SIGSOFT Annual Report

July 2012 - June 2013

Submitted by: Will Tracz, SIGSOFT Chair

ACM's Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) had another excellent year, both technically and financially in 2012-13. This report provides a summary of key SIGSOFT activities over the past year.


SIGSOFT has a large awards program that recognizes the many achievements of the software engineering community.

Our prestigious service, research and education awards were presented again this year at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) 2013 in San Francisco, CA. The recipients are as follows:

  • The ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award was presented to Wilhelm Schäfer of the University of Paderborn, Germany for outstanding contributions to software engineering through service to SIGSOFT, software-engineering conferences, research foundations, and the general software-engineering community.
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award was presented posthumously to David Notkin from the University of Washington for contributions to research in software evolution: understanding, managing, and reducing the difficulties and cost of change in software systems.
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award was presented to Tony Wasserman of the Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley for early contributions to software engineering curriculum development and extensive academic and professional education in software engineering methods, tools, and management.

At ICSE 2013 we also recognized new ACM Senior Members, ACM Distinguished Members and ACM Fellows for 2012 from the SIGSOFT community.

  • The new ACM Senior Members are Douglas Baldwin (SUNY Geneseo), Duncan Brown (Zedis Limited), Sutap Chatterjee (Verizon), Georgios Eleftherakis (Capital Markets), Jeff Gray (University of Alabama), Mark Grechanik (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Alessandro Orso (Georgia Institute of Technology).
  • Distinguished Members: Peter F. Sweeney and Peri Tarr (both from IBM Yorktown) were recognized as new ACM Distinguished Scientists.
  • The ACM Fellows for 2012 were Gregor Kiczales of the University of British Columbia for contributions to aspect-oriented programming language design and implementation and Walter Tichy of the University of Karlsruhe, Germany for contributions to software engineering and revision control systems.

The SIGSOFT Impact Paper Award recognizes a paper published in a SIGSOFT conference at least 10 years earlier that has had exceptional impact on research or practice. The 2012 SIGSOFT Impact Paper Award committee, led by Peri Tarr, selected the paper: "Dynamically Discovering Likely Program Invariants to Support Program Evolution" by Michael Ernst, Jake Cockrell, Bill Griswold, and David Notkin, published in the proceedings of ICSE'99.

This is the final year for the SIGSOFT Retrospective Impact Paper Awards that recognize papers from the first 23 years of SIGSOFT's history of conference sponsorship. Lee Osterweil chaired the selection committee, which selected the following five papers:

  • Walter F. Tichy, "Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Revision Control System", ICSE '82: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Software Engineering. 1982
  • Debra J. Richardson, Stephanie Leif Aha, T. Owen O'Malley, "Specification-based Test Oracles for Reactive Systems", ICSE '92: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Software Engineering, 1992
  • P. Borras, D. Clement, Th. Despeyroux, J. Incerpi, G. Kahn, B. Lang, V. Pascual, "Centaur: the System", PSDE 3: Proceedings of the 3rd ACM SIGSOFT/SIGPLAN Symposium on Practical Software Development Environments, 1989
  • J. Magee and J. Kramer, "Dynamic Structure in Software Architectures", FSE 4 Proceedings of the 4th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering, 1996
  • A.M. Zaremski and J. Wing, "Specification Matching of Software Components", FSE 3: Proceedings of the 3rd ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering, 1995

Many of our sponsored meetings this year also presented ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Awards to the authors of a select number of their accepted papers.

This year we launched a new SIGSOFT Award, the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, for outstanding PhD dissertations in the field of software engineering. The effort in creating the award was led by Tao Xie, who with Adam Porter co-chaired the award selection committee. The first award was presented at FSE 2012 in November to Mark Gabel of the University of Texas at Dallas for his research on automating the process of writing and maintaining high-quality computer software. Gabel's research reverse-engineered the specifications from software programs to ease the process of finding software bugs and verifying correctness through automation. Gabel completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, advised by Professor Zhendong Su.

Finally, this year the SIGBED/SIGSOFT Frank Anger Memorial Award was awarded by SIGBED to Indranil Saha of UCLA for contributions to research focused on bridging the gap between control and computer science. The award supports travel and attendance by a student member of SIGSOFT to a conference. Saha chose to attend ICSE 2013 where he was recognized at the awards ceremony and he was introduced to SIGSOFT leaders at a special breakfast.


The problems and topics addressed in the papers presented at SIGSOFT meetings remain varied and timely. Software engineering researchers are increasing their application of techniques borrowed from other areas of computer science, particularly statistical analysis, data mining and machine learning techniques. One particularly innovative area involved industry studies from our 2012 Foundations in Software Engineering (FSE) Conference: These papers received distinguished paper awards:

  1. "Seeking the Ground Truth: A Retroactive Study on the Evolution and Migration of Software Libraries" by Bradley Cossette and Robert Walker, University of Calgary
  2. "Scalable Test Data Generation from Multidimensional Models": by Emina Torlak, University of California Berkeley
  3. "Assessing the Value of Branches with What-if Analysis" by Christian Bird and Thomas Zimmermann, Microsoft Research


SIGSOFT has two software engineering education programs - one targeted toward students and the seconded focused on educators.

Students receive discounted membership rates and registration fees at all SIGSOFT-sponsored conferences and workshops. In addition, our two flagship conferences: the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), which is co-sponsored with IEEE Technical Council on Software Engineering, and the ACM Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) offer a Doctoral Symposium where students are mentored by experienced Software Engineering professors. Also, SIGSOFT provides travel support to SIGSOFT sponsored or co-sponsored conferences or workshops for graduate and undergraduate students who are SIGSOFT members through the Conference Aid Program for Students (CAPS) - Attendance at conferences and workshops to present papers and to interact with researchers and practitioners in software engineering is an important component of students' education and professional development. Moreover, students' presence at conferences and workshops enriches and broadens conference and workshop activities. Conferences and workshops are also a good way to introduce students to the services of SIGSOFT. In FY 2012 over $57K of grants were given to over 70 students.

SIGSOFT and the National Science Foundation (NSF) held the 3rd Software Engineering Educators Symposium (SEES) at FSE-2012. It consisted of two half-day tutorials covering approaches for teaching programming and software engineering to undergraduates. Some of the approaches were experimental while others have shown some success in recruitment and retention of women and minority students. Symposium participants were provided access to instructional materials, received practical tips on how to successfully apply the approaches, and learned about tools that support hands-on instruction and active learning. In addition, funding was available to help defray costs to attend SEES and FSE. Funding for travel awards was provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation and by ACM SIGSOFT. The purpose of the grant was to increase participation in computing by building relationships with computer science faculty at schools with populations of students that are members of underrepresented groups. We therefore encouraged applications from faculty who teach at institutions whose student population is majority African American, Hispanic, Native American and women.


Through the efforts of our History Liaison, Tao Xie, SIGSOFT continues to provide valuable resources to the community documenting the history of our field and the people involved in that history.

We also continued our outreach to the community through our increasing presence in social media outlets, and we have an entry in Wikipedia as well. This year 3 undergraduate students developed a software tool to generate the wiki page from a database using 2 directories (a knowledge and a community directory) to facilitate re-use of data. In addition, this year we established a LinkedIn group as well as promoted the use of Twitter at all conferences.

This year, for the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Dissertation Award, we introduced an Award Nomination Submission web site to streamline the submission process and facilitate evaluation. The use of the website proved very beneficial and it will be expanded to handle all 2013 SIGSOFT award submissions.


As in previous years, conference finance remains the key challenge for SIGSOFT, particularly for the volunteers who organize its sponsored meetings, and ultimately for its membership who pay the registration fees for those meetings. Operating and venue costs for conferences continue to soar, and meeting organizers are finding ever more creative ways to keep costs and registration fees down while still providing a rich and rewarding experience for attendees, with the high quality programs, benefits, amenities and activities they have come to expect. Finally, our newsletter (Software Engineering Notes) continues to be the launch pad for first time authors seeking to get early research results published. Since a majority of these authors require additional guidance on presentation and grammar, the challenge of providing helpful reviews in a timely manner (as with any publication) is significant.