The department had two dissertation defenses in October, first on the 10th Hadaytullah defended his thesis on “Applying Genetic Architectural Synthesis in Software Development and Run-time Maintenance”, and on the 17th Juha-Matti Vanhatupa defended his thesis titled “Tool Support for Computer Role-Playing Game Programming: Foundations, Guidelines and Applications”.
Hadaytullah had used genetic algorithms to automatically improve software quality. His algorithm searches for the software design that can improve its quality, for example, making it faster or adaptable to future changes.
Manually creating and maintaining software is expensive and slow. If we have software systems that are capable of creating and maintaining other software, it could ease our lives and reduce the cost of software.
Software planning is another challenging task where work has to be divided among teams. Each team is different from another in its size, skills or cultural values. Therefore, for a human manager it is challenging to come up with a plan that suits everyone. One way to solve this is applying genetic algorithms to automatically distribute work among teams involved in software development.
Many software systems are required to run 24/7, for example, web, space and telecommunication systems. Even during maintenance, it is highly desirable to keep them running as their shutdown could lead to considerable economical lost. Genetic algorithms can also be used to automatically maintain software systems. Hadaytullah has developed a proof of concept infrastructure which observes changes in software quality. In a changed environment, the quality of software may deteriorate. In such a situation, the infrastructure automatically improves the running system to suit the changed environment.
The defence was lively and quite laid-back. The opponent Prof. Michel R.V. Chaudron from Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden, used a less common approach to present his overall view on the thesis by using a couple of slides he had prepared instead of the more common plain oral statement. The presentation was quite thus made a bit more approachable for the general audience. The questions and observations Prof. Chaudron had on Hadaytullah’s work were also a part of his slide set which helped to give a wider view to the background and context of the questions. The discussion was easy to follow. Hadaytullah defended his work calmly and very well.
And a week later we had some more.
Juha-Matti’s thesis was in the field of computer games. Throughout their evolution computer role-playing games (CRPGs) have gathered enthusiastic players. Virtual worlds of the contemporary games are very large and games themselves are complex, therefore their development requires better software tools.
In his dissertation Vanhatupa has developed software tools and methods to assist game developers. One main part of the work ist the creation and use of CAGE-game engine. It was used in game programming course as a platform for student project works. It was also used as a research platform in the PhD work.
One of the researched methods was procedural content generation, which can be used to create subject material into the games. Content creation is a continuous problem in CRPGs, and when it is created algorithmically game developers can use his or her time doing other tasks. Using procedural content generation it is in theory possible to create an endless game.
Also browser-based approach to create CRPGs has been explored in the work. CRPGs are essentially collaborative games, and browser-based implementation makes implementing multiplayer games lot easier. Browser-based approach will also eliminate game loading times, and game updates are instantly deployed to every player. In addition, delivering new content to the players is easy.
However, software tools for browser-based games are not yet as sophisticated. For example game engines for browser-based games haven’t established similar position as game engines in development of installable games have.
The defense itself was very public friendly, as the opponents, Professor Markku Turunen from University of Tampere and Dr. Ian Kenny from De Montfort University (UK) draw questions from their own experiences as gamers. The crowd was given a lively conversation about personalization of games, multi-player games vs. single player games, adventure games vs. role playing games, and the nature of games and how game playing will change in the future. The defender did an excellent job in answering the questions, despite never having played Fallout 3, which was the favorite and most referenced game of Dr. Kenny.
Congratulations to Hadaytullah and Juha-Matti!
Text: Outi Sievi-Korte, Hadaytullah, Juha-Matti Vanhatupa and Terhi Kilamo
Photos from Hadaytullah’s defense by Adnan Kiyani
Photos from Juha-Matti’s defense by Terhi Kilamo