Message from the Director

Fall/Winter 2017

Interim Director Prof. Cristina Videira LopesFor all who read the ISR Connector newsletter, you will notice that this space has a new author: me. As of July 1st, 2017, Prof. Richard (Dick) Taylor retired from the directorship; I have the honor of being Interim Director for this academic year. Under Dick’s leadership, ISR was a solid rock that supported important research in software engineering and computer-supported cooperative work; it gave faculty, students, alumni, industry, and friends a sense of community. I plan to continue what Dick started, and will support research in topics that are especially relevant today. Cybersecurity is one of those topics. Cybersecurity is a vast field, with many angles to it, from policy all the way to cryptography. Currently, ISR’s expertise falls within architectural perspectives to Cybersecurity – the idea that the way we put secure components together may result in security vulnerabilities that need to be understood and caught. UCI’s School of ICS is hiring two faculty this year in Cybersecurity. The School is also hiring a third position in Software Engineering, broadly construed. These three new faculty are expected to be affiliated with ISR, expanding and deepening our expertise.

Normalized Java Resource (NJR) Workshop at UCI on November 17.Prof. Jens Palsberg (UCLA) and I hosted a series of workshops recently, one at OOPSLA (Oct. 23, 2017), one at ASE (Nov. 3), and the final one here at UC Irvine (Nov. 17). The goal of these workshops was to gather requirements and ideas for how to scale up and improve benchmarks for research in static and dynamic analysis of programs, particularly for Java. Much tool development can benefit from access to Big Code, namely in the important areas of security enhancement, bug finding, and code synthesis. Small benchmark suites such as DaCapo are good for evaluation of performance-oriented tools, including virtual machines, but problematic for development of many other kinds of tools. Current large datasets such as Boa enable static analysis of projects but rarely enable execution or search based on dynamic measurements. Our goal is to create what we call the Normalized Java Resource (NJR) that will speed up innovation in the area of software tools. Our vision is a diverse collection of 100,000 normalized Java projects that is executable, scriptable, and searchable. The Java projects stem from our existing Sourcerer collection and we normalize their representation to enable large-scale processing with reproducible results. Such processing includes execution, static and dynamic analysis, scriptable interaction, and search for projects with specific dynamic characteristics. For each search of the collection, NJR returns both a file with Java projects and a container for a cloud service such as Amazon EC2. Thus, a researcher can run tools on those projects both locally and on a cloud service. Researchers will be both beneficiaries and contributors to NJR. They benefit from searching for Java projects that fit their need, and once their tools run on NJR, they contribute to an ever-increasing collection of measurements. In this way, we hope to leverage from a powerful network effect: the more people run tools on NJR, the more data we get for search, and the more data we get for search, the more people will want to search and run on NJR.

This being my first Message for the Connector, I want to publicly acknowledge the incredible work of ISR staff, namely Assistant Director Debra Brodbeck, Administrator Janet Ko, and Financial Analyst Anna Chang. Moreover, I want to let everyone know that ISR is here to stay! There will be changes, no doubt, and I look forward to an exciting future at the helm. I hope to see many of you at the Distinguished Speaker talks that are starting in the Winter quarter, and at the Research Forum which will be held, as usual, at the end of the academic year.

Happy New Year!

For more information, contact Interim Director Cristina Videira Lopes.

This article appeared in ISR Connector issue: