A study by Microsoft Research published this month ranks work by assistant professor Yuriy Brun as the most relevant software engineering research in the last five years. In a survey of over five hundred software developers at Microsoft, Brun's work (done in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia) was ranked the highest out of nearly 600 papers published in the last five years.
Brun's work aims to make collaborative software development -- whether in large companies or in open-source projects -- go more smoothly. When developers write code, they can accidentally create conflicts that inadvertently break code written by other developers. Identifying and resolving these conflicts early can help. Identifying situations which may lead to conflicts before they happen can even prevent some conflicts altogether. Brun and his colleagues developed a speculative analysis technique that precisely diagnoses important classes of conflicts, and designed and implemented Crystal, a publicly-available tool that helps developers identify, manage, and prevent conflicts before those conflicts become severe and before relevant changes fade away in the developers' memories.
The industrial relevance study, a collaboration between Singapore Management University and Microsoft Research, was presented at the 10th Joint Meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering in Bergamo, Italy in September 2015. Read more about the industrial relevance study here:
David Lo, Nachiappan Nagappan, and Thomas Zimmermann, How Practitioners Perceive the Relevance of Software Engineering Research, ESEC/FSE, 2015.
To learn more about proactive conflict detection, watch a video here or read the technical paper:
Yuriy Brun, Reid Holmes, Michael D. Ernst, and David Notkin, Early Detection of Collaboration Conflicts and Risks, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 2013.