ISR Distinguished Speaker

Leon J. Osterweil

Professor, Department of Computer Science
“Reasoning about Precisely Defined Processes”
Friday, April 25, 2014 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Faculty Host: 

Email RSVP required to by Wednesday, April 23.

Donald Bren Hall (building #314), room 6011

No cost to attend.


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Processes are pervasive in very diverse fields of endeavor, including government, engineering, management, healthcare, scientific investigation, and education. In most of these fields, however, the importance of processes is underappreciated, and processes that are often central to the success of activities in these fields are poorly understood. As a consequence critical processes in such domains as healthcare, management, and government are performed poorly, often leading to inefficiencies, errors, and sometimes even death. This talk suggests that a suitably clear, precise, and powerful executable process definition language and process analysis tools can make important contributions in all of these domains by supporting continuous process improvement. The Little-JIL process definition language is presented as an example of such a process definition language, and the use of various analyzers to identify defects is presented to show how these analyzers support process improvement. The talk then provides a number of examples. Example processes from such domains as medical care and elections will be presented. The application of the Little-JIL finite state analyzer is presented to show how process event sequence properties can be verified. The application of Fault Tree Analysis is presented to show how single points of failure and vulnerabilities to attack can be identified. The use of discrete event simulation to study resource allocation in support of process execution will also be presented as time permits. These examples are used to suggest desirable features of process definition languages and directions for future software definition and analysis research.

About the Speaker: 

Leon J. Osterweil is a professor in the Department of Computer Science, co-director of the Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research (LASER), and founding co-director of the Electronic Enterprise Institute, all at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he also served as Interim Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2001-2005. Previously he had been a Professor in, and Chair of, Computer Science Departments at both the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. He was the founding director of the Irvine Research Unit in Software (IRUS) and the Southern California SPIN. Professor Osterweil has also been a Visiting Professor at the Japan Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (JAIST) in Kanazawa, Japan.

Professor Osterweil was awarded the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award for Lifetime Excellence in Research in 2003, the ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award in 2010, and the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award in 2014. His ICSE 9 paper was selected as the most influential paper of ICSE 9, awarded as a 10-year retrospective. Prof. Osterweil is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is has been a member of various editorial boards, such as ACM Transactions on Software Engineering Methods (TOSEM), IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (TSE), Automated Software Engineering, the International Journal of Software and Informatics, IEEE Software, and Software Process Improvement and Practice. Prof. Osterweil has been the Program Committee Chair for the 16th International Conference on Software Engineering, and the General Chair of the 28th International Conference on Software Engineering, and the Sixth ACM SIGSOFT Conference on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE). He has consulted for such organizations as IBM, Bell Laboratories, SAIC, MCC, and TRW, and SEI's Process Program Advisory Board.

Dr. Osterweil’s research focuses on languages for the clear and precise definition of processes. His 1987 paper, "Software Processes are Software Too", is one of the 10 most frequently cited papers from the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) series, and has led to considerable interest in precise process definition. Currently his work has concentrated on the development of the Little-JIL process definition language, and its application to defining processes, and identifying defects, in such domains as healthcare, software development, elections, labor-management disputes, and scientific data processing.