PPIG 2008 - 20th Annual Workshop 10 - 12 Sep 2008, Lancaster, UK

Wednesday, 10 September

10.30 - 13.00: Doctoral Consortium

The Doctoral Consortium will take place in InfoLab21 (location 51 on this map).

Please arrive in good time if you are attending the doctoral consortium. Tea and Coffee will be available from 10.15am. A buffet will be served at lunch time.

13.30 - 14.00: PPIG 2008 Registration

The conference will take place at the Chaplaincy Centre (location 20 on this map).

Please arrive in good time. Tea and Coffee will be available from 13.30.

14.00: Conference Opening and Keynote 1

Keynote speaker: Alan Dix (Lancaster University)

As We May Code - The art (and craft) of computer programming in the 21st century

It is now 50 years since Knuth published the first volume of “The art of computer programming”. This and the succeeding volumes (still being produced) form the definitive and monumental achievement in traditional algorithmics. However, the practice of programming has changed dramatically in recent years. Some changes are obvious: the use of technology in coding - from coding forms and punch cards to IDEs; the languages for coding - from Fortran and assembler to JavaScript and bytecode; and even the paradigms of coding - from procedures to objects. However, there are also more subtle, and possibly more fundamental changes that transform the way coders now think about their code and the very act of coding and hence affect centrally the understanding of the psychology of programming. In this talk I will try to draw out some of these changes writing from experience as a HCI ‘expert’, as a teacher and, perhaps most importantly, as a coder.

Alan Dix is Professor of Human Computer Interaction at Lancaster University. He has represented the UK at the International Mathematical Olympiad, and has published influential books and papers on a variety of subjects. His books include: A. Dix, Formal Methods for Interactive Systems, 1991; A. Dix, J. Finlay, G. Abowd and R. Beale, Human-Computer Interaction, 1998; and J. Finlay, A. Dix, An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, 1996. Alan lists his interests as “Just about everything”.

15.00: Technical Papers: Program Comprehension

Khaironi Y. Sharif and Jim Buckley Observing Open Source Programmers’ Information Seeking

Bennett Kankuzi and Yirsaw Ayalew An MCL Algorithm Based Technique for Comprehending Spreadsheets

Christopher Douce The Stores Model of Code Cognition

16.00: Break - Tea and Coffee Served

16.30 - 17.50: Technical Papers: Core Beliefs

Alan F. Blackwell, Luke Church and Thomas Green The Abstract is an Enemy: Alternative Perspectives to Computational Thinking

Judith Segal Scientists and Software Engineers: A Tale of Two Cultures

Chris Exton Thinking about Thinking in Objects: Methods, Findings and Implications from a Psychological Perspective

19.30: Evening Reception at InfoLab21

There will be a social event and dinner at InfoLab21 (Location 51 on this map).


Thursday 11th September

09.15: Keynote 2

Keynote Speaker: Margaret-Anne Storey (University of Victoria)

Source Code Comments: Graffiti or Information?

Source code is a formal, unambiguous language that is both machine and human readable. Source code comments, on the other hand, enhance only human understanding and communication by providing additional information about the system and the processes used to develop it. Interestingly, many developers either hate or love comments, while others add them to their programs but often in an ad hoc manner. In this talk, I will explore the role of source code comments on program comprehension, referring to both the cognitive and social aspects of how they are used. First, I will review theories and studies, some that are now over 30 years old, which capture what we know today on this topic. Next I will describe our ongoing work that investigates how source code comments and annotations support reminding and refinding in software development. Finally, I will conclude by proposing that more empirical and social studies on how comments influence program comprehension are needed. I will also put forward ideas for improved tool support for authoring, navigating and managing source code comments.

Dr. Margaret-Anne Storey is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Victoria, a Visiting Scientist at the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies in Toronto and a Canada Research Chair in Human Computer Interaction for Software Engineering. She is one of the principal investigators for CSER (Centre for Software Engineering Research in Canada) and an investigator for the National Center for Biomedical Ontology, US. Her research goal is to understand how technology can help people explore, understand and share complex information and knowledge. She applies and evaluates techniques from knowledge engineering, social software and visual interface design to applications such as collaborative software development, program comprehension, medical ontology development, and learning in web-based environments.

10.15: Technical Papers: Pair Programming

Stephan Salinger and Lutz Prechelt What Happens During Pair Programming?

Laura Plonka A Comparison Between Student and Professional Pair Programmers

11.05: Break - Tea and Coffee Served

11.30: Technical Papers: Software Development

Luke Church and Alan F. Blackwell Structured Text Modification Using Guided Inference

Meurig Beynon, Russell Boyatt and Zhan En Chan Intuition in Software Development Revisited

Zahid Hussain, Martin Lechner, Harald Milchrahm, Sara Shahzad, Wolfgang Slany, Martin Umgeher, and Peter Wolkerstorfer Integrating Extreme Programming and User-Centered Design

Martin Lechner XP Team Psychology - An Inside View

13.00: Lunch - Buffet

14.00: Technical Papers: Factors Affecting Coding

David Greathead MBTI Personality Type and Student Code Comprehension Skill

Adrian Creegan and Chris Exton A Longitudinal Study of Depth of Inheritance and its Effects on Programmer Maintenance Effort

Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, Willem-Paul Brinkman, Robert M. Hierons Towards a Computer Interaction-Based Mood Measure Instrument

15.00: Break - Tea and Coffee Served

15.30 - 17.30: Tutorials

These tutorials are to be run in parallel and are free to conference delegates

Tutorial: Luke Church (University of Cambridge) and Thomas Green (University of Leeds)

The Cognitive Dimensions of Notation

The CDs framework provides

  • a standardised framework of ‘cognitive dimensions’, each relating to usability experience,
  • where each dimension is (more or less) independent of each of the others,
  • applying to every kind of information artefact (i.e. anything used for storing or manipulating or accessing information - that’s most non-natural things);
  • a background in the experimental literature of cognitive psychology relating to each of the dimensions;
  • a high-level classification of the activities people get up to with technology;
  • and an attempt to say, for each activity, which cognitive dimensions are critical to making that activity successful.

Tutorial: Dave Randall (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Mark Rouncefield (Lancaster University).

Fieldwork for Design

Participants will learn the relevance of theoretical perspectives to the practice of fieldwork (ethnography), and to the problem of capturing social complexity.

  • The practical problems, strategies and choices of the fieldworker in performing observational studies will be discussed.
  • Experiences gleaned from a range of studies in commercial and industrial settings, domestic environments and public spaces - will be examined. For this tutorial there will be a particular emphasis on studies of systems developers.
  • Problems of method, communication and comprehension in collaborations between ethnographer and system developer will be presented.
  • There will be online access to comprehensive notes and an annotated bibliography. It will review and build on existing literature on ethnography, systems design, and change management but will endeavour to maintain a practical focus.

19.30: Dinner in Lancaster

An evening meal at The Borough in Lancaster City Centre (there is an extra charge of 20 pounds to attend this).


Friday 12th September

9.30 Announcements

9.40: Technical Papers: Teaching Programming

Walter Milner A Loop is a Compression

Jussi Kasurinen, Mika Purmonen and Uolevi Nikula A Study of Visualization in Introductory Programming

10.30: Special Session (including a break for Tea and Coffee)

11.40: Technical Papers: The Meta Session

David Budgen, Mark Turner, Pearl Brereton and Barbara Kitchenham Using Mapping Studies in Software Engineering

Mark Turner, Rumjit Kaur and Pearl Brereton A Lightweight Systematic Literature Review of Studies about the Use of Pair Programming to Teach Introductory Programming

Glauco de F. Carneiro, Manoel Mendonca The Importance of Cognitive and Usability Elements in Designing Software Visualization Tools

13.00: Lunch - A packed lunch to take outside, lets hope its sunny!

14.00: Keynote 3

Keynote Speaker: Adrian Mackenzie (Lancaster University)

“We want to do for biology what Intel does for electronics”: re-factoring biology as a software engineering enterprise.

The paper describes certain trends in the field of synthetic biology or ‘synbio’ from the perspective of software engineering practices. The nascent field of synbio is relying heavily on software engineering approaches such as modularity, platforms, registries, libraries, standards and re-factoring to develop technologies such as biofuels, drugs, assays, biosensors and crops. The idea is that shared codifications of techniques and processes of biological engineering will lead to an accelerating rate of invention in biology. As well as invoking software engineering as a design philosophy to be ‘ported’ into biology, the everyday practices of synbio are saturated by web software cultures of collaboration and participation (wikis, blogs) as well as relying on web-based technical services (such as DNA synthesis, sequences database and searching tools). One analytical question for sociologies of synbio would be: does the model of software engineering and design abstraction begins to break down in synbio? Based on a small case study of two different synbio projects, this paper will sketch a preliminary answer to that question.

Adrian Mackenzie (Centre for Social and Economic Aspects of Genomics, Lancaster University) researches in the area of technology, science and culture. He has published books on technology: Transductions : bodies and machines at speed, London: Continuum, 2002/6; Cutting code: software and sociality . New York: Peter Lang, 2006, and Wirelessness: Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures, MIT Press, 2008, as well as articles on media, science and culture. He is currently working on practices, ethics and politics of collaboration in synthetic biology.

15.00: Prizes!

Approx 15.15: Close