds FWF as a collaboration between Fabian Beck, University of Duisburg-Essen and the Martin Pinzger, Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt. 

Project duration: 2018-2021

Abstract:

Software systems continuously evolve. While the evolution of static properties of software systems, such as expressed by software metrics, code clones, and static dependencies, has been studied in detail, the evolution of dynamic properties has been investigated only at the macroscopic level. Basic questions, such as, what are the effects of a particular code change on the execution of a software system, or, which code changes caused the degradation of the execution time, are currently not easy to answer by software developers and researchers.

This research project aims at investigating and developing novel methods and techniques to analyze and visualize the impact of specific code changes on the dynamic behavior of a software system, and to find causes for specific changes of dynamic behavior in the evolution of a software system. In contrast to previous research, we will analyze both, software evolution and software execution, on the level of program statements. We will integrate the methods into novel prediction and recommendation techniques to assist software developers in optimizing specific performance metrics of a software system, such as runtime or memory consumption. A major challenge of this research project will be the mapping of single code changes to individual differences in the dynamic behavior. In addition, all methods need to be scalable and support multiple levels of details to make the fine-grained data explorable and understandable to software developers and researchers.

The systematic and detailed analysis of the two time dimensions creates a unique research opportunity that has not yet been explored by researchers. The planned outcomes of the project promise to provide methods for researchers to gain a better understanding of software evolution beyond static properties of software systems, and for developers to ease software maintenance, in particular, optimizing the dynamic behavior of software systems.

Vis-Text Interaction

The project is supported by the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung as part of the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Leading Early Career Researchers granted to Fabian Beck and officially hosted by VISUS, University of Stuttgart.

Project duration: 05/2014 - 04/2019

Abstract:

“A picture is worth a thousands words.” There is certainly some truth in the saying, but is it true always? - No, also pictures need captions. Abstract facts can often be described much easier in a few words than a picture. Hence, images and text usually complement each other. This is particularly true if the image is a visualization: labels make sense of the abstract geometric shapes, a legend needs to explain the data mapping, and only a text connects the displayed data into a story. Yet, text and visualization are often treated as separate entities, reducing the accessibility of the presented data and hindering knowledge extraction. In this project, we want bring visualization and text closer together by interactively linking them in visually augmented digital text documents.

The project investigates two application scenarios. First, scientific publications aim at communicating insights gained from data to the readers. Diagrams and charts have become integral part of scientific publications, but are only loosely linked to the text by references. Making those links interactively explorable, we would like to strengthen the integration. For instance, clicking on a statement in the text, the diagram could adapt to a version that provides more explanations or evidence underlining the textual statement. Or, vice versa, selecting a data point in the visualization, related text sections become highlighted. Embedded additional texts and visualizations explain the relationship. Even more directly, word-sized graphics, known as sparklines, can augment the text with extra information. The second scenario will investigate similar approaches in context of software engineering. Tightly integrated visualization enrich software documentation, requirements, or bug reports with data retrieved from the software system.