Reporting from ICSE’18

The biggest software engineering conference, bringing together both academia and industry, is the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). Thus, it’s only fitting that also a PervComp representative would attend the conference to sniff around on new trends in research and insights from practitioners, in addition to meeting a whole heap of new people (1700+ attendees this year!). This year the conference was conveniently held in Gothenburg, 30.5.-1.6.2018.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of ICSE, and there were appropriate celebrations in place. The organizing committee had pulled out all stops by getting keynotes from Fred Brooks and Margaret Hamilton.

On the first day of conference a new event, the Industry Forum, was organized, to further aid bridging the gap between academia and industry. The event brought talks and panels from industry representatives, as well as a variety of social events (including speed dating!) to help networking.

Artificial intelligence was a hot topic, and it was seen in many keynotes both for the main conference and for the SEIP (Software Engineering in Practice) track.

As a representative of academia, the SEET (Software Engineering Education and Training) track is also always particularly interesting, and this year there were really interesting presentations particularly on teaching project management (leading to a nice exchange of thoughts in Twitter!), how to handle a massive course which requires attendance on campus (solution: Slack!) and how to ensure better gender equality in student selection – starting from really paying attention on how we promote our programs to high school students.

From the Finnish point of view, DevOps appeared already in one keynote, but otherwise the buzzword of processes was still Agile, and particularly the Scaled Agile Framework, which was a particularly hot topic in the context of Global Software Engineering and appeared in many presentations at ICGSE (International Conference on Global Software Engineering), which was arranged co-located with ICSE 28.-29.5..

I also had a chance to attend the workshop RAISE (Realizing Artificial Intelligence Synergies in Software Engineering), from which one should note Tim Menzies’ keynote. To all those still unfamiliar with the field of Search-Based Software Engineering, heads up – even NASA uses evolutionary algorithms.

The conference is such a big event it needs to be well-organized, and the Swedes did it well. The saddest thing was that there was only one of me and over 4 parallel tracks, so at times one had to make tough choices on which presentation to listen to. To all interested, ICSE proceedings are freely available for all on the conference homepage:


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3DFysio -projekti: Kokemuksia sovelluskehityksestä etäkuntoutushankkeessa

Toimin sovelluskehittäjänä 3DFysio-projektissa. Olen vastannut ohjelmiston toteutuksesta Kinesolla jo ennen hanketta ja sen aikana. Olen toteuttanut melkoisen osan projektin käyttöliittymästä, ja erityisesti kaikki tämän hankkeen puitteissa toteutetut käyttöliittymän osat. Hankkeen aikana olen saanut etsiä järkevimmät tavat toteuttaa hankkeen asettamat vaatimukset sovelluksessa. Esimerkiksi toteutin ohjelmistoon kommunikaatiotyökalun, jolla kuntoutujat ja fysioterapeutit voivat lähettää viestejä toisilleen – vähän kuin WhatsApp, mutta ohjelman sisällä. Olen myös toiminut hankkeen teknisenä ongelmanratkaisijana: olen toteuttanut ohjelmistoon uusia toiminnallisuuksia sekä korjannut käyttäjien raportoimia virheitä ja epäkohtia ohjelmistossa.

Projektissa todella mielenkiintoista on ollut nähdä miten loppukäyttäjät ovat reagoineet toteuttamiini ominaisuuksiin. Käyttäjillä on usein paljon erilaisia näkökulmia, joiden välillä pitää tasapainotella. Sekä negatiivista että positiivista palautetta on riittänyt. Teknologiavalinnoista johtuen olen joutunut paikoin vaikeaankin tilanteeseen yrittäessäni löytää luovia teknisiä ratkaisuja ympäristön luomiin haasteisiin. Teknisistä haasteista huolimatta sovellus on vastaanotettu positiivisesti, ja joskus mielestäni vähemmän onnistuneet ominaisuudet on yllättäen vastaanotettu hyvin.

3DFysio-projektissa suunnittelun lähtökohtana on alusta lähtien ollut hyvä käyttökokemus. Tämä kattaa ohjelmiston sellaiset aspektit kuten käytön sujuvuus, responsiivinen käyttöliittymä sekä ohjelmiston käyttöönoton tekeminen mahdollisimman helpoksi uusille käyttäjille. Toisaalta isoimmat ongelmat ovat ilmenneet lähes yksinomaan käyttökokemuksen ongelmina. Tämä kertoo käyttökokemuksen merkityksestä ohjelmistokehityksessä.

Hankkeen aikana on korostunut sovelluksen rooli fysioterapeutin ja kuntoutujan välisen keskustelun edesauttajana. Käyttäjien toiveesta toteutettu kommunikaatiokanava on ollut suosittu ominaisuus siinä missä liikkeiden 3D-animaatiotkin. Projektin alkuvaiheissa keskityimme paljon 3D-animointi-osuuteen, mutta saimme huomata että käyttäjät kokivat ohjelmiston sisäisen kommunikaatiokanavan todella hyödylliseksi.

Viimeisenä huomiona haluan todeta, että olen huolissani fysioterapian digitalisaation potentiaalista etäännyttää fysioterapeuttia ja kuntoutujaa. Aivan kuten vanhustenhoitokin nykyaikana etäännyttää vanhuksia paitsi sukulaisista myös hoitajista. Haluaisinkin esittää lukijalle kysymyksen: miten tällaista teknologiaa voitaisiin parantaa siten, että se toisi fysioterapeutin ja kuntoutujan lähemmäs toisiaan?

Kirjoittanut Henri Lunnikivi 3DFysio-projektista

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Kactus2 version 3.6.0 released

Kactus2 version 3.6.0 has been released.  In the latest version we have complemented the graphical editing options with a command-line interface for batch jobs and repeated generation tasks.  We also expanded support for view-specific component configurations in pursuit for better configurability as outlined already in our previous post. A new plugin is available for generating Linux device tree for any hardware platform designed in Kactus2. For full details on the updates, see release notes in GitHub, or get the installer to try it yourself. Kactus2 runs on both Linux and Windows platforms. For more information on Kactus2 and IP-XACT, see the Kactus2 project webpage.

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Timo Viitanen’s Defence on Hardware Accelerators

M.Sc. Timo Viitanen’s doctoral dissertation defence on Hardware Accelerators for Animated Ray Tracing took place on a warm and sunny Friday 25.5. The opponent was Dr. Samuli Laine, Principal Research Scientist at NVIDIA, and the Custos was Prof. Jarmo Takala from the Department of Pervasive Computing.

Ray tracing is one way for computers to paint images with, e.g., reflections, transparent objects, and even full physics-based simulation of the propagation of light. Ray tracing in real-time has been a long-time goal (or pipe dream) in computer graphics, and recently there have been major efforts by the video game and GPU industries in this direction. In his dissertation, Timo studied how add extra hardware to GPUs so as to help make ray tracing work in the difficult case of animated scenes which contain moving characters and objects.

The defence started with background presentations with Timo going through a short history of graphics, and the opponent expanding on the challenges of modern photorealistic rendering. An interesting discussion followed, starting with general questions on the background and motivation of the thesis, and then moving on to a technical review. The defence concluded around two hours fifteen minutes with the honorable opponent recommending the dissertation to be accepted.

Happy kustos and defender after a successful discussion

Text and pics: Timo Viitanen / Matias Koskela

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Robot-Assisted Break Exercises

Me and Nao robot were invited in Taitaja2018 event to lead some physical exercises for the visitors in the international Skills for the Future seminar as well as on the Lumate stand. The purpose was to run a short exercise session in between the speakers on the seminar, and also several pop up exercise sessions on the fair stand.  Because we know that physical exercise is good for each of us. And because social robots can be efficient motivators and provide a totally new experience for exercising. At least if they happen to have a good day.

Nao, ready to exercise with people?

Nao’s mood was changing during the day – the first thing that it did in the morning was doing nothing. It was totally frozen. We had advertised the robot-assisted exercises and there were plenty of people gathered around Nao and me. Let’s start then.. and then nothing happened! One needs a lot of humour when working with robots. Reboot took 5 minutes and all people had disappeared by then..

Luckily it got into much better mood after the lunch and worked perfectly on the Skills for the Future seminar, which had more than 100 participants from all over the world. The participants were very excited about Nao and enjoyed the short robotic moment consisting of dialogue and exercise with Nao and it’s leader (=Aino). It was just great to see so many happy faces in audience and people really participating the exercises. Ideally, humans and robots can form great workpairs and co-operate smoothly! Later on, Nao also worked on the Lumate stand…

Robot-assisted break exercise session on the Skills for the Future seminar lead by Aino & Nao

Summa summarum, it was a great experience, and this concept can still be developed further (and we will) 🙂

Cheers, Aino A. & Nao

Nao moving kids on the Lumate fair stand

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Training School @ Azores

Hello terve moi everybody!

This year, we (the “Pervs” as we call ourselves) went to Azores for a training school. The Training School on Cryptanalysis of Ubiquitous Computing Systems took place in São Miguel, Azores. The training focus was on theoretical and practical cryptographic mechanisms designed to ensure the security and privacy of ubiquitous computing systems such as embedded devices.

What we though was a great week to get a nice tan and learn the latest trends on Cryptanalysis and Side-Channel Analysis (SCA) turned way too cold, specially when we found out Tampere was warmer that Azores during the whole week. 🙁

In addition to great talks from experts in the field, — which included Joan Daemen (AES), Daniel Gruss (Meltdown and Spectre attacks) and Herbert Bos (Rowhammer attacks) — the training school included sessions to pitch our scientific research and presents posters about our topics.

Research @TUT

The poster session allowed us to showcase our latest research and a safe and friendly environment where experts provided feedback on our research.

We had two workshop sessions during the last two days of training. One of them was “How to have a Meltdown” by Daniel Gruss and the other one was “Defeating SCA countermeasures on a real device” by RISCURE, NL team. Both of them, demonstrating that SCA and related attacks are very practical and represent a real threat to our systems.

Finally, as part of the social activities, we had the opportunity to visit geysers, springs, a protected park and tea plantations with *the only* tea factory working in Europe.


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Shooting the robots on “UX in Robotics” course

Hello everyone, and greetings from “UX in Robotics” course!

Shooting the lecture scene in Language Center.

This time the course teachers Aino and Kirsikka decided to shoot a video to show everyone what interesting things we learn in the UX in robotics course. The filming took place in the main building of Tampere University of Technology, where students from the robotics course volunteered to participate. It was a fun activity for everyone. In the first part of the shooting, Aino was giving lecture and students were interacting with each other. Students interacting with each other followed the second scenario. We then moved on to the next phase, which was making fun cheerleader poses and making of the affinity diagram (one of the field study data analysis methods used on the course).

The scene where the students made a robot prototype out of cardboard.

The shooting continued in the library of Kampusareena where the students created a cardboard prototype and hand drawn sketches of robots. Now we have a new member in our robot family.

Meet the new member of our human-centered robotics family. It does not have a name yet. Any suggestions?

Behind the scenes: There were few interesting incidents happening during the process. I, along with Kirsikka were stuck in the elevator with Pepper. Instead of having a panic attack, we started gossiping about what Pepper would do if we turned it on. We were also discussing what might happen if we see zombies approaching us. During the shooting, Aino shared a heart touching story about her Icelandic horse and soon we started discussing about robot horses. We came up with a new research topic “Human-horse-robot interaction”. We also discussed about “octopus robot” and “granny robot” during the discussion session.

The whole shooting experience was very funny and it will be more fun next year when the UX in Robotics course will run with full force and be worth 5 credit points. Welcome to join the course next year, 4th period! We will post the link to the final video clip as soon as it gets ready.

Cheers, Aparajita Chowdhury
On behalf of the robot family (Aino, Aleksi, Kirsikka, Nao, Pepper, cardboard robot and me)

Small participants can get tired very easily on the video making..


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3DFysio -projekti: Kävelevät tutkimushaastattelut luonnon helmassa

Kevät on parasta aikaa kaivaa esille vanha tuttu Brainwolk -kävelypalaverikonsepti, jota voi soveltaa moneen työtehtävään. Esimerkiksi puhelimitse tehtäviin tutkimushaastatteluihin, kuten me teemme 3DFysio -projektissa. Puolen tunnin mittaiset tutkimushaastattelut on näppärää hoitaa kauniissa ja rentouttavassa kevätluonnossa kävellen – haastattelijakin varmasti kuulostaa rentoutuneemmalta tällä tavalla kuin toimistossa istuen. Kävelyn ja luontokokemuksen hyviä vaikutuksia on varmaan turha alkaa käymään tässä läpi – ne lienevät jo tuttuja kaikille.

Sopivat työkengät käveleviin tutkimushaastatteluihin

Työvälineet kävelevässä haastattelussa ovat seuraavat: printattu haastattelurunko, kännykkä + nauhurisovellus (tarkista toimivuus etukäteen), headset ja sopiva ulkoiluvarustus.

Tarvittavat työvälineet käveleviin haastatteluihin metsätoimistossa (+ työpöytä)

Ja eikun menoksi!


Kerrataan tähän vielä varmuuden vuoksi Brainwolkin pääpointit. Brainwolk on joko pienessä ryhmässä tai yksin tapahtuva kävely, jonka aikana tehdään työtä. Sopivia työtehtäviä ovat mm. puhelinhaastattelut, kehityskeskustelut, ideoinnit, reflektointi, suunnittelu ja palautteen anto. Muistiinpanot voi tehdä joko kirjaamalla pääasiat ranskalaisilla viivoilla paperille (välillä saa pysähtyä, ja kirjoitusalusta on kätevä tähän) tai naururisovelluksella. Brainwolk antaa paljon, vaikka vaatiikin hieman viitseliäisyyttä lähteä ulos. Kävelytehtävän jälkeen olo tuntuu mukavalta ja rentoutuneelta, mutta samalla myös energiseltä, erityisesti jos sää on sattunut suosimaan. 3DFysio -projekti suosittelee kokeilemaan luovasti!

Näkymä metsätoimiston “ikkunasta”

Terveisin, Aino A. “kävelevä tutkija” 3DFysio -projektista

Ps. Mitä kuntoutujat ovat haastatteluissa sanoneet 3DFysio -sovelluksen käyttäjäkokemuksista fysioterapiakuntoutuksen työkaluna? Sehän se meidän tutkimusaiheemme tässä projektissa on. Pääsääntöisesti käyttäjäkokemukset ovat olleet hyviä. Kuntoutujat pitävät erityisesti sovelluksen tavasta näyttää fysioterapialiikkeet animaatioina – ne näyttävät liikkeet tarkasti ja auttavat muistamaan fysioterapiakäynnin jälkeen liikkeiden oikeaoppisen suoritustavan. Toinen erityisen tykätty ominaisuus on  kommunikaatiokanava, jonka avulla kuntoutujat voivat olla yhteydessä fysioterapeuttiin. Kommunikaatiokanavan avulla on mahdollista mm. kertoa muuttuneesta terveydentilasta ja kysellä neuvoja ja mahdollisia muutoksia fysioterapiaohjelmaan. Sen avulla voi myös saada tsemppausta ja kannustusta. Ylipäänsä on koettu hyvänä, että tämmöinen yhteydenpitomahdollisuus on olemassa. Tarkemmat tulokset pilottitutkimuksesta ovat tulossa tämän vuoden loppupuolella, kun kaikilla kuntoutujilla kuntoutus päättyy, ja saamme aineiston analysoitua.

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Conference trip to DATE in Dresden

A short walk from the conference venue is the Kronentor gate of the Zwinger palace.

This year the Design, Automation and Test in Europe conference (DATE) takes place in Dresden, Germany. I had the chance travel to Dresden to demonstrate our recent work RISC-V processor modeling in IP-XACT using Kactus2 at the University Booth. The modeling target is PULPino, a 32-bit RISC-V single-core microcontroller, whose structure and configurations we capture with our open-source graphical IP-XACT design environment Kactus2, The modeling is still a work-in-progress and already covers almost 200 IP-XACT XML files which are available in GitHub. Once completed, the model makes it  easy to integrate PULPino into new designs for e.g. IoT devices. It also serves as a public example of IP-XACT use in a decently complex application, something we have been lacking for years despite the fact that IP-XACT is widely accepted as the industry standard for IP packaging.

Me at the University Booth.

The University Booth exhibits both hardware and software demonstrators and provides a great forum for discussing ongoing research topics. The booths display a great variety of topics: electronic design automation, analog design, mixed-signal design, neural network controllers for autonomous robots, wireless sensor systems and many more. Most demonstrators also run live on a prototype and the tables were served with a wide range of platforms from Raspberry Pis to FPGAs.

After three days at the University Booth, I attended the Embedded Software for Industrial IoTs (ESIIT) workshop on the final day of the conference. This was the first time ESIIT was organized as part of the conference and proved out to be a success with a lot of submissions, attendees and active discussion. The day was filled with great talks, poster presentations and discussion around the broad topic of industrial IoTs. A lot of attention was given to modeling and meta-modeling as a part of the design flow, firmware optimizations and power management. My invited talk Bridging the Gap between Hardware Description Languages and IP-XACT focused on easing the transition of legacy code bases to IP-XACT supported design flow.

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What’s for lunch, Pepper?

Our Pepper is learning new tricks. After becoming a TV star, Pepper decided to try a new occupation, and ventured out to the field last Friday, March 16th. You may have spotted the friendly robot on that morning at the TUT main building lobby.

Pepper’s one and only task on that day was to help out hungry lunch-goers by showing them the menus of four restaurants on the campus. People could interact with the robot via dialogue, or if it didn’t work out, via the tablet on Pepper’s chest. The test was conducted in Finnish, one person at a time or in groups of 2-4 people, and the active interaction between a human and the robot was quite brief, typically between 30-120 seconds.

So you’d like to see Reaktori’s lunch menu? Okay, Pepper at your service!

The study will become a part of Antero Tossavainen’s PhD in Industrial and Information Management. The aim is to bring the voice of the customer to the fuzzy front-end of new product development. A merry group of students on the Challenge-Based Innovation class also gave many helping hands in recruiting participants and collecting questionnaire forms. And boy, did we need a hand! The trial was supposed to start at 10:30 am, but passers-by began getting interested in Pepper already around 9:30, just a few minutes after we got there and Pepper had settled in and woken up. The target number of participants was 60, but we ended up with about a double that number. So, Antero got a lot of data to analyze… we’ll surely write more about that later.

We sometimes face challenges recruiting participants to user studies. Not on that day.

Although operating Pepper required most of my attention, I managed to jot down some observations about the ways people interacted with Pepper, noticeable issues, and comments I heard people make.

  • Anthropomorphizing (treating the robot as human-like) varies by individual: for example, one person asked, “Who is he?” instead of “What is it?” when seeing the robot for the first time. Perceptions also differed: one person commented after interacting with Pepper: “It is scary!”, whereas another thought its voice was the cutest.
  • Emotions: I could see lots of amusement, occasional frustration, also some apprehension. Obviously some of the emotions may have been brought up by the artificial situation and by being observed by researchers, but the first reactions to the robot were still interesting to witness.
  • Expectations: Some people started the dialogue as if talking to a real person who could understand requests like “Do you have mashed potatoes?”, “Gimme everything”, or “Well let’s see, how about we check that Soossibaari at Konetalo?” Soon they realized that the robot doesn’t (yet) possess that much intelligence and its knowledge is limited, and reverted to simple and brief statements.
  • Speech recognition: Challenging, especially when noisy. One of the restaurants, Newton, was hard for Pepper to understand in spoken form. I mean, really hard. Several people tried it three or four times in different ways (“Nyytton… Nyyton… Newton… Nyyttoni”) before giving up and either selecting it from the tablet or, as happened more often, saying “Reaktori” or some other restaurant. Although I had programmed five variations of the possible pronunciations of the word, it failed to recognize them most of the time. Otherwise Pepper did all right, except for occasional rudeness, such as telling “okay, bon appetit” to a person who was asking it to read the menus out loud and claimed: “I’m blind, I can’t read”. In all fairness, the person wasn’t really blind, so perhaps Pepper detected the deception attempt 😉 In any case, it seems to be quite difficult to make the robot understand foreign names in Finnish, or vice versa. (There may be some sort of a language tag that could be input into the dialogue syntax, though. Something I’ll need to look into.)

All in all, a very good experience on the field! Many thanks to the good people at Industrial and Information Management, and of course to the participants.

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