Faculty Candidate Seminar
Whats Wrong with the Program I Havent Written Yet?
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Software developers primarily rely on experience and intuition to make
development decisions. I will describe speculative analysis, a new
technique that helps developers make better decisions by informing
them of the consequences of their likely actions.
As a concrete example, I will consider collaborative development and
the conflicts that arise when developers make changes in parallel.
This is a serious problem. In industry, some companies hire
developers solely to resolve conflicts. In open-source development,
my historical analysis of over 140,000 versions of nine systems
revealed that textual, compilation, and behavioral conflicts are
frequent and persistent, posing a significant challenge to
collaborative development. Speculative analysis can help solve this
problem by informing developers early about potential and existing
conflicts. Armed with this information, developers can prevent or
more easily resolve the conflicts. I will demonstrate Crystal, a
publicly available tool that detects such conflicts early and
precisely. Crystal has inspired a collaboration with Microsoft and
some Microsoft teams now use a version of the tool in their everyday
My research focuses on helping developers understand system behavior.
By informing developers of the consequences of their choices,
speculative analysis allows developers to understand the choices'
implications on the system's behavior, leading to better decisions and
higher-quality software. I will briefly describe three other results
that help developers understand system behavior and then summarize my
vision of how the mechanisms that inform developers can also be used
to inform the system itself, allowing for self-adapting and
Yuriy Brun is an NSF CRA CI Fellow at the University of Washington.
He received his Ph.D. degree in 2008 from the University of Southern
California, as an Andrew Viterbi Fellow, and his M.Eng. degree in 2003
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral research
was a finalist in the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Competition in 2008.
His most recent work on speculative analysis, the subject of his talk,
won a 2011 ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award.
Yuriy's research interests are in software system modeling, design,
and development, focusing on understanding how local component
behavior affects global system behavior. His goals are to make it
easier for developers to (1) understand their systems' behavior and
(2) create systems with desired behavior.