Distinguished Lecture


"A Software Crisis? 'Please, sir, may I have some more?'"

David Notkin '77, University of Washington

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 4:00 P.M.

Room 368 (CIT 3rd floor)

That there is a "software crisis" has been asserted and repeated for half a century. Software is late and over-budget, software doesn't work well, software is hard to change, software doesn't meet user needs, etc. -- in other words, software sucks!

The astonishing success of the software industry naturally refutes the notion that software is in crisis. Nonetheless, the assertions and repetitions continue: while thoughtful introspection is essential, this is inaccurate and to some degree harmful to the field.

In addition to fleshing out this point of view, I will briefly cover two ongoing research topics: speculative analysis and contextual issues in software testing.

David Notkin was at Brown University, getting an Sc.B. (Bachelor of Schlepping) in 1977. He then became a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, moving from Dutch adviser to Dutch adviser (both of whom served on his dissertation committee). After receiving his Ph.D. in 1984, he became a colleague of a set of infamous Brown alums -- Lazowska, Zahorjan, Sloan, Salesin, Popovic, etc. -- along with many others during his nearly three decades at Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. His research area, established during his vulnerable years as an undergraduate, has focused primarily on ways to better understand and to simplify our ability to evolve software systems.

When Notkin kvells, it's about his 19 advised/co-advised Ph.D. students, who skipped over his toes to climb directly upon his shoulders. (OK, and about his wonderful family!) Along the way, he received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award and the UW Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, He is an ACM and an IEEE Fellow, was elected thrice to the CRA Board, was a founding co-chair of the NCWIT Academic Alliance, was SIGSOFT Chair, recently completed two terms as EIC of ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, and has served in a number of roles at major software engineering conferences (including serving as General Chair of the International Conference on Software Engineering in San Francisco in May 2013).

As a crucial concluding note, Notkin was a starter in the first intercollegiate Ultimate frisbee game played at Brown.

Host: Shriram Krishnamurthi