Lunds Tekniska Högskola

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Bringing order in the information space


Name: Markus Borg
Age:  30
Living in: Malmö. Commuting to Lund.
PhD supervisor: Per Runeson
Something you didn’t know about Markus: He tries to maintain the Swedish Wikipedia

Markus Borg’s research aims to support the engineers working in today’s dynamic information space. His primary focus is on “Aligning Requirements and Verification”. Markus Borg is a Ph.D. Student in the Software Engineering Research Group at the Department of Computer Science in Lund, and his work is done in collaboration with Blekinge Institute of Technology.

– I’m looking into some of the challenges involved in the navigation of development artifacts maintained in large software engineering projects. The high number of requirements, test cases, issue reports, and source code files can really be difficult to overview - especially when aspects such as distributed development and product line engineering further complicate the everyday life of the developer. My research aims at supporting the ‘poor engineers’ working in this dynamic information space, says Markus Borg.

Information access and findability are two concepts that are important in any context. Besides, Markus Borg believes that search technologies are really interesting to study. The research progress on search, especially on the web, has greatly changed the world.

– It feels really meaningful to explore how findability can be improved in the software engineering context. It is a challenge I’ve personally experienced as a developer: the challenge of finding the right information when needed, he says.

So far the project has focused on safety-critical software development. In this context there are formalized standards that put rigorous requirements on the development process, e.g., on software traceability throughout the entire product lifecycle. Looking at such traces as links between development artifacts, Markus and his team have been able to construct large networked structures, i.e., semantic networks of software artifacts. Networks open possibilities for sophisticated search solutions and tailored recommendation systems. The research suggests that issue reports – the individual issue tickets in issue repositories – can act as hubs in such networks, connecting various development artifacts.

Since it is very hard to study information overload in an isolated lab setting, collaboration with industry is absolutely necessary to understand its impact in realistic contexts. Markus and his team have learned much from talking to practitioners and studying their development artifacts.

– Searching for project information is time-consuming. Information is often spread out in different systems with poor interoperability. Also, there is rarely a consistent information strategy specifying for example how to properly use meta-information, says Markus Borg.

– Our close collaboration with industry is the major strength of my research group. When talking to PhD students from universities in other countries it really becomes evident that the academy-industry climate in Skåne and Blekinge is special, he says.

Finally: Why did you actually became a researcher within this area?

– Computer science has interested my since I was a child. My older brothers became interested in programming early and I got curios. After my studies in computer science and engineering at LTH I started working as a software developer at ABB in Malmö. Due to an offshoring policy the development organization in Malmö was reduced. At the same time I got an opportunity to start as a PhD student at LTH.