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Assistant professor receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award


A major national grant received by an NDSU computer science assistant professor will be used to help develop more effective methods to test software, enhance computer science curriculum and provide opportunities for student researchers. 

Hyunsook Do, assistant professor of computer science, received a Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation. Do will receive a five-year, $500,000 award from the foundation to conduct research outlined in her proposal, titled “Context-aware Regression Testing Techniques and Empirical Evaluations of Their Economic Impact.” She is the first member of the computer science department at NDSU to receive a CAREER award.

When developers create, enhance and update software programs, regression analysis is used to find and fix bugs in the software code, a time-consuming process that is responsible for a significant percentage of software costs. Do’s research program will lay a foundation to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of regression testing techniques and strategies in practical ways. The potential discoveries made by this research are expected to promote software dependability. The research is expected to: create cost-effective regression testing strategies to address the testing process and domain contexts; create regression testing strategies that address system lifetimes; create economic models that enable the adequate assessment of techniques and strategies; and evaluate and refine these techniques and strategies through rigorous empirical approaches. 

Do notes that while some progress in this area of research has been achieved, three important aspects of the regression testing problem have not been considered. “Most regression testing research has focused on creating new techniques, and very little work has considered factors involving the context in which testing occurs,” said Do, “but context factors are very important in practical testing situations for identifying and assessing appropriate regression testing techniques.”

In addition, most research has taken a snapshot view of regression testing, using an approach centering on single systems versions. “This approach, however, ignores the fact that regression testing is performed repeatedly across a system’s lifetime, and techniques may exhibit different cost-benefit tradeoffs when assessed across entire system lifetimes than when assessed relative to individual versions.” According to Do, most empirical evaluations of regression testing techniques have relied on limited metrics and have not considered the economic impact of the techniques. “To properly assess regression testing techniques and strategies in terms of economic benefits, we need economic models that capture important cost factors and quantify benefits.”

Graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in Do’s research and will focus on two common application domains that require different testing processes: large-scale industrial applications and Web applications that require frequent patches. The overall goal of the research is to develop more effective regression testing techniques for the software industry and foster additional research in the field.

Do also will use the CAREER award to enhance current graduate course curriculum and to develop a new graduate course on software testing and its economic implications. “Most important overall, the discoveries my students and I make will promote software dependability, with potential benefits to organizations and persons who depend on that software,” Do said.

“Dr. Hyunsook Do provides a great example of successful work/life balance in a discipline, computer science, not known for being exceeding hospitable toward women. She has attained one of the highest honors in her profession. Dr. Do is an absolutely solid role model for young academics and especially young women. We commend her on her achievements,” said Brian Slator, chair of the computer science department.

“Dr. Do is leading the way for a superb group of young investigators in a very strong computer science department,” said Kevin McCaul, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Since 1996, 16 faculty members at NDSU have received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards. “NDSU researchers continue a standard of excellence that reflect the institution’s ability to attract the best and the brightest among new faculty researchers,” said Philip Boudjouk, vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer. 

Overall, National Science Foundation CAREER awardees at NDSU have received more than $6.8 million in grants to conduct research in biology, chemistry, civil and electrical engineering, computer science, pharmaceutical sciences, and coatings and polymeric materials. NSF CAREER awardees currently at NDSU include faculty members Gregory Cook, Seth Rasmussen, Wenfang Sun, Sivaguru Jayaraman and Uwe Burghaus in chemistry and biochemistry; Sanku Mallik in pharmaceutical sciences; Magdy Abdelrahman, Xuefeng Chu, Kalpana Katti and Eakalak Khan in civil engineering; Kendra Greenlee in biological sciences; and Hyunsook Do in computer science.

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