Leon Osterweil retires

Emeritus Professor Leon J. Osterweil retired in May 2014 after 21 years of service at UMass Amherst. Through a post-retirement appointment, Osterweil continues to co-direct the Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research (LASER) within the School of Computer Science and is an active member of many CS committees.

Osterweil received an A.B. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1965 and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1970 and 1971, respectively. Osterweil began his faculty career in 1971 as an assistant professor at the Computer Science Department, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was later chair from 1981-1986. He joined the Information and Computer Science Department of the University of California at Irvine in 1988, and served as Department Chair from 1989-1992. He was also the founding director of UCI's Irvine Research Unit in Software. He joined the faculty of UMass Amherst Computer Science in 1993 and served as Interim Dean of the UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2001-2005.

CS alums Peri Tarr (Ph.D. '96) and Alexander Wolf (Ph.D. '85), editors of the Springer published book Engineering of Software - The Continuing Contributions of Leon J. Osterweil, wrote in the preface of the book: "Software engineering research can trace its roots to a small number of highly influential individuals. Among that select group is Prof. Leon J. Osterweil, whose work has fundamentally defined or impacted major directions in software analysis, development tools and environments, and software process." In the area of software analysis, in 1973 he developed DAVE, one of the first static analysis tools, to detect errors and suspicious anomalies in software systems. DAVE was followed by the Cecil/Cesar dataflow analysis system in the late 1980s, one of the first model checking systems and probably the first one to be directly applicable to programs (instead of abstracted models of systems). From his work on analysis tools, it was clear that developers would need help in selecting and integrating the results from a broad array of analysis and support tools. This led to work in the area of integrated development environments (IDEs). Osterweil was a leader in the development of the Odin object management system and the Toolpack project, which developed one of the first IDEs for numerical software systems. He was one of the founding principals of the ARPA-funded Arcadia project and the follow-on DARPA EDCS project. These projects were some of the first to explore and advocate for programming language and environment support for implicit invocation, persistent object management, and dynamic system configuration. From these projects, he realized that a more powerful integration mechanism was needed to support the collaboration among various software and hardware components as well as human agents. This led to the development of the Appl/A process programming language, followed by the Little-JIL process programming language. Subsequently, Osterweil has demonstrated how Little-JIL can be used to support human-intensive systems in areas such as healthcare, digital government, and mediation, in addition to his initial concern for supporting software development.

Osterweil has been a keynote speaker at a number of conferences, most notably the 9th International Conference on Software Engineering, was Chair of the ACM Impact Project, and was General Chair of the 2006 International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2006) and the Sixth International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering. Osterweil has been the Program Chair of many conferences, including ICSE 16. He is a director of the International Software Process Association and has been a member of Technical Advisory Boards for the Software Engineering Institute, KLA-Tencor, SAIC, MCC, and IBM. In addition he has consulted for such companies as AT&T, Boeing, and TRW.

Osterweil is a Fellow of the ACM, has been an ACM Lecturer, and has served on the editorial board of IEEE Software and ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology. His paper suggesting the idea of process programming was recognized as the Most Influential Paper of the 9th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 9), awarded as a 10-year retrospective. Another paper on software tool integration, presented at ICSE 6, was runner-up for this honor.

Osterweil received the ACM SIGSOFT 2003 Outstanding Research Award, the 2010 Influential Educator Award, and the 2014 Distinguished Service Award for promoting and expanding the field of software engineering. He is one of two individuals to receive all three of these honors from ACM SIGSOFT. In recognition of his research, Osterweil was honored with the UMass Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research & Creative Activity in 2010. A Festschrift honoring Osterweil was held in 2011 during the 33rd International Conference on Software Engineering to celebrate his achievements with a series of talks by prominent members of the community. The Festschrift was well attended by his colleagues and by a large number of his academic descendants (see Significant Bits, Summer 2011).