Open source contributors sought for an interview

MANAGING OPEN SOURCE PROJECTS ON GITHUB — SUCCESS FACTORS AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

As a part of my, Julia Seeger’s, MSc Dissertation in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews I am looking for volunteers for an interview. This interview is a part of a research project focussed on success factors and performance indicators of managing open source projects hosted on GitHub.

I am looking for core contributors to open source projects hosted on GitHub. Ideally, the project should have configured and make use of Travis CI, and should have a history of pull requests before and after the configuration of Travis CI.

I would firstly be interested in your opinion about success factors and performance indicators that I have identified by analysing the public GitHub repository of your project with the help of the GitHub API. I will ask if, as a core contributor of the project, you would agree or disagree with my findings. Secondly, I am interested in your personal experience in managing a repository of an open source project on GitHub, and the factors and managing techniques you identified to be important for a successful project.

The interview will take place in a form of a video or an audio call via Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. The interview will take place during July 2020, consists of 6 questions and will last around 25 minutes. If you agree to participate, questions will be given to you at least three days in advance.

If you are willing to participate, please get in touch using the contact details below. You will then be given a Participant Information Sheet that further details my research, and will have the opportunity to ask questions, before being asked whether you consent to participate.

Contact Details

Researcher: Julia Seeger
js433@st-andrews.ac.uk

Supervisor: Dr. Alexander Konovalov
alexander.konovalov@st-andrews.ac.uk

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship for Nguyen Dang

Congratulations to Dr Nguyen Dang, who has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. The 3 year Fellowships are intended to assist those at an early stage of their academic careers to undertake a significant piece of publishable work. Nguyen will be researching Constraint-based automated generation of synthetic benchmark instances.

Abstract summary: “Combinatorial problems such as routing or timetabling are ubiquitous in society, industry, and academia. In the quest to develop algorithms to solve these problems effectively, we need benchmark instances. An instance is an example of the problems at hand for testing how well an algorithm performs. Having rich benchmarks of instances is essential for algorithm developers to gain understanding about the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches, and ensure successful applications in practice. This fellowship will provide a fully automated system for generating valid and useful synthetic benchmark instances based on a constraint modelling pipeline that supports several algorithmic techniques.”

Winnability of Klondike Solitaire research features in Major Nelson’s video podcast

Research carried out by Charlie Blake and Ian Gent to compute the approximate odds of winning any version of solitaire features in Major Nelson’s Video Podcast [Interview with Ian and Charlie starts 23:56] for XBox news today.

Today is National Solitaire Day and the 30th anniversary of the game. The celebrations include an invitation to participate in a record breaking attempt at the most games of Microsoft Solitaire completed in one day. You can download the collection free or play it through your browser.

The Klondike Solitaire research also featured in the New Scientist last year.
Link to the full paper on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.12314

Online article published in Technology Nov 17th 2019: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2223643-we-finally-know-the-odds-of-winning-a-game-of-solitaire/

The Serums Project Consortium meeting

This Week Dr Juliana Bowles brought together nine leading academic and industry partners for the 4th Consortium meeting for the Serums project.

The project aims to produce tools and technologies to support future-generation healthcare systems that will integrate home-based healthcare into a holistic treatment plan, reducing cost and travel-associated risks and increasing quality of healthcare provision.

For further information on the project visit the Serums website

Image and text provided by Annemarie Paton

Modern practices of sharing computational research

Event details

  • When: 11th February 2020 15:00 - 16:00
  • Where: Phys Theatre C
  • Format: Talk

As a part of the Love Data Week, Alexander Konovalov will give a talk on Tuesday 11 February, 3pm, Physics Lecture Theatre C.

Abstract: Have you been frustrated by trying to use someone else’s code which is non-trivial to install? Have you tried to make supplementary code for your paper to be easily accessible for the reader? If so, you certainly know that this may require non-trivial efforts. I will demonstrate some tools that may help to create reproducible computational experiments, and will explain which skills will be needed to use these tools. The talk will demonstrate examples in Python and R runnable in Jupyter notebooks. You are welcome to bring your laptop to try these examples online. No prior knowledge of programming is required.

Links:

  • Templates for reproducible experiments in GAP, Python and R
  • Code4REF guidance on recording research software in Pure

References:

Georgios Gerasimou (University of St Andrews): Frontiers in computational revealed preference analysis

Event details

  • When: 17th February 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

RESCHEDULED: please note the changed date and a non-standard time!

Abstract: Prest is a recently published piece of open-source software for computational revealed preference analysis that provides novel ways to estimate decision makers’ preferences over choice alternatives by analysing their observable choice behaviour. This software is informed by classic as well as recent developments in economic revealed preference theory. Some of the recent developments take the form of models that are computationally complex. This complexity currently hinders the inclusion of these models in the Prest toolkit. The presentation will first aim to describe the primary ideas underpinning Prest and illustrate them with examples from its existing toolkit. It will then proceed with a discussion of some of the challenges pertaining to the expansion of that toolkit with more models and operations. The presentation will be self-contained and no prior background in economics will be necessary.

Speaker Bio: Georgios is a Reader in Economics at the University of St Andrews, working mainly on decision theory and revealed preference analysis. In the latter research programme, Georgios’ work aims to improve our understanding of people’s decision processes and preferences through theoretical, experimental/empirical as well as computational methods. Georgios co-developed the Prest software program for computational revealed preference analysis (https://prestsoftware.com/).

Philippe Palanque (University of Toulouse): Harnessing Usability, UX and Dependability for Interactions in Safety Critical Contexts

Event details

  • When: 3rd February 2020 11:00 - 12:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Series: SACHI Seminar Series, School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

Abstract: Innovation and creativity are the research drivers of the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community which is currently investing a vast amount of resources in the design and evaluation of “new” user interfaces and interaction techniques, leaving the correct functioning of these interfaces at the discretion of the helpless developers. In the area of formal methods and dependable systems the emphasis is usually put on the correct functioning of the system leaving its usability to secondary-level concerns (if at all addressed). However, designing interactive systems requires blending knowledge from these domains in order to provide operators with enjoyable, usable and dependable systems. The talk will present possible research directions and their benefits for combining several complementary approaches to engineer interactive critical systems. Due to their specificities, addressing this problem requires the definition of methods, notations, processes and tools to go from early informal requirements to deployed and maintained operational interactive systems. The presentation will highlight the benefits of (and the need for) an integrated framework for the iterative design of operators’ procedures and tasks, training material and the interactive system itself. The emphasis will be on interaction techniques specification and validation as their design is usually the main concern of HCI conferences. A specific focus will be on automation that is widely integrated in interactive systems both at interaction techniques level and at application level. Examples will be taken from interactive cockpits on large civil commercial aircrafts (such as the A380), satellite ground segment application and Air Traffic Control workstations.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Philippe Palanque is Professor in Computer Science at the University Toulouse 3 “Paul Sabatier” and is head of the Interactive Critical Systems group at the Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse (IRIT) in France. Since the late 80s he has been working on the development and application of formal description techniques for interactive system. He has worked for more than 10 years on research projects to improve interactive Ground Segment Systems at the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and is also involved in the development of software architectures and user interface modeling for interactive cockpits in large civil aircraft (funded by Airbus). He was involved in the research network HALA! (Higher Automation Levels in Aviation) funded by SESAR programme which targets at building the future European air traffic management system. The main driver of Philippe’s research over the last 20 years has been to address in an even way Usability, Safety and Dependability in order to build trustable safety critical interactive systems. He is the secretary of the IFIP Working group 13.5 on Resilience, Reliability, Safety and Human Error in System Development, was steering committee chair of the CHI conference series at ACM SIGCHI and chair of the IFIP Technical Committee 13 on Human-Computer Interaction.

 

Nguyen Dang (University of St Andrews): Hyper-Parameter Tuning for an evolutionary algorithm

Event details

  • When: 11th February 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

Abstract: In this talk, I will present a case study to illustrate how automated algorithm configuration can be used to gain insights into theoretical results on an evolutionary algorithm, namely the (1+(λ,λ)) Genetic Algorithm. This work is a collaboration with Carola Doerr.

The (1+(λ,λ)) Genetic Algorithm is an evolutionary algorithm that has interesting theoretical properties. It is the first algorithm where the benefit of crossover operator is rigorously proved. It is also the first example where self-adjusting parameter choice is proved to outperform any static parameter choice. However, it is not very well understood how the hyper-parameter settings influences the overall performance of the algorithm. Analyzing such multi-dimensional dependencies precisely is at the edge of what running time analysis can offer. In this work, we make a step forward on this question by presenting an in-depth study of the algorithm’s hyper-parameters using techniques in automated algorithm configuration.

Speaker bio: Dr Nguyen Dang is a post-doc in the Constraint Programming group at the University of St Andrews. Her main research focus is on automated algorithm configuration, algorithm selection and their applications in various contexts. These techniques make use of statistical methods and machine learning for fine-tuning of algorithm parameters, assessing parameters’ importance and building algorithm portfolios. Another line of her research is about solving combinatorial optimisation problems using metaheuristic algorithms.

Need new software or an interface? Our students can help you design it for free! First deadline Friday 20th December

We are looking for five projects from within the University that have to do with creating new software and/or hardware. Suitable projects can come from individual researchers, practitioners/companies, Schools, or any Departmental Unit that is thinking about building some software or hardware system that will be facing humans (this includes the public, but also experts of any kind or any type of populations, such as children).

The MSc students of our module CS5042 – User Centered Interaction Design – will be performing a contextual analysis of the environment, extracting user interface requirements and providing up to a medium level fidelity design prototype, with the option to further taking this on to working prototype stage during their MSc project during the summer.

In the past, our students have successfully completed designs for the following types of systems:

  • Interactive exhibitions for museums and Edinburgh City of Culture
  • A health smartphone application interface for CIGNA, a health insurance provider
  • An integrated public display messaging system for the library
  • An interactive entrance welcoming system for the entrance of the School of Computer Science
  • An interactive laterality testing tool for the School of Medicine
  • An interface design for a system which measures peoples vital signals at a distance using cameras for Beyond Medics Limited
  • Novel web-based and mobile applications to explore literary collections

If you think your project could use this kind of help, please send to us by e-mail (cs5042.lec@cs.st-andrews.ac.uk):

  • Your name, e-mail address, and phone number
    A sentence or two about what kind of project you have in mind

We will then get in contact with you to briefly explore the options. No commitment necessary at this point. Everything is, of course, free, and this could be a great opportunity for you to explore a tentative system, even if you are not sure that you will need it.

Thank you very much for considering this.

Please feel free to forward this far and wide to other colleagues who may find this useful.

Many thanks,

Uta Hinrichs and Kenneth Boyd

cs5042.lec@cs.st-andrews.ac.uk