Friday, March 27, 2015

Grace Hopper, Diamonds, and Foundations of Software Engineering

Hello Planet Earth!

Long time ... long, busy, productive, crazy, fast-flying time. I know I said I would get better about posting more regularly, but this semester so far has been a whirlwind of paper writing, event planning, and overall maintaining my sanity :). Let me catch you up...

To start, WiCS, the organization I am currently President of and use as my "free time" filler,  is hosting our first hackathon this weekend. We decided to call it DiamondHacks (get it, diamonds are a girls' best friend :D) after being inspired by attending Pearl Hacks, another larger all female hackathon held locally. The event is this weekend so the last few days have been devoted to finalizing preparations and helping myself maintain my sanity. It's times like these when you realize how valuable having a team is -- photos and and update to come after the event! :)

On a more important/detrimental to my graduating note, my research has been keeping me on my toes. I just submitted a paper to FSE (Foundations of Software Engineering) 2015 and I must say - I feel surprisingly optimistic. Here's why I say "surprisingly": 1) I have submitted to FSE every year since I've been in the PhD program and haven't gotten in once, and 2) the acceptance rate is typically quite low (aka they are a bit more selective than other software engineering conferences).

Another reason I feel optimistic is because the research I have been trying to publish is finally starting to materialize into something that could potentially be a thesis...and more importantly my thesis :D. The study was conducted to identify the difficulties programmer run into when understanding and addressing notifications used by analysis tools, like FindBugs, the compiler, and refactoring tools. I conducted sessions with programmers where they used various tools and attempted to understand the notifications. I used card sorting after to determine difficulty themes, such as unfamiliar terminology and missing importance and rationale. Based on the themes, I propose some future directions for improving tool notifications either through tool changes or more in-depth research. The implication I intend for my dissertation is adapting tool notifications based on programmer experience; this would help deal with the over-arching experience-related difficulties programmers encounter. Details on the study and its findings will be posted in its own blog post, contingent upon FSE acceptance/rejection.

I've also submitted three proposals for Grace Hopper this year: one the beginnings of my dissertation and two workshop proposals I wrote with Denae Ford. One workshop on findings your strengths and using them and another on the power of blogging and web presence for building your brand. I'll go into more detail on these in their own blog post when we hear back :)

So wish me luck -- more to come soon on the data I'm collecting to model and predict developer knowledge and the statistics I'm (trying) to use to build and validate them!

Stay tuned...