Fuel for the ASE’18 doctoral symposium

Here I gather the online and bibliographic that have inspired the keynote talk that I gave at the ASE’18 doctoral symposium on the role of role models in an academic career.

PhD studies are multi-faceted, in particular when they are considered in the perspective of a future academic career. Focusing on PhD studies in software engineering, one has to elaborate ideas, opinions and strategies about all these facets: software research, publication, software development, impact, funding, collaborations. Shaping a sincere, personal approach with respect to these points is hard, and I believe that choosing and learning from role models is essential in this endeavor.

“A person’s chosen role models may have a considerable impact on his or her career opportunities and choices. The suitability of a role model depends, in part, on the admirer’s perceived commonality with the model, who should provide an image of an ambitious yet realistic goal.” Role model, Wikipedia.

In this talk I wish to touch upon a few of the facets of a PhD in software engineering and then discuss a few exemplary works that can inspire and act as role models.

Networking on the network. In the late 1990’s, early 2000’s, Phil Agre wrote and regularly updated a generous and genuinely inspiring essay about the challenges and ways of building and fueling an academic identity and network.

I have my own role models. Researchers and papers that have inspired my work, that have shaped my way of thinking about software, about experimental science and about that have influenced my choice of research topic.

Building diverse computer systems. This paper appeared in 1997. Written by Stephanie Forrest. It was a completely novel approach to computer security. Disruptive and highly debated at HotOS’97. Twenty years later it is considered as a founding work for advanced protection mechanisms such as Address Space Layout Randomization, it is truly interdisciplinary, Stephanie Forrest is a key figure in the communities of security and artificial intelligence and she now directs the Biodesign Center for Biocomputation, Security and Society.

Operating System Protection Through Program Evolution. This work appeared before the paper by Forrest. Yet, it is considered as seminal in the field of software diversity, which is my core research topic since 6 years. It has been written by Fred Cohen, an influential consultant in software security who stays at the verge of the academic community, but still has highly cited papers.

DevOps: CSC 519. A generous, impressive contribution to education in the area of DevOps. By Chris Parnin.

Margaret Hamilton’s keynote at ICSE’18. Margaret Hamilton has been building software since the early 1960’s, she led the development of the embedded software that flew the Apollo 11 mission, she invented the term ‘software engineering’, she has had a deep influence on software engineers and the software research community in the last 5 decades. She is a genuine role model.

Spoon, Soot, Asm. Original, relevant and sound contributions to the field of software engineering must rely on solid software infrastructure. These three examples of open source, collaborative, long-standing software tools are exemplary of this category.