$500,000 Grant to Fund Software Engineering Research
By Five U.T. Dallas Computer Science Faculty Members
Science Foundation Backs Study to Lower Software Costs
RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 24, 2001) - Five faculty members at The
University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) have been awarded a $500,000
for a three-year software engineering study that could lead to vastly
lower development costs on large-scale software projects.
The grant was made by the National Science Foundation to the Embedded
Software Center at UTD for a research project headed by Dr. I-Ling Yen,
associate professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of
Engineering and Computer Science. Yen will be joined in the research by
four of her colleagues in the university’s Department of Computer
Science - Dr. Farokh Bastani, professor; Dr. Yi Deng, associate
professor; Dr. Latifur Khan, assistant professor; and Dr. Edwin Sha,
“Large-scale software is difficult to develop, requires significant
manpower and, therefore, is expensive to create,” said Yen. “At UTD,
we are working on a process that could reduce the manpower requirements
for such projects significantly - perhaps as much as 90 percent.”
According to Yen, research elsewhere has focused on two different
approaches to streamlining software engineering:
- Code generation, where, in
theory, a computer-based tool could be developed to automate the
writing of software code to some extent.
- Component re-use, where
existing software “modules” can be stored, retrieved and assembled
into a customized software program.
UTD’s idea is to meld the best of both methods into a single
process, Yen said, that would greatly reduce the development time and
cost compared to writing a software program from scratch. Possible
beneficiaries of such research, she said, could be manufacturers of
complex systems and devices with significant amounts of “embedded
software,” such as telecommunications equipment like routers, as well
as automobiles, ships, aircraft and defense-related products.
The UTD group’s first task will be to develop a comprehensive
software component repository containing a wide variety of parts of
other software programs, each with a unique set of characteristics and a
specific purpose. The components must then be labeled and organized in a
way so that they may be easily identified and retrieved.
The researchers must also develop computer-based tools and templates
to permit users to customize software components to fulfill the ultimate
aim of the larger software program and to simplify the code selection
and generating processes.
“This is ground-breaking work that we believe will go well beyond
related research done at other universities in terms of scope, direction
and complexity,” Yen said.
In addition to the five faculty members, as many as five graduate
students will be involved in the project as
research assistants. Undergraduate students also will have an
opportunity to take part in the research, including those enrolled in
UTD’s new software engineering degree program.
This fall, UTD became one of just a handful of universities that
grant a B.S. degree in software engineering. Several years ago, the
university became the first institution of higher education in the
United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications
The Jonsson School is one of the fastest-growing schools of
engineering and computer science in the nation. Last year, it ranked
first nationally in the number of computer science degrees awarded to
women and second in the total number of computer science degrees
Last Spring, the university broke ground for
construction of a 152,000-square-foot addition to the Jonsson School.
When completed in July 2002, the new facility will nearly double the
school’s capacity to approximately 5,000 students.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located
at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the
complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the
Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000
graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at
the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT
scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s
and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD,
please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.