Empirical Software Engineering (ESE) is a research group at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki, Finland co-led by professors Tomi Männistö and Jukka Nurminen.

The group addresses software engineering research problems and challenges of industrial relevance and origin and has a strong basis in software engineering, particularly software architectures.

The research interests and activities of the group can best be described by the recent and ongoing projects and other activities. Below are some selected projects with pointers to further information. The list of all our projects is available in Tuhat research portal of the University.

Ongoing Projects

CACDAR (Creative and Adaptive Cooperation between Diverse Autonomous Robots) is a research project (2020–2022), funded by the Academy of Finland) which studies robust software engineering methods to develop flexible software for consumer robots. The focus is on novel software architecture design methods for cooperative robotics drawing from artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing a subfield of AI called computational creativity.  We will use three advancing stages of development and evaluation (an abstract “block world” simulator, a 3D simulator and physical robots operating in real-world scenarios), identifying challenges and opportunities on each stage.

The Academy of Finland project ​Extreme​ ​Continuous​ ​Experimentation​ ​in​ ​Software​ ​Engineering​ ​(xCESE) (Sep 2018–Aug 2022).  Experimentation is a novel, data-oriented way of understanding users and develop software. Some companies already run running hundreds of experiments simultaneously or tens of thousands yearly. We aim at supporting the running of very high numbers of experiments with a theoretically rigorous basis for automating the experiment generation. Ultimately, the automation opens new avenues for creative experiment generators that can explore feature configurations unforeseen by human developers

The 4APIs project funded by Business Finland (Jun 2019–Jan 2021). The role of software and data becomes increasingly important for future competitive advantages. Application Programming Interfaces (API) and their utilization as a platform enabling technology are the keys in the transition from SaaS model to platform thinking. Succeeding in such new technological and business environments requires fundamental developments taking into account and shaping the new rules of the systems and players. In our vision, the key areas are API design principles, complex systems development competencies, and ecosystem creation and management capabilities.

The PEAMS (Platform Economy for Autonomous Mobile Machines Software Development) (Jun 2021 - Mar 2023) project, initiated by Business Finland, aims to research software solutions for intelligent machines. The current state of product development with custom software solutions is not as efficient and does not open new business opportunities. Therefore, one of the main objectives of PEAMS is to investigate whether these issues can be alleviated by transitioning to open-source software. Before proceeding with the actual transition, folks at the University of Helsinki will investigate what are the essential factors for the successful intelligent mobile machine platform and evaluate possible candidates based on the defined criteria.

Long-term Activities

The activities in the area of empirical software engineering include the membership in ISERN (International Software Engineering Research Network). A recent paper in that collaboration: Naming the pain in requirements engineering.

The group has strong background in knowledge-based configuration from its very beginning in 1990’s. See e.g., KBC wiki or our paper on Towards a general Ontology of Configuration from times when some of the group members worked at TKK, currently Aalto University.

Recent Projects

dLearn.Helsinki is a collaboration with the researcher from the Faculty of Educational Sciences in the field of educational tools particularly for learning problem-solving and cooperation skills. The collaboration started  in Helsinki challenge finals, where dLearn.Helsinki was one of the teams. The collaboration has thereafter continued with a TUTL funding from Business Finland investigating the commercialisation potential of the ideas. The project succesfully lead to the founding of a spin-out company TeamFluent in 2020. 

OpenReq – Intelligent Recommendation & Decision Technologies for community-driven requirements engineering was a three-year Eu Horizon 2020 RIA project started in the beginning of 2017 and ended 2019. See the News item on OpenReq.

D4Value was a national project in Finland funded by Tekes and coordinated by DIMECC. The group is participating in the project among the collaborative team from the University of Helsinki, including also the Networking group by Prof. Sasu Tarkoma and Security of Prof. Valtteri Niemi.  

An exciting collaboration with the Discovery research group lead by Prof. Hannu Toivonen for the new research area in the intersection between computational creativity and self-adaptive software, with the goal of developing novel software architectures that can creatively adapt themselves in unforeseen situations. The collaboration was concretely carried out in a CACS (Cooperation-Aware Software and Creative Self-Adaptivity) project funded by Academy of Finland (2018–19). See our paper on this: Aspects of Self-awareness: An Anatomy of Metacreative Systems.

In the N4S Programme the group has been working on the software engineering paradigm called continuous experimentation in which data from real usage of software is collected and analysed for decision-making in software development. See, CE Cookbook (in a post in our blog with link to download), The RIGHT Model for Continuous Experimentation or Transitioning towards continuous experimentation in a large software product and service development organisation – A case study.

The DD-Scale project that investigated Dynamic Distributed Software Development Competencies. See also: DD-SCALE Project Completed

The group was also active in Cloud Software Programme was a large national programme funded by Tekes (from 2010–2013) and the related FidiPro (Finnish Distinguished Professorship) of Prof. Jürgen Münch in the topic Cloud Software Factory. These initiatives concentrated on utilisation of Cloud infrastructure and transition to Agile software development practices.