At FAU, we are now holding our so-named “software architecture” seminar for the second time. It is important to realize (for students as well as the general public) that “software architecture” is a metaphor (or, maybe more precisely, an analogy). Architecture is a discipline several thousand years old, while software architecture is only as old as software engineering, probably younger, if you make Shaw and Garlan’s book the official birth date of software architecture, at least in academia.
If there is one for-profit publisher to boycott, it is Elsevier. Here is the proof. My university, the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, just published a list of the most expensive journals it is subscribed to. 19 out of 20 are Elsevier journals (page in German). My university’s library is in a negotiation stale-mate with Elsevier, which is not budging on the price of these journals. This is for research papers delivered to Elsevier for free, reviewed and edited for free, all by the scientific community.
I ask you not to submit your research work to Elsevier journals. I ask you not even to cite papers from Elsevier journals unless you absolutely have to. Please. In the name of science, scientific freedom, and equal access for all to research publications.
Thank you for fighting the good fight!
Richard Feynman, in an enjoyable-to-read article , explains what he calls the cargo cult:
In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land.
The cargo cult people confused correlation with causation. They thought that creating one condition (runways, controller) would lead to the desired effect (planes with lots of good stuff). It is a common fallacy to confuse correlation with causation, that is, the coinciding of two events (correlation) with a cause and effect relationship between them (causation).
I teach a hands-on lab course on how to do research. Students perform a small research project and write a paper about it, preparing them for the research work of their final thesis.
I want to revise the set of example research papers I’m using. We study these research papers as good examples of how to perform and present research. (Think: “Best XYZ ever!”) So I thought I’d ask you: What research papers would you consider exemplary for these particular aspects of a paper:
Update 2012-03-28: I made the course slides available to the public.
I just finished teaching a one-week course on agile methods at Tsinghua University, the top (mainland) Chinese engineering school and one of the two leading Chinese universities. My host told me that I was the first non-Chinese-speaking lecturer to have held such a short course, not only in Computer Science but at Tsinghua as a whole. (I’m sure there have been plenty of prior foreign lecturers, but apparently I was the first one not to teach for a whole semester, but only for this condensed one-week half-day type of course). Yay! Adventure and breaking new grounds is still possible on this planet.
Moreover, with my research partner Prof. Bai, I’ll be leading a joint distributed agile software development project, involving student teams from both Tsinghua University (THU) and Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU). The goal of the project is to learn about what makes or breaks distributed agile development. We’ll start with simple hypotheses but hope to grow this into something larger. We already have student teams, but are looking for more. If you are a software engineering student at either THU or FAU, please come and talk to us!
“Startupinformatik” is a German term for “informatics (computer science) for startups” that I just made up. It is intended to be close to “Wirtschaftsinformatik”, which is German for “informatics for businesses”. So it is about the business of startups and the role software (IT) plays in it. You can read my prior thoughts
- on how I’m teaching startupinformatik at my University (in German),
- how that teaching feels like (the AMOS lab course) (in English),
- as well as recent spoils like Mydosis (others coming up).
2012-02-18: Updated the post with translations from the original letter.
I’m an Addison-Wesley author and just received a letter from Pearson, the owner of Addison-Wesley, informing me about their thoughts and steps towards e-books and the digital age. The letter is written as an open letter with no apparent secrets, so I’m making it available here for anyone interested to read and to comment on it.
In general, I have sympathies with companies trying to sustain their revenue streams. I do expect them, however, to understand that change is inevitable and to flexibly react to and to lead that change for their customers’ sake and not just their shareholders’ sake. As an author, I’m naturally in a similar or at least related situation.
The PDF is marked up with numbers. The following list relates to what the (German) letter says on the respective issues:
On my research group’s blog I make the case for German University Outreach to China. I argue that my employer, the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, is well-positioned (and well-advised) to tap into the Chinese education market. In a nutshell, German engineering universities provide excellent education almost across the board while being comparatively cheap (no or only token tuition). Most U.S.-based universities can’t beat that. Moreover, it is a great opportunity for suburban universities who aren’t located in a major cities like Berlin or Munich to attract students.
Read more on my research group’s blog.
I thought it is a common term by now but apparently it is not. Here is my definition of “write-only (research) journal”:
A write-only research journal is a research journal that publishes papers but is never read (hence write/publish-only). Its purpose is twofold: to (a) give a researcher some reputation return on their work by having it pass (some form of) peer review and to (b) make money for publishers.
David Rosenthal explains the economics of write-only journals. Basically, by increasing the mass of their offering through easily produced write-only journals, publishers appear bigger in bundling deals with libraries and can charge more for the access to their overall offering. Rosenthal then goes on to discuss other problems with peer review, the academic system, etc. but these are other topics.
Obviously, “write-only journal” is a derogatory term. Good research should be published in outlets that are read, not just written to. However, with the abundance of research results, I think even write-only journals serve the small purpose of validating the research results and hence the work of the researcher. However, the implication of write-only is that the results are not worth much and hence that validation should not count as much either. Which is why some say these journals should be done away with anyway.
Abstract: This is a teaching note for the free case “User-Generated Content Systems at Intuit(A)”, E-381(A), from the Stanford Free Case collection available at ECCH. The original case is a product management case in which Intuit, maker of consumer and small business financial software, faces the decision to “go social or not” for user help in its tax preparation software. The original case discusses the pros and cons of such a disruptive innovation. This teaching note provides pertinent questions to ask your students as well as my summary answers to these questions. I could not find an original teaching note hence I wrote this one. This is my first such note so any suggestions for improvement are welcome. The note is licensed CC-BY-SA 3.0; feel free to use it in your own teaching. The note’s home is my website. For attribution, please link to it.