Cheriton faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students win four awards at ICSE 2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

Cheriton School of Computer Science professors, and graduate and undergraduate students won four awards at ICSE 2020, the 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering.

“Congratulations to Vikram, to Jo, and to Rahul, Alex, Mei and Jesse for winning these ICSE awards,” said Professor Raouf Boutaba, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “From our undergraduate computer science students beginning research careers in software engineering, to our graduate students examining characteristics of software contributions, to our faculty who tirelessly promote diversity and inclusion in the computer science and software engineering communities, all are making significant, necessary and lasting contributions.”

ICSE is the world’s premier software engineering conference. ICSE 2020 was scheduled to take place in Seoul, South Korea in May of 2020, but it transitioned to a virtual conference that began on June 27 and will wrap up on July 19, 2020. All of the plenaries and technical talks are being live-cast to livestreaming services free of charge, and the conference itself is taking place over text, voice and video.

ACM Student Research Competition, Undergraduate Division

phto of Vikram SubramanianVikram Subramanian, a software engineering student at Waterloo who is also an undergraduate research assistant working with Professor Mei Nagappan, was awarded first place in the ACM Student Research Competition for his presentation that examined first contributions of developers to open source projects on GitHub.

The popularity of open source software is at an all-time high and for it to remain so new developers must join and contribute to the open source software community. To better understand the first-time contributor, Vikram studied characteristics of the first pull request made to an open source software project by new developers. He mined GitHub — an online platform for software development where developers store their projects and collaborate with other developers — for the first open source software pull requests of 3,501 developers to study their characteristics.

Vikram found that more than one-third of pull requests were in Java and very few in C++. Interestingly, a large fraction of pull requests didn’t even involve writing code and pull requests were a mixture of trivial and non-trivial changes.


photo of Professor Jo AtleeReliable Rapid Response Reviewer Award
IEEE TCSE Distinguished Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Award

Professor Jo Atlee received two awards — a Reliable Rapid Response Reviewer Award and the 2020 IEEE Technical Council on Software Engineering Distinguished Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Leadership Award.

This prestigious Distinguished Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Award is conferred annually to an individual for outstanding and sustained leadership in the software engineering community to encourage women to explore science and engineering careers.

Grace Lewis, Chair of the WISE Leadership Award, wrote in her letter to Professor Atlee that “the WISE award recognizes your extensive contributions to software engineering and software engineering education, your exemplary mentorship role as the Director of Women in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, and your remarkable efforts promoting diversity and increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups in software engineering and computer science.”


ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) Distinguished Artifact Award 

photo of Alex Yun and professor Mei Nagappan and Jesse Hoey

Recent master’s graduate Rahul Iyer (unavailable for photo), master’s student S. Alex Yun, and Professors Mei Nagappan and Jesse Hoey received the ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Artifact Award for “Effects of Personality Traits on Pull Request Acceptance,” research that reproduced the findings of the paper Influence of Social and Technical Factors for Evaluating Contribution in Github by Jason Tsay, Laura A. Dabbish, James Herbsleb.

In open source software repositories such as GitHub the quality of a coder’s technical contributions is undoubtedly important. But the research conducted by Rahul Iyer, Alex Yun, Meiyappan Nagappan and Jesse Hoey revealed that whether a developer’s contributions on GitHub are accepted by a project manager is just as likely to hinge on key aspects of a developer’s personality and even more so on social factors, providing strong evidence that code is not the only king as was commonly believed and that decisions to accept or reject contributions are based on more than just technical excellence.

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