Welcome to My Weblog!

Hakan ErdogmusHello. I am no longer maintaining this web site. I have been a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University’s Silicon Valley Campus since 2013. I am keeping the posts and pages on this web site for archival purposes.


SES 2013: Software Experts Summit speakers have been announced…

This year’s Software Experts Summit, to be held at Microsoft, Redmond, WA, will feature a new set of great speakers, sharing their insights on harnessing data for smart decision making. They include:

  • James Whittaker, Microsoft
  • Paul Zikopoulos, IBM
  • Wolfram Schulte, Microsoft Research
  • Jeromy Carriere, Google
  • John Howie, Cloud Security Alliance
  • Ayse Bener, Ryerson University
  • Forrest Shull, Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering

Top reasons to attend SES are as valid this year as they were  in 2012. For more information and registration, visit

Software Experts Summit 2013 is coming…

Microsoft will be hosting the 2013 edition of IEEE Software‘s Software Experts in Redmond, WA, on July 17. I’ll be moderating a panel on the theme of the summit: smart data science. Stand by for the roster for this year’s great speakers.

Click here for the press release for the summit.

The web site will be operational soon at



Counterpoint on Lean Software Development

If you subscribe to IEEE Software or have an IEEE Xplore or Computer Society Digital Library subscription and interested in lean software development, you will like the September/October 2012 issue of IEEE Software.  I highly recommend this excellent special issue guest edited by Christof Ebert, Pekka Abrahamsson and Nilay Oza. When the guest editors approached me to write a counterpoint piece, I naturally hesitated. But then I thought it would be a good opportunity to express my frustration with the emphasis on philosophy at the expense of practicality that has been plaguing the agile movement. To me, what matters most is what you do with a philosophy when you hit the ground running and reality stikes. At that moment, the philosophical beauty of your process and all the subtleties of its elegant principles matter little. What counts at the end of the day is what practices you use and which principles you concretely apply on a day to day basis. The meat is in the implementation: the practices and the tools. Punto. See my counterpoint piece against Kati Vilkki.

SES 2012 Podcasts are Available on has posted the presentations from the 2012 edition of Software Experts Summit held in London, UK. Here they are:


2012 Software Experts Summit – Summary

This year’s SES event, sponsored by Software and IEEE Computer Society, ,took place in London, at the headquarters of the British Computer Society. It was great. John Favaro and my talk aptly followed the superb keynote given by Mike Andrews on strategies for ensuring Bing’s scalability and availability and Christof Ebert’s talk on technical debt. Both provided plenty of material for John to use in our part.

Our talk focused on rational and irrational decision making in software development. I concentrated on the role of flexibility under uncertainty, and how flexibility improves decision making under various scenarios. I provided examples from the agile practices, in particular just-in-time decision making and iterative and incremental development.  That tied in nicely with several strategies described by Mike, such A/B testing (aka split runs) and production testing (under controlled roll-out and automatic roll-back), which are among classical examples of flexibility. It also tied in with concepts mentioned by Christof, such as forward-looking decision making (disregarding sunk costs), active management of technical debt, and making the underlying decisions based on trade-offs among interest accrued on such debt, need for future flexibility, and level of uncertainty.

John followed up by describing what prospect theory teaches us about how humans make decisions. He demonstrated how our risk aversion and risk taking behavior feature in everyday decisions, in unexpected and asymmetric ways.  In low-validity environments (in which the quality and reliability of information are low) pure intuition may fail us, while seeming perfectly logical and rational. John circled back to rational decision making by emphasizing the need for maximizing feedback and applying systematic risk policies to counterbalance knee-jerk reactions in one-off situations.

Other speakers were Software department editors Les Hatton and Diomidis Spinellis, followed by a keynote by Michael Feathers. There was also a panel on the growth, ubiquity, and impact of software in non-software industries. The panel was moderated by Michiel van Genuchten, and was based on the Impact column he and Les has been editing. Michael Feather’s insights on intrinsic properties of software and how they relate to technical debt were particularly fresh.  Diomidis Spinellis talked about his experience in managing the IT systems at the Greek Ministry of Finance. Diomidis have been on the news a number of times for his brave efforts in that context. It was pretty eye opening to see how you can affect change with simple, honest, and transparent strategies in a tremendously large and political bureaucracy in times of great turbulence. Alas, courage has a price.

Speakers’ slides should be posted on the SES  2012 site soon. Don’t forget to check back.

Special thanks go to the local organizers Helen Sharp and Neil Maiden, the MC and EIC of Software Forrest Shull, IEEE CS staff, and our sponsor and host BCS.


SES 2012: Top 5 Reasons for Attending the Software Experts Summit

The third edition of the annual Software Experts Summit is upon us. The non-profit event organized by the IEEE Computer Society and IEEE Software will take placeon June 26, 2012. This year the venue is the British Computer Society’s London Office in the UK. Here are top reasons for attending SES’ 2012:

#5 Compact Format with Broad Appeal – Are you looking for a break from your daily business routine to ponder about the bigger picture, but have little time? SES is the perfect occasion. It’s a one-day annual event jam-packed with information that will allow you to focus on strategic issues, unstick your stuck thinking, and broaden your perspective. SES has a broad, multi-level appeal. If you consider yourself to be the kind of reflective practitioner who likes to be on the leading edge, you’ll find valuable insights to take away regardless of your role.

#4 Networking – SES’s intimate structure always provides ample opportunities for networking. Come meet your peers, mingle with the local software community, get to know the editors and staff of a great publication, share your trials and tribulations, brainstorm, ask questions, give advice, get advice, and learn from each other and from experts.  Companies that will be represented at the summit include Groupon, TomTom, Shell, Microsoft, Vector Consulting, Intecs, Oakwook Consulting, and Groupon. Registration is limited, and all sessions are plenary, so you stay with your peers and the speakers all day long.

#3 The Topics – This year’s summit focuses on tackling software development under uncertainty. You’ll discover insights that address software industry’s many burning questions from the trenches and in the context of real-life stories. What does it take to keep Microsoft’s behemoth search engine alive? How do agile thinking and agile software development practices help manage uncertainty? What’s technical debt and why is it important to manage it? What are the dark secrets of software defects that fuel software uncertainty?  What are some great lessons learned from revamping the the IT systems of the Greek Ministry of Finance? Plus, a panel moderated by the editors of IEEE Software’s popular Impact column, Les Hatton and Michiel van Genuchten, will explore the impact of software in other industries with guest panelists from Microsoft, Shell and TomTom. How much more topical can the program get?

#2 The Experts – One of the best reasons to attend the summit is, well… access to the top experts in the field. This year the summit will feature two superb keynote speakers: Mike Andrews from Microsoft and Michael Feathers from Groupon. Additionally, you’ll hear talks from famous IEEE Software personalities: Diomidis Spinellis (Athens University of  Technology), Less Hatton (Oakwood Computing Associates), Christof Ebert (Vector Consulting Services),  and John Favaro (Intecs).

#1 Superb Value  – But the top reason to attend the summit is the full-day program featuring great topics and speakers for an incredibly low early-bird registration fee of £100! Lunch and networking/coffee breaks are included. Plus you get free online issue of IEEE Software. Unbeatable!

So with 5 such good reasons, you can’t afford to miss SES’ 2012. Register now, and join the experts in London. Early-bird registration ends on June 8.

For program and registration visit the SES ‘2012 page here, or download the flyer: SES2012Flyer.

Meet the experts at SES 2012 in London

The third Software Experts Summit will take place in London, UK on June 26, 2012.  As usual, IEEE Software is organizing the event. Speakers include Diomidis Spinellis, Michael Feathers, Mike Andrews and Christof Ebert.

For program and registration visit SES ‘2012 page here.

Empirical Software Engineering Takes Off

American Scientist magazine has recently published an article by Jorge Aranda and Greg Wilson about empirical studies in software engineering based on the book Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It (O’Reilly 2010). You can find the article online at:,y.2011,no.6,content.true,page.1,css.print/issue.aspx.

Prediction Tools for Software Development

At the PROMISE 2011 conference in Banff, Ayse Bener of Ryerson University organized a panel on the future of predictive modelling in software development. Such models are used for quality, productivity, schedule, cost, or profitability estimation and rely on rich historical data, both code- and non-code related, to be successul. Setting them up, collecting the data, and applying the models require much expertise and effort. The economics work only if the results can be acted upon profitably to manage risk, set priorities, and allocate resources. The savings generated must surpass the cost of applying these models. Thus the feasibility of predictive modelling hinges partly on level of automation. That’s where tool support comes into play. As a panel member,  I was asked to comment on this aspect of predictive modelling, focusing on the adoption issue. Specifically, what do we need for widespread tool adoption in this context?

I use the term prediction tool broadly to refer to any implementation of a predictive model or prediction technique, algorithm, or heuristic. I include in the definition any facilities that perform essential input functions such as data identification, extraction, and sanitization, as well as essential output functions such as reporting, summarization and presentation.

Types of Tools

Use of prediction tools is very rare, although we know of several successful examples. I’ll contrast two typical manifestations of such tools:

  • A: stand-alone, one-of-a-kind, intermittently applied facilities (usually collection of scripts and small applications) often intended for use by experts who have developed or commissioned them, and
  • B: stable, deployed components, applications, or services that are part of an existing software development environment and meant for regular use in software teams.

Manifestations that are a mixture or fall somewhere in between exist, but they won’t be useful for making my point.

Tools of type A are most common. Almost all of the noteworthy examples I know of fall under this category. They are relatively cheap to develop, but each application requires expert hands. They are meant to be used by a small minority of very select people.  That alone pretty much explains their home base of large organizations with dedicated metrics, research, or process improvement departments. Indeed, at a session of the International Software Engineering Research Network‘s annual meeting this year (which happened to collocate with PROMISE), we have seen some pretty nifty examples from ABB and Avaya Labs. Type-A tools are thus fine for a large organization where the cost of the required expertise can be amortized over big, corporation-wide initiatives, however they are too resource-intensive for broader adoption.

The alternative to this “do your magic and throw the results over the bench” approach is type-B tools, in which higher up-front development costs by those handful of experts can be amortized across many organizations over more frequent use by multiple roles in software teams themselves. The scope of each use may however be small. This attractive alternative doesn’t necessarily imply that no fine-tuning, hand-holding, or maintenance will ever be needed, but it does imply making information more available and friendly to software teams and decision makers, thus giving them more control over their projects and achieving better visibility.

So let’s limit the scope to type-B tools, say because I’d like predictive modelling to be more readily available to mere mortals. What factors should we look at next to increase the chances of adoption? I’ve organized these factors in two dimensions:

  • factors specific to the goals of prediction, and
  • factors that encourage tool adoption in general.

Continue reading Prediction Tools for Software Development

Don’t miss SES ‘2011

Following up on the smashing success of its first edition in Munich, Germany, IEEE Software is organizing the second edition of Software Experts Summit, this time at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Both the venue and the line of speakers are pretty amazing. Registration cost is $90. Featured speakers include Gary McGraw, Jan Bosch, Grady Booch, Grigori Melnik, Linda Rising, Pekka Abrahamsson, and Rebecca Wirfs-Brock.

For program and registration visit SES ‘2011 page at