Software researcher wants to see more transparency

Published Sep 28, 2018

Castor, a research center for software development at KTH, has been inaugurated. Managing director Benoit Baudry wants to see an increased exchange between researchers and companies. He hopes that open source software-based research can spread to industrial production environments.

– An achievement that we come so far, and the work feels challenging, says Benoit Baudry, Professor of Computer Science.

The center is a collaboration between KTH, Saab and Ericsson, with the aim of delivering outstanding research in software engineering.

The domain is vast and heterogeneous, Benoit Baudry, points out. Software is everywhere, from the large data centers running Internet services 24/7, to the tens of computers in cars and planes or to the connected ‘things’ that are increasingly present in our societies.

– There is lot to be done to find the right topics, the right instruments for collaboration, the right, meaningful outputs. And I am also actively looking for new partners to strengthen the visibility and chances of impact of our research.

What are your hopes with the center?
– First, I hope that we succeed in doing very good research that is valuable for industry partners. This is the goal of the center, but it is also very challenging because of the different constraints and contexts for software research in industry or the University. Here I wish we could increase collaboration through more co-developments of open source software tools.

– I hope that we can reduce the cultural gap that currently exists when referring to software technology in industry and in the lab. Hopefully, we can set visits of Professors and students on the premises of our industry partners and we can have industrial software developers sit in our labs.

– My third hope is that Castor will increase the visibility of software research at KTH. Since software has emerged as research field in many departments, the activities are scattered across KTH and less visible than if they were concentrated in one place.

How shall the cooperation with companies and industry look?
– The companies fund the research center to support seed projects and the organization of workshops to disseminate the state of the art in software technology. The seed projects are short term and aim at assessing the feasibility of a research idea, in collaboration between a KTH research and a company. The seed projects shall eventually become larger projects for which the partners will look for external sources of funding.

– Our goal is to increase the number of industry PhD students to run the core research activities of the center.

If you look forward a few years what do you want accomplished?
– More successful transfers of strong, open source software technology research into industrial software production environments. Closer collaborations between KTH software researchers and the very active, Stockholmian software industry in the areas of entertainment and finance. Impact on the Swedish software industry, through the transfer of innovative technology that increase the resistance and the performance of software systems.

Text: Christer Gummeson

These are the challenges in the field of research, according to Benoit Baudry:

  • The technology and the usages evolves extremely fast. This is a challenge to crystallize the key concepts and principles that form the foundation of software technology, while producing results that are actionable and relevant for the software industry.
  • The domain is vast and heterogeneous. The challenge here is to understand precisely in which context the software technology that results from our research is applicable. It is clear that the scale, the regulatory and business constraints, the pace of evolution, the risks are all of different natures depending on the context in which software is developed.
  • Open source is more and more present. The digitalization of many sectors, the integration of many systems, the will for transparency are all strong phenomena that press for an increased use of open source software. The challenge here is to ensure that these open source components, which are constantly updated, operate safely and in a secure manner with the system in which they are integrated.
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