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08-22-2012

Clarkson University Professor & Student Earn Honor for Software Research

Clarkson University Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Daqing Hou traveled to Passau, Germany, this summer to receive an award that represents an achievement in research that goes back to his own Ph.D. topic.

Abram Hindle, Tool Demo program co-chair; Daqing Hou; Chris Parnin, Tool Demo program co-chair; and Andrew Begel, Microsoft Research.Hou and his Ph.D. student Chandan R. Rupakheti earned the Best Tool Demonstration Award at the 20th Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Program Comprehension. Their study involves building tools for software engineers.

“An important goal for software engineering research is to take novel research ideas and translate them into solid, developer-ready tools,” says Hou. “When we ask how we should build software, we see that we need special tools as well. Tool demo is a venue where researchers run their tools before reviewers and other conference attendees.”

The Clarkson duo wrote two papers -- a ten-page research paper that justifies their concept, which is accepted into the research paper track, and a three-page demo paper focusing on the software tool itself. All papers are thoroughly studied by a committee of active researchers. The tool demo paper receives four anonymous, constructive reviews.

“Our tool paper is entitled 'CriticAL: A Critic for API and Libraries,'” says Hou. “ CriticAL is a software development tool designed to facilitate the use of reusable software components. CriticAL was part of Chandan Rupakheti’s Ph.D. dissertation work at Clarkson.”

The professor and Rupakheti began writing at the end of last year. They spent about two months writing the main research paper and submitted it to ICPC in February. They heard in March that their submission was accepted and they were invited to add a companion paper on the tool itself.

As the next step, at the conference, authors must do a demonstration of their research to prove that it is the same as they’ve described. Colleagues there can ask questions, and then the committee makes the final decision on winners.

“In the computer science community and in software engineering, we predominantly publish in conferences, so the review process is much more rigorous than in other disciplines,” says Hou.

The winning papers are published and archived in the IEEE digital library, with local copies at Clarkson. The Best Tool Demo wins a Kinect for Xbox 360 sponsored by Microsoft Research, which Hou is donating to the University’s Software Engineering Research Laboratory for use in student projects.

While he’s delighted with the award, he says, “I want to emphasize that this is part of a much longer-term research program. You build on many, many small things.”

The honor came as part of a series of huge moments for Rupakheti, though. He was unable to attend the conference because he was moving to Indiana, where he’s starting his new career as an assistant professor in Computer Science and Software Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. 
 
As the new semester nears, Hou has plenty of ideas to explore and is “looking forward to meeting other students interested in pushing forward along this line of research.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/dhou-icpc-award.jpg .]

Photo caption: Clarkson University Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Daqing Hou and Ph.D. student Chandan R. Rupakheti earned the Best Tool Demonstration Award at the 20th Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Program Comprehension. Above, Hou receives the award. Left to right: Abram Hindle, Tool Demo program co-chair; Hou; Chris Parnin, Tool Demo program co-chair; and Andrew Begel, Microsoft Research.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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