Centre for Research on Engineering Software Technologies

Robotic systems are increasingly being integrated in various aspects of everyday life. The robotic applications range from mission critical to infotainment and home service tasks. Robotic systems are expected to assist or replace their human counterparts for efficient and effective performance of all sorts of tasks such as industrial operations or surgical procedures. Like any other software intensive system, Software Architecture (SA)  plays a vital role in ensuring the fulfilment of functional and non-functional requirements of robotics systems. Researchers from different communities (such as robotics, software engineering, industrial engineering, and artificial intelligence) have exploited architectural models to design, reason about, and engineer robotic software. Architecture-centric robotics research and practice can be characterised by various architectural models that emerged overtime such as: (i) object-oriented robotics (OO- R) enabling modularity, (ii) component-based robotics (CB-R) supporting reusability, and (iii) service- driven robotics (SD-R) exploiting dynamic composition of software.

In order to help build a body of knowledge about architectural challenges and solutions of architecting robotics systems, we have carried out a systematic mapping study that has been recently accepted in the Journal of Systems and Software (JSS). This study has systematically identified and classified the existing solutions, research progress and directions that influence architecture-driven modeling, development and evolution of robotic software. Our findings have have identified eight themes that support architectural solutions to enable (i) operations, (ii) evolution and (iii) development specific activities of robotic software. The research in this area has progressed from object-oriented to component-based and now to service-driven robotics representing different architectural models that emerged overtime. An emerging solution is cloud robotics that exploits the foundations of service-driven architectures to support an interconnected web of robots. The results of this SMS facilitate knowledge transfer – benefiting researchers and practitioners – focused on exploiting software architecture to model, develop and evolve robotic systems.

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Cloud computing has gained widespread adoption for providing highly scaleable on demand Information and Community Technology (ICT) infrastructure in many domains and businesses. Designing and evaluating cloud-enabled systems is highly complex and challenging undertaking. Researchers have been dedicating significant amount of resources for learning the challenges in designing and evaluating cloud-enabled systems and devising appropriate solutions for those challenges. The literature on this topic has been growing rapidly but there has been no attempt to systematically analysing and synthesising the published literature as a body of knowledge about challenges involved in designing architectures of cloud-enabled systems and the potential solutions to address those challenges. We have carried out a large scale study for the gaol of building a body of knowledge. This piece of work has recently been published as a journal article in Software: Practice and Experience. Following is the taxonomy of the reported challenges.
Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 23.44.17We have systematically identified and reviewed 133 papers that report architecture related challenges and solutions for cloud-based software systems. This paper reports the methodological details, findings, and implications of a systematic review that has enabled us to identify 44 unique categories of challenges and associated solutions for architecting cloud-based software systems. We assert that the identified challenges and solutions classified into the categories form a body of knowledge that can be leveraged for designing or evaluating software architectures for cloud-based systems. Our key conclusions are that a large number of primary studies focus on middleware services aimed at achieving scalability, performance, response time and efficient resource optimization. Architecting cloud-based systems presents unique challenges as the systems to be designed range from pervasive embedded systems and enterprise applications to smart devices with Internet of Things (IoTs). We also conclude that there is a huge potential of research on architecting cloud-based systems in areas related to green computing, energy efficient systems, mobile cloud computing and IoTs.

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This is a cross-post from Christoph Treude’s research blog

Software development is knowledge-intensive, and the effective management and exchange of knowledge is key in every software project. While much of the information needed by software developers is captured in some form of documentation, it is often not obvious where a particular piece of information is stored. Different documentation formats, such as wikis or blogs, contain different kinds of information, written by different individuals and intended for different purposes. Navigating this documentation landscape is particularly challenging for newcomers.

In collaboration with researchers from Canada and Brazil, we are envisioning, developing and evaluating tool support around software documentation for different stakeholders. Two of these efforts will be presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering — the premier conference in software engineering — this year.

In the first project in collaboration with Martin Robillard from McGill University in Canada, we developed an approach to automatically augment API documentation with “insight sentences” from Stack Overflow — sentences that are related to a particular API type and that provide insight not contained in the API documentation of that type. The preprint of the corresponding paper is available here.

SISE

Abstract:

Software developers need access to different kinds of information which is often dispersed among different documentation sources, such as API documentation or Stack Overflow. We present an approach to automatically augment API documentation with “insight sentences” from Stack Overflow — sentences that are related to a particular API type and that provide insight not contained in the API documentation of that type. Based on a development set of 1,574 sentences, we compare the performance of two state-of-the-art summarization techniques as well as a pattern-based approach for insight sentence extraction. We then present SISE, a novel machine learning based approach that uses as features the sentences themselves, their formatting, their question, their answer, and their authors as well as part-of-speech tags and the similarity of a sentence to the corresponding API documentation. With SISE, we were able to achieve a precision of 0.64 and a coverage of 0.7 on the development set. In a comparative study with eight software developers, we found that SISE resulted in the highest number of sentences that were considered to add useful information not found in the API documentation. These results indicate that taking into account the meta data available on Stack Overflow as well as part-of-speech tags can significantly improve unsupervised extraction approaches when applied to Stack Overflow data.

The second project was developed in collaboration with three Brazilian researchers: Igor Steinmacher from the Federal University of Technology — Paraná, Tayana Conte from the Federal University of Amazonas, and Marco Gerosa from the University of São Paulo. We developed and evaluated FLOSScoach, a portal to support project newcomers, which we found to be effective at lowering project entry barriers. The preprint of the corresponding paper is available here and FLOSScoach is available here.

FLOSScoach

Abstract:

Community-based Open Source Software (OSS) projects are usually self-organized and dynamic, receiving contributions from distributed volunteers. Newcomers are important to the survival, long-term success, and continuity of these communities. However, newcomers face many barriers when making their first contribution to an OSS project, leading in many cases to dropouts. Therefore, a major challenge for OSS projects is to provide ways to support newcomers during their first contribution. In this paper, we propose and evaluate FLOSScoach, a portal created to support newcomers to OSS projects. FLOSScoach was designed based on a conceptual model of barriers created in our previous work. To evaluate the portal, we conducted a study with 65 students, relying on qualitative data from diaries, self-efficacy questionnaires, and the Technology Acceptance Model. The results indicate that FLOSScoach played an important role in guiding newcomers and in lowering barriers related to the orientation and contribution process, whereas it was not effective in lowering technical barriers. We also found that FLOSScoach is useful, easy to use, and increased newcomers’ confidence to contribute. Our results can help project maintainers on deciding the points that need more attention in order to help OSS project newcomers overcome entry barriers.

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We are delighted to announce that our ongoing collaboration with researchers from Lancaster University and University of Leicester has recently resulted in a publication accepted in the premier conference on Software Engineering, the International Conference on Software Engineering to be organised in Austin, USA in 2016. The title and abstract of the accepted paper are: […]

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CREST hosted Australasian Software Engineering Conference (ASWEC) and Australian Software Week (ASW) on 28thSeptember -1st October 2015.  The event successfully covered several paper presentations, interesting keynote speeches, tutorials, panel discussion and doctoral symposium.  In addition, initiatives were taken to incorporate amazing gatherings during the week namely Big Data Meet up and inaugural Australian Smart Cities […]

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CREST researchers presented the following paper at the IEEE International Conference on Healthcare Informatics in Dallas, Texas: P. O’Leary, N. Carroll, P.Clarke,and I. Richardson, “Untangling the complexity of connected health evaluations,” in IEEE International Conference on Healthcare Informatics (ICHI), (Dallas, Texas), October 2015 Abstract: Societal changes are forcing us to reconsider how healthcare is delivered. Connected Health, which involves […]

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In parallel with ASWEC2015, CREST hosted a successful “Smart City Event”. The event brought an excellent opportunity for researchers and practitioners to brainstorm the hot topic of smart city and discuss future prospects to transform Adelaide into smart city. The event included several talks and panel discussions with participation of representatives from Adelaide city council, […]

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Empirical Research in Software Engineering. Empirical studies of software engineering involve learning about current practice and evaluating potential improvements in current practice. CREST researchers are concerned with understanding how practitioners conduct great software engineering. Such studies can be characterized into three general areas: The investigation of current techiques, tools and practice. These tend to act as assessments […]

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Connected Health. Connected Health involves the use of ICT to improve healthcare quality and outcomes. Essentially “Connected Health” is the utilisation of “connecting” technologies (i.e. communication systems – broadband, wireless, mobile phone, fixed phone lines) and medical devices for healthcare applications. In addition, technologies relating to sensors, alert systems, vital sign monitoring devices, health informatics […]

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