Data, Results, Myths and Software: the Road to Empirical Software Engineering


April 14, 2011


Christian Bird, Thomas Zimmermann, and Dieter Rombach


Microsoft, MSR, Fraunhofer-IESE


This session will present the results from Microsoft Research and Fraunhofer IESE that leverage empirical software engineering. The first talk presents an analysis to investigate various myths in software development. It looks at results from a wide spectrum of studies ranging from testing, cross –project software quality analysis to socio-technical systems. It also presents various aspects of the different software repositories at Microsoft some of which are not obvious and their implications on software development and productivity.
Then second talk is on empirical evaluations of human-based software engineering methods which create the scientific basis for “engineering” software and reduce risks of software technology transfer.


Christian Bird, Thomas Zimmermann, and Dieter Rombach

Christian is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Davis, where he studies Empirical Software Engineering under advisor Prem Devanbu. He is primarily interested in the relationship between software design and social dynamics in large development projects, and the effects on productivity and software quality. He has studied software development teams at Microsoft, IBM, and in the Open Source realm, examining the effects of distributed development, ownership policies, and the ways in which teams complete software tasks. He is the recipient of the ACM SIGSOFT distinguished paper award, and the “Best Graduate Student Researcher” award in his Department. He has published a “Research Highlight” in CACM and was a National Merit Scholar at BYU, where he received his B.S. in computer science.

Thomas Zimmermann is a researcher in the Empirical Software Engineering Group at Microsoft Research and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. He received the Diploma degree in computer science from the University of Passau and the PhD degree from Saarland University, Germany. His research focuses on systematic mining of version archives and bug databases to conduct empirical studies and to build tools to support developers and managers. His research interests include empirical software engineering, mining software repositories, software reliability, development tools, and social networking. He received two ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Awards for his work at ICSE ’07 and FSE ’08. He co-organized an ICSM working session on Myths in Software Engineering, the DEFECTS ’08 and ’09 and RSSE ’08 and ’10 workshops. He served on a variety of program committees, including ICSE, ECOOP, ISSTA, MSR, PROMISE, ICSM, and the ACM Conference on Recommender Systems. He is PC co-chair for the Mining Software Repositories conferences ’10 and ’11. Visit his homepage at

Prof. Dr. H. Dieter Rombachstudied mathematics and computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and obtained his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Kaiserslautern (1984). Since 1992 he has held the Software Engineering Chair in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Kaiserslautern. In addition, he is the founding and executive director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (Fraunhofer IESE) in Kaiserslautern. From 2006 until 2009, he was also a member of the Management Board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V. and chairman of the Information and Communications Group, which consists of 17 institutes. Prior to being appointed director of Fraunhofer IESE, Prof. Rombach founded the Software Technologie Transfer Initiative (STTI) Kaiserslautern and was its director for four years. This initiative led to the foundation of Fraunhofer IESE. From 2001 to 2006, Prof. Rombach was also a Visiting Professor at the Computer Science Department of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. During the course of the years, Prof. Rombach has declined several university offers (including one to TU Vienna).

Previous career steps included the Institute for Data Processing in Technology at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center (scientist; 1978-79) and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Kaiserslautern (scientist; 1979-1984). This was followed by positions as a guest professor at the University of Maryland and at NASA (1984-1986), as a professor for computer science at the University of Maryland (1986-1991), and as a professor at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland and project manager at the Software Engineering Labor (SEL) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (1986-1991). Prof. Rombach spent the summer semesters of 1988 and 1989 as a visiting professor at the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA.

Prof. Rombach‘s research interests are in the area of “software engineering”, particularly in engineering-style methods for the development of software with predictable quality; quantitative methods for the measurement of software products and processes for the purpose of project management and quality assurance; languages, methods, and tools for the creation and management of development processes on the basis of explicit software process models; as well as empirical methods and their application for determining the effects of software development methods.

In the context of his activities as director of Fraunhofer IESE, Prof. Rombach regularly serves as an expert, auditor, reviewer, and consultant for industry. He provides advisory services to a number of government bodies on the state and federal level as well as on the international level on issues concerning research as well as education and training in the area of computer science and on strategic decisions related to software. Prof. Rombach serves as a scientific adviser to various companies and research institutions.

Prof. Rombach is the author of more than 200 scientific publications. In 1990, he received the “Presidential Young Investigator Award” (endowed with US $ 500.000) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the U.S. for his excellent work in the area of software engineering. In 2000, his contributions to the scientific and economic development of the state were recognized when he was awarded the Service Medal of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate. In 2003, he received the Distinguished Postdoctoral Award of the College for Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the University of Maryland. In the year 2009, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany and the University of Oulu, Finland bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of his lifetime achievements as a software engineer. Since 2009 he has been the chairman of the IEEE Awards Committees for the Software Process Achievement Award (SPA, awarded jointly with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University) and for the Harlan Mills Award.

Furthermore, Prof. Rombach is co-editor of several international journals (e.g., McCluwer Journal for Empirical Software Engineering) and is regularly called upon to act as a program committee member of important software engineering conferences. His appointments include having been the General Chair of the International ACM/IEEE Conference on Software Engineering held in Berlin in 1996 and the Program Co-Chair of the International ACM/IEEE Conference on Software Engineering held in Shanghai in 2006. He is a member of the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) and is a Fellow of the ACM (since 2010) and a Fellow of the IEEE Computer Society (since 2003).