Impact Project

The Impact Project is an ongoing initiative whose goal is to determine the impact of software engineering research upon software engineering practice. The project organizes volunteers who are among the world's most eminent software engineering researchers and practitioners to develop solidly researched documentation that will aid future research, education, and technology transition.

The Impact Project identifies and documents research contributions that have had substantial impact, determines the research modalities that have been successful, identifies technology transition approaches that have worked best, and anticipates directions that software engineering research might most effectively pursue, based on its history and positioning. Project results are useful to the software engineering research and practitioner communities, to other academic disciplines, to government funding agencies, and to the public by helping to objectively assess the software engineering community's record of achievement. The project also provides a case study of how a scientific community works, and what approaches both hamper and improve its effectiveness.

The project is a special initiative of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group in Software Engineering (SIGSOFT). It is funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.K. Institute of Electrical Engineers.

The project has two organizational thrusts:

  1. to seek, on a technology-by-technology basis, the sources of the ideas, designs, and working prototypes of widely used software technologies
  2. to examine the ways in which software engineering research directions and areas have been synergized into commonly used technologies.

The project's output will be a series of documents and briefings targeted to different audiences. One audience is software engineering researchers and practitioners, for whom the project should shed light on the effectiveness of past efforts to improve software utility and quality, and suggest how to improve future effectiveness. A second audience is the other disciplines of computer science and engineering, (such as programming languages, operating systems, databases, and theory), for whom the project should provide insights into the sources of current technology and approaches for making research more effective in influencing practice. A third audience is decision makers in both government and industry who set research investment priorities. The documents and briefings should help them render more informed and publicly defensible judgments by providing them with greater insight into the challenges, failures, and successes of technology transfer. Finally, project output will aid teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, providing a solid historical basis upon which to develop exciting new course materials.

The Impact whitepaper discusses the motivations, goals, and the adopted work methodology of the Impact project. Also, at the end it briefly summarizes the basic findings in selected areas (namely, Configuration Management, Modern Programming Languages, and Reviews and Walkthroughs) where research has already led to consolidated results.


Panel Presentations

  • ICSE 2002 Impact panel: the panel introduction by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)
  • OOPSLA 2001 Impact panel
    • The panel introduction by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)
    • Barbara G. Ryder's talk (pdf)
    • Alexander L. Wolf's talk (pdf)
  • ICSE 2001 Impact panel: the panel introduction by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)
  • ICSE 2000 Impact panel: the panel introduction by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)

Impact talks

  • BCS 2008, "The Impact of Software Engineering Research on Software Engineering Practice" by Alexander Wolf (pdf)
  • ICSE 2007, "Impact of Research on Middleware Technology," by Wolfgang Emmerich, Mikio Aoyama, and Joe Sventek (pdf) (ppt)
  • IEE 2001, "The Impact Project: Tracing the Source of Software Engineering Technology to its Origins"; by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)
  • ISSTA 2000, "The Impact Project"; by Leon J. Osterweil (pdf)









These are the members of the Impact Project Executive Committee:

Chair: Leon J. Osterweil

Department of Computer Science
140 Governor's Drive
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9264 USA
Tel: +1 413.545.2186
Fax: +1 413.545.1249
ljo (at) cs (dot) umass (dot) edu


Carlo Ghezzi

DEI-Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione
Politecnico di Milano
Piazza L. da Vinci 32
I-20133 Milano, Italia
Tel: +39 02.2399.3529
Fax: +39 02.2399.3411
carlo (dot) ghezzi (at) polimi (dot) it

Jeff Kramer

Department of Computing
Imperial College,
180 Queen's Gate
London SW7 2AZ, UK
Tel: +44 20.7594.8271
Fax: +44 20.7594.8282
jk (at) doc (dot) ic (dot) ac (dot) uk

Alexander Wolf

Department of Computer Science
ECOT 717, Campus Box 430
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0430
Tel: +1 303.492.5263
Fax: +1 303.492.2844
alw (at) cs (dot) colorado (dot) edu