University College London (UCL) hosts the world-leading research group, CREST (Center for Evolution, Search and Testing), in Search-Based Software Engineering. Our department has had a few researchers working in this field for the past years (third PhD thesis is currently being finalized), and all the while we have looked for opportunities to work together with Prof. Mark Harman, the leader of CREST, and his research group.
The Academy funded project that started last autumn has a long-term goal of applying search-based techniques to global software development project optimization, and we could now find both the topic and the means to do collaboration. To start the more concrete work between our groups, I visited CREST for one week this May.
From research perspective we could definitely identify common interests, such as (search-based) project planning issues, how to estimate uncertainty in software projects, how to optimize requirements in agile projects, and so on. During the visit we had very fruitful conversations in very different setups – during presentations, during lunch, in the hallway, and most typically Britishly, during afternoon tea.
The CREST folk have a habit that whenever a new person joins the research group, he or she is taken for afternoon tea by the rest (or most) of the group to the British Museum, which is situated only two blocks from the UCL campus – and the department pays! Organizing the moving of places after each layer of tea goodies was eaten made sure that you got to talk to as many people as possible attending.
We will continue collaboration through the 3-year project, so more visits to London to come – and I don’t really mind.