ECE Research Seminar (virtual event) – September 23, Friday, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

September 9, 2022

ECE Research Seminar (Virtual Event*)

September 23, Friday, 12:30 – 1:30 pm

CodeChat: Design as Documentation

Bryan Jones | 

Abstract: Software development powers the digital economy, by producing the essential code which enables banking, controls critical infrastructure, and defines social media. However, traditional software development approaches fail to meet modern challenges, sometimes producing catastrophic results. For example, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in 2021 caused a six-day shutdown of the pipeline that supplied 45% of all fuel to the East Coast. In 2019, critical software errors in the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prevented docking with the International Space Station; only quick manual overrides by the ground controllers prevented the destruction of the spacecraft. A 2009 failure in Toyota’s cruise control software led to fatal accidents and a $1.8B fine. Our society’s obsession with technology leads to technology-focused solutions to these software development problems: new programming languages, better libraries, more tools. Relentless pursuit of improvements in these areas yields to diminishing returns relative to the effort invested. We therefore propose an orthogonal solution, which focuses on the people who write software, rather than the software itself. By enabling software developers to think more deeply about the programs they write, better communicate their ideas and intent to their teammates, and focus on long-term software maintainability instead of short-term release deadlines, we can dramatically improve the quality and reduce the total cost of the software development process. Therefore, we introduce CodeChat, a human-centric approach which intermingles descriptive writing — a well-known approach to improve cognition and communication — with code in a seamless document. This approach, first introduced by Donald Knuth, provides a wealth of benefits combined with a short learning curve and can easily be applied to a number of programming languages.

Dr. Bryan A. Jones received the B.S.E.E. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Rice University, Houston, TX, in 1995 and 2002, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Clemson
University, Clemson, SC, in 2005. He is currently an Associate Professor at Mississippi State University. From 1996 to 2000, he was a Hardware Design Engineer with Compaq, where he specialized in board layout for high-availability redundant array of independent disks (RAID) controllers. His research interests include engineering education, embedded systems, and literate programming.

* For further information       contact:  Dr. Jenny Du | | 5-2035

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