SIGSOFT Annual Report

Fiscal Year 2019, July 2018 - June 2019

Submitted by Thomas Zimmermann, SIGSOFT Chair

SIGSOFT seeks to improve our ability to engineer software by stimulating interaction among practitioners, researchers, and educators; by fostering the professional development of software engineers; and by representing software engineers to professional, legal, and political entities.

ACM's SIGSOFT had another excellent year, both technically and financially in 2018-2019. This report provides a summary of key SIGSOFT activities over the past year.


The SIGSOFT awards program recognizes the many achievements of the software engineering community. The awards, including our prestigious service, research, and education awards, were presented again this year at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2019) in Montreal, Canada.

  • The ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award was presented to Mark Harman from Facebook, UK, for "outstanding contributions in search-based software engineering."
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award was presented to Ahmed E. Hassan from Queen's University, Canada, for "outstanding contributions to software engineering education including raising generations of mining software engineering researchers."
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award was presented to Matthew B. Dwyer from the University of Virginia, USA for "outstanding contributions to the software engineering community including extraordinary leadership to improve conference and journal venues and exemplary student outreach and support."
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Early Career Research Award was presented to Jeff Huang from Texas A&M University, USA, "for outstanding contributions in the area of software engineering as an early career investigator."
  • The ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award was presented to Sergey Mechtaev, for his Ph.D. dissertation titled "Semantic Program Repair." The dissertation was completed at the National University of Singapore under the guidance of Professor Abhik Roychoudhury. An Honorable Mention for the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award was presented to Christoffer Quist Adamsen for his PhD Thesis on "Automated Testing Techniques for Event-Driven and Dynamically Typed Software Applications", advised by Anders Møller, Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • The ACM 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. This year, the award went to the paper "CUTE: A concolic unit testing engine for C" by Koushik Sen, Darko Marinov, Gul Agha, published in the Proceedings of the joint 10th European Software Engineering Conference and the 13th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE 2005).
  • The Impact Paper Award is in addition to the Most Influential Paper Awards, also known as "test of time awards", which are given to papers that have appeared at a particular conference. At ICSE the SIGSOFT co-sponsored conference with the longest track record of awarding Most Influential Papers, the award went to the ICSE 2009 paper "Automatically finding patches using genetic programming", by Westley Weimer, ThanhVu Nguyen, Claire Le Goues, Stephanie Forrest. The ESEC/FSE conference recognized two papers from FSE 2018: "Latent Social Structure in Open Source Projects", by Christian Bird, David S. Pattison, Raissa M. D'Souza, Vladimir Filkov, Premkumar Devanbu and "Differential Symbolic Execution", by Suzette Person, Matthew B. Dwyer, Sebastian G. Elbaum, Corina S. Pasareanu
  • We recognized the new ACM Senior Members, Distinguished Members, and Fellows from the SIGSOFT community. Samuel A. Ajil, Kester Quist-Aphets, Santanu K. Rath, and Jim Lawson have been elevated to Senior Member. Sven Apel, Rajesh Balan, and Marsha Chechik have been elevated to Distinguished Member. Three members have been elevated to ACM Fellow: Gul Agha, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for research in concurrent programming and formal methods, specifically the Actor Model; Premkumar T. Devanbu, University of California, Davis, for contributions to using software data and meta-data to improve software tools and processes; and John Hughes, Chalmers University, for contributions to software testing and functional programming
  • Many of SIGSOFT's sponsored meetings also presented Distinguished Paper Awards. SIGSOFT allows up to 10% of the accepted papers to be selected for this award. The list of recognized papers is available at


Software is still eating the world. A unique aspect of software engineering is that it branches into a range of different application domains as well as other research areas in computer science, such as human-computer interaction, mobile computing, artificial intelligence, distributed systems, and more recently big data and machine learning, and so on. This is because everything depends now on software. As examples for the breath of the software engineering field, we highlight below distinguished papers from the ESEC/FSE 2018 and ICSE 2019, two of the main general software engineering conferences sponsored by SIGSOFT. Some areas like testing, verification, and performance have and always will be important. Building solutions at scale has also been important for software engineering and this has only increased over the past years. Today software can have hundred million of lines of code. In addition to scale of the systems being built, the scale of research has increased. Rather than studying a few projects, empirical research now investigates hundreds if not thousands of projects, often at the level of entire ecosystems. The community is also making progress is leveraging biosensors such as fMRI and fNIRS to better understand software developers. A trend over the past few years has been the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence in software. This has led to research both on leveraging ML and AI to improve the way software is being built (AI4SE), but also to research that incorporate SE concepts into ML and AI processes and workflows (SE4AI). Being able to understand ML and AI system and ensure their fairness and that they behave responsible is one of the important challenges ahead.

Distinguished papers at ESEC/FSE 2018

  • James Davis, Christy Coghlan, Francisco Servant and Dongyoon Lee. The Impact of Regular Expression Denial of Service (ReDoS) in Practice: An Empirical Study at the Ecosystem Scale
  • Shengjian Guo, Meng Wu and Chao Wang. Adversarial Symbolic Execution for Detecting Concurrency-related Cache Timing Leaks
  • Dileep Kini, Umang Mathur and Mahesh Viswanathan. Data Race Detection on Compressed Traces
  • Felix Pauck, Eric Bodden and Heike Wehrheim. Do Android Taint Analysis Tools Keep their Promises?
  • Yu Gao, Wensheng Dou, Feng Qin, Chushu Gao, Dong Wang, Jun Wei, Ruirui Huang, Li Zhou and Yongming Wu. An Empirical Study on Crash Recovery Bugs in Large-Scale Distributed Systems
  • Vaibhav Saini, Farima Farmahini Farahani, Yadong Lu, Pierre Baldi and Cristina Lopes. Oreo: Detection of Clones in the Twilight Zone

Distinguished papers at ICSE 2019

  • Nandor Licker and Andrew Rice. Detecting Incorrect Build Rules
  • Yu Huang, Xinyu Liu, Ryan Krueger, Tyler Santander, Xiaosu Hu, Kevin Leach and Westley Weimer. Distilling Neural Representations of Data Structure Manipulation using fMRI and fNIRS
  • Emerson Murphy-Hill, Edward Smith, Caitlin Sadowski, Ciera Jaspan, Collin Winter, Matthew Jorde, Andrea Knight, Andrew Trenk and Steve Gross. Do Developers Discover New Tools On The Toilet?
  • Huilian Sophie Qiu, Alexander Nolte, Anita Brown, Alexander Serebrenik and Bogdan Vasilescu. Going Farther Together: The Impact of Social Capital on Sustained Participation in Open Source
  • Junjie Wang, Ye Yang, Rahul Krishna, Tim Menzies and Qing Wang. iSENSE: Completion-Aware Crowdtesting Management
  • Pengfei Su, Shasha Wen, Hailong Yang, Milind Chabbi and Xu Liu. Redundant Loads: A Software Inefficiency Indicator
  • Kihong Heo, Hakjoo Oh and Hongseok Yang. Resource-aware Program Analysis via Online Abstraction Coarsening
  • Emilio Cruciani, Breno Miranda, Roberto Verdecchia and Antonia Bertolino. Scalable Approaches for Test Suite Reduction
  • Gang Fan, Rongxin Wu, Qingkai Shi, Xiao Xiao, Jinguo Zhou and Charles Zhang. SMOKE: Scalable Path-Sensitive Memory Leak Detection for Millions of Lines of Code
  • Akond Rahman, Chris Parnin and Laurie Williams. The Seven Sins: Security Smells in Infrastructure as Code Scripts
  • Junwen Yang, Cong Yan, Chengcheng Wan, Shan Lu and Alvin Cheung. View-Centric Performance Optimization for Database-Backed Web Applications


Over the past several years, SIGSOFT has introduced several programs to aid and expand our membership. Two signature programs are the Webinars and the CAPS funding.

  • The SIGSOFT Webinar series remains very popular; in the past year, SIGSOFT organized 12 webinars on topics such as gender-inclusive software engineering, the role of programmers in the age of AI, intelligent software engineering, 50 years of software engineering, and successful expert software designers.
  • Through the Conference Aid Program for Students (CAPS), we provide travel support to conferences for dozens of graduate and undergraduate student-members as well as support to defray the costs of childcare for all members of our community (faculty qualify as well). CAPS has been extended to help defray travel costs of a certain number of professional SIGSOFT members as well. The new program will launch this Fall.


Several new programs or efforts were launched at SIGSOFT in the past year:

  • Conference surplus reinvestment. The past Executive Committee approved a surplus reinvestment program, which was implemented in FY19. The surplus reinvestment for Year N of a conference is 25% of the Conference Net from Year N-2 and 25% of the Conference Net from Year N-3.
  • Special projects. We launched a call for projects that benefit SIGSOFT members, future SIGSOFT members or members of the software engineering community.
  • SIGSOFT Initiatives. To encourage more volunteer participation, we launched several strategic initiatives with an open call for volunteers. The initiatives included Diversity, and Inclusion; Open Science; Data-driven Introspection; Conference Operations; Paper and Review Quality; and many more. The goal was to provide the community with a platform for topics they feel passionate about. The response was immense: 123 people volunteered. The initiatives are:
    • Conference Operations (led by Laura Moreno, Alexander Serebrenik): Improve the experience for conference attendees.
    • Data-driven Introspection (led by Tim Menzies, Bogdan Vasilescu): Drive the understanding of the entire ecosystem of software engineering conferences.
    • Diversity and Inclusion (led by Jo Atlee, Kelly Blincoe, Byron J. Williams): Lead the efforts for increasing diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
    • Open Science (led by Jonathan Bell, Daniel Graziotin): Increase open science practices in the software engineering community. Help the community to increase the accessibility, reproducibility, and replicability of our research outcomes.
    • Paper and Review Quality (led by Paul Ralph and Romain Robbes): Increase the quality of our research papers and reviews, for example by developing guidelines on how to review certain types of papers. Make recommendations on how to improve review processes.
  • PC Member Nominations. After a successful pilot at ASE 2019, we launched an open call for reviewers for the top three software-engineering conferences co-sponsored by SIGSOFT. Members of the community could nominate themselves or a colleague for the program committees of ASE 2020, ESEC/FSE 2021, and ICSE 2021.
  • Open Science. Many SIGSOFT sponsored conferences pushed heavily on open science and appointed dedicated chairs to help authors increase the openness of the research. A great resource on open science in double blind review settings is by Daniel Graziotin.
  • New SIGSOFT logo. We also announced a new logo. The logo is composed of two tuning forks. The logo will be rolled out throughout the rest of the year.

    SIGSOFT logo


Several events or programs were focused on broadened participation either geographically, or among under-represented members of your community and

  • The ICSE 2019 Student Mentoring Workshop was aimed at advanced undergraduates and first/second year graduate students. e goal of the workshop is to attract students to research careers in software engineering, to de-mystify the graduate school experience, and to offer first-hand perspectives on graduate study from recent Ph.D. graduates, young scholars, and senior researchers. The workshop was inspired by similar workshops organized by SIGPLAN. The goal for SIGSOFT to increase the number of student programs over the coming years.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Chairs at Conferences. Several software engineering conferences (for example, ASE 2019) have started to appoint diversity and inclusion chairs to organize D&I activities at meetings. At SIGSOFT level, we appointed three chairs to lead the SIGSOFT wide diversity and inclusion efforts. Improving the diversity of the community that we serve is a priority.
  • To broaden, reach and membership, SIGSOFT has established national chapters in India (iSoft) and China (cSoft). Each chapter has a liaison on the SIGSOFT EC, in addition to our long-standing International Liaison. The ICPE 2019 conference was held in Mumbai India. ISSTA 2019 was held in Beijing, China.


While SIGSOFT is stable and strong, there are several challenges we continue to face:

  • Despite a large growth of software engineers, SIGSOFT's membership numbers have not been growing. We will aim increase membership by providing more benefits to SIGSOFT members, increased visibility of SIGSOFT at conferences, and a focus on practitioners with the help of the industry liaison. We are also working on engaging SIGSOFT members more.
  • We will also work to increase the global reach of SIGSOFT by continuing to establish long-term working relationship with our Indian, Chinese, and South American colleagues, as well as expanding the reach of SIGSOFT into Africa. Over the past few years, China has grown to the second most active country in software engineering research. We will work towards further growing the community and interest in SIGSOFT in these regions.
  • The conference registration fees have been rising. While SIGSOFT provides travel support with the CAPS program and recently adopted a model to return conference surpluses to future editions of the same conference, this will likely not be enough to keep the registration fees affordable. In addition to registration is a major cost factor for attendees. Inspired by the success of the webinars, we will explore to what extent virtual conferences can provide similar benefits as physical conferences at lower cost.
  • Several members of our community have raised concerns over the lack of gold open access offerings at SIGSOFT conferences. This may become a problem for researchers who are subject to the Plan S - Open Access Mandate. We are looking into how the changing open access landscape will affect SIGSOFT and how ACM's policies, practices, and initiatives can work for SIGSOFT members.