German Universities to Take University Rankings Serious

Germany is the best place I know to be a professor if you value your independence. Your rights have been codified in the German Basic Law (Constitution) and no dean can tell you what to do. You are your own person.

On the downside, German professors and universities have been (for the most part) blissfully ignorant of how the rest of the world evaluates universities. Common sentiments in computer science are that “Journal publications are for wimps, real researchers publish in the leading conferences” and “University evaluations? Those are all fraudulent, focusing on crappy criteria that have no connection with reality”.

Some of these critiques are proper. For example, almost all German universities are public universites and many have a unique and positive symbiosis with industry, fueling Germany’s economic growth—where is that being accounted for in these rankings? But for the most part, Germany’s hesitance to join the international ranking game has been harmful.

In one experiment, two German universities recently decided to report their numbers to the Times Higher Education (T.H.E.) ranking with the goal of optimizing their rank. That is nothing uncommon, Northeastern University, for example, has undertaken a multi-year effort to game the US News and World report ranking, much to their benefit, apparently.

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Vortrag zu Open-Source-Geschäftsmodellen auf dem 10ten OSE Symposium, München, 2015-01-23

Ich werde am 23.01.15 um 16:00 Uhr auf dem 10ten OSE Symposium im Haus der Bayrischen Wirtschaft in München einen Vortrag zu Open-Source-Geschäftsmodellen halten (in Deutsch) und danach an einer die Tagung abschliessenden Diskussions­runde teilnehmen. Weitere Teilnehmer der Diskussionsrunde sind Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (ehemalige Bundesjustizministerin) und Jimmy Schulz (ehemaliges MdB). Hier die Rahmendaten:

  • Veranstaltung: 10. OSE Symposium
  • Termin: Am Freitag, den 23. Januar 2015 von 8:30 Uhr bis ca. 17:30 Uhr
  • Ort: Im Haus der Bayerischen Wirtschaft in München
  • Tagungsthema: Escrow und Nachhaltigkeit von IT-Geschäftsmodellen
  • Tagungsleitung: RA Prof. Dr. Jochen Schneider, Kanzlei Schneider Schiffer Weihermüller (SSW)
  • Agenda/Sprecher: Siehe PDF oder www.ose-international.org oder www.davit.de/veranstaltungen
  • Kostenbeteiligung> EUR 230,- zzgl. MwSt. (Reduzierung für OSE-, davit und DGRI-Mitglieder).

Es handelt sich um Vortrag #1 meiner stehenden Vorträge.

Talk Slides: Teaching Agile Methods with Industry Partners

I’m at ECSEE 2014, the European Conference on Software Engineering Education, and I just held a talk on how we teach agile methods at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Key to our projects is the involvement of industry partners, who provide high-level project requirements to the different student teams. Here are the slides to my talk on The Educational Software Engineering Tripod: Students, Teachers, and Industry as a PDF and later on Slideshare below.

Call for Papers: OpenSym 2015, the 11th International Symposium on Open Collaboration

OpenSym 2015, the 11th International Symposium on Open Collaboration

August 19-21, 2015 | San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

http://opensym.org/os2015

About the Conference

The 11th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym 2015) is the premier conference on open collaboration research and practice, including free/libre/open source software, open data, IT-driven open innovation research, wikis and related open collaborative media, and Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects.

OpenSym brings together the different strands of open collaboration research and practice, seeking to create synergies and inspire new collaborations between computer science and information systems researchers, social scientists, legal scholars, and everyone interested in understanding open collaboration and how it is changing the world.

OpenSym 2015 will be held in San Francisco, California, on August 19-21, 2015.

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Once Again Natural vs Engineering Sciences Struggeling over Definitions #FSE2014

I’m in Hong Kong, attending FSE 2014. I had signed up for the Next-Generation Mining-Software-Repositories workshop at HKUST but missed it for (undisclosed) reasons. Apparently there were two main topics of dicussion:

  • Calls by colleagues to make mining work “useful” rather than “just” interesting
  • Calls by colleagues to build tools rather than “just” generate insight

Both issues are joined at the hip and an expression of a struggle over the definition of “what is good science” in software engineering. As someone who started out as a student of physics, I have an idea of science that views “interesting insights” as useful in their own right: You don’t need to build a tool that shows your insight improves the world. On the other end is the classic notion of engineering science, where there is no (publishable) research if you don’t improve the world in some tangible way.

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Which Design Patterns Should Be Retired? (In Defense of Singleton)

Addison-Wesley asked the patterns community (or at least those who were there at the beginning) about their opinion on various issues. This is the second post of what should have been three (though I probably will only get to the first two).

Which Design Patterns Should Be Retired? (In Defense of Singleton)

For this very specific question, I expect everyone to say: Retire Singleton!

I beg to differ; for its time, Singleton was right. “Its time” mostly means single-threaded C++ code, as written by 3 of the 4 authors of the Design Patterns book. Today, many will argue that multi-threaded Java programs have made Singleton obsolete and even harmful. In my take at design patterns that would be wrong. Singleton should not perish, it should simply be adapted to its time. What ever thread-local information you may have, some it will be global to that thread. How is that not a thread-specific singleton? Or, take a group of application servers acting as a group: How is the group communication protocol not to provide a global id that makes the group identifiable and provide some global state attached to it? This may not be your granddaddy’s good ol’ singleton, but a singleton it may be nevertheless.

This is also where pattern descriptions will pass (or fail) the test of time: Does the original description of Singleton allow for these variations or not? If not, it may have been too narrow a description. I’d assume then that specific usage examples, tied to the programming languages and systems and technologies of its time, dominated the description and the abstracion process “out of examples, timeless patterns” did not yet conclude.

Beyond Singleton, some may want to retire Visitor, mostly because we find functional programming concepts being added to programming languages more and more, and multiple dispatch (which Visitor is about) comes for free. I say: Simply be precise about the scope. Visitor is (kind of) fine for Java but in a different context may not be needed as a design pattern because it has been cast as a language feature.

Design pattern should evolve and there is nothing wrong with it. John would approve.

A summary of all posts can be found on the InformIT site.

PS: Turned out, not many on the InformIT site were pointing to this issue. Looks like I was beating a dead horse!

First Thoughts on the 20 Year Anniversary of the Design Patterns Book (a.k.a. GoF Book)

Addison Wesley is going to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Design Patterns a.k.a. Gang-of-Four book. For this, they reached out to the community and asked for contributions. Here are the questions they asked, suggesting we ask (and answer) our own ones as well:

  1. How has Design Patterns affected you and your career?
  2. How has it changed how you think about software development?
  3. Do you have specific recollections of the book’s release?
  4. How do you use design patterns today?
  5. Which Patterns should be retired?
  6. Which new Patterns should be added?

I’ll provide my answers to questions 1-4 here and I’ll answer questions 5-6 in separate follow-on posts later.

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