WATERS 2012, program and panel discussion

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Giuseppe Lipari

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Jul 4, 2012, 5:28:58 AM7/4/12
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Dear all,

The WATERS program is now on-line. Check it out at http://retis.sssup.it/waters2012/program.php

Every presentation lasts for 25-30 minutes, including questions. 

At 16.30 we will also have a panel open to all participants.

The panel will start with a short presentation by myself, followed by discussion. The topic is: "Software and Academic Research: are we going in the right direction?". 
Here is a short summary of what I would like to discuss with all of the participants. Please comment, and/or send me additional topics you would like to discuss. 

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Problems in our academic domain

  - Sometimes too much emphasis on theory
  - Too much emphasis on "new" research
  - (Too often this is done just to publish yet another paper)  
  - No emphasis on good engineering and design
  - Throw-away programming

  
Consequences of this approach

  Local consequences
  - every time you need to implement your algorithm *and* the other ones
    often trying to understand the algorithm from a loose description 
    in the paper
  - no real data is used/collected, benchmarks are few and kept secret
  - research is finely pulverized in thousand of papers on hundreds of 
    technical journals
  - Hence, difficult to interact with real engineers (we cannot pretend they
    spend so much time reading papers)
  - Too little connection to industry
  - Low impact
  
  - If we (professors) do got give value to software design, neither our PhD 
    students will do
  - For "applied" computer scientists and computer engineers this is terrible, 
    because it means that we are educating generations of future academics and 
    engineers that do not give value to software!!
  - Also, there is less possibility for them to find a job in industry

  
Main reason for this sad state of things

  - Researchers are professionals that try to maximize their ROI (Return On Investment)
  - Revenues depends on publications, h-index, etc.
  - Thus, researchers seek to maximize the number and the quality of 
    their publications
  - Any other activity is a waste of time (from our point of view)
  - Nobody wants to waste time on "programming", something that brings 
    no immediate return on investments
    
    
What do we want? 

  - We would like to change the academic culture, at least a little
  
  - We would like academics to give value to good SOFTWARE
    * PhD students write software for simulation, analysis, comparison
    * They should be acknowleged for their good work (when it's good, of course)

  - We would like academics to give value to not-so-new research that is 
    well done, well designed and well implemented
  
  
How?

  DISCUSSION

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I hope to see you all in Pisa!

Giuseppe Lipari
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