Sunday 2:30 p.m.–3 p.m.

Software Engineering Research for Hackers: Bridging the Two Solitudes

Tavish Armstrong

Audience level:


Software engineering researchers and hackers don't talk to each other as much as they ought to. This talk aims to bridge that gap, teach practitioners about what research is out there, and spark a "citizen science" movement in software engineering. I'll explain how to study your own projects and get academics to pay attention. Together, we can learn how to develop better software.


In 2012, Greg Wilson and Jorge Aranda published an essay titled ["Two Solitudes"][solitudes] that decried the gulf between software engineering practitioners and researchers. They compared this unwillingness for the two sides to talk to each other to the unwillingness of Anglophones and Francophones to talk to one another in Canada -- the original Two Solitudes. At PyCon Australia 2013, Alex Gaynor presented a keynote titled "Programming and Programmers". He lamented the state of the art in software engineering and raised many interesting questions. Many of these questions are actively being researched in academia, but you wouldn't know it, because academics aren't talking to practitioners. And even if you did know about this research, you wouldn't be able to read it without paying an arm and a leg for access. This talk aims to bring the two solitudes closer together. I will discuss what research is being done, who is doing it, and what they want from open source developers. Perhaps more importantly, I'll talk about what open source developers might want from *them*. Finally, I will present a plan for tricking academia into paying attention to the Python ecosystem. [solitudes]: