LERO: Software Needs to Change

The world is in constant change as new requirements replace old demands. Software, like everything else has to adapt to its environment to avoid redundancy. The source cause of change can come in many forms. An organization has different needs for its products than when first compiled.

Repurposing can come around through the business processes of mergers and acquisitions. Or there is the need to adapt to new technologies like the Cloud if the software has to accommodate the need to transition to a web-based functionality.

There is also the case for providing for the software to change automatically to deal with harsh environments. This would be in areas such as aerospace where processes will have to change by themselves because there isn’t the luxury of time to go in and make changes.

Professor Mike Hinchey, Director of Lero: The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, says that, “All our research is around the field of Evolving Critical Systems. What we are interested in is the fact that software has to change. We do the important background work that developers need to generate good quality software.”

“We are conducting research in the field of software engineering but we are also trying to be available as a resource to both Irish industry and multinationals who need help with software issues and software problems in various guises.”

Lero hasn’t been commercializing its own research to date but that is something that is on the cards for the future. At the moment, according to Mike, “We work with industry very much as partners.”

Lero recently announced that it has received funding for €16 million via Science Foundation Ireland which is to be matched by a contribution of €6.4 million from the commercial sector.

Mike explains further, “We have fifteen companies that have agreed to sign up with us for the next five years. They make commitments for financial contributions and contributions of their staff, equipment and software.

“They have problems they have to deal with and we have solutions. It is useful for us to demonstrate that our solutions work well in real-life and that it also solves a problem for industry.”

Lero achieves that, “Mostly by reducing the costs but also by giving them a better product, and usually, giving it to them faster.

“The money is to fund the work that we will do with these fifteen companies and will address a broad range of areas from how you develop software to how you insure that privacy is maintained.”

Safety is also a major issue and it is important to, “Ensure the quality of the software — If you put it into a critical application, obviously you don’t to kill people or destroy property. You need confidence that your software is working.

“Software needs to change and we want to do is change software for less cost than it would cost to replace it. But when we change it we want to know that it still works at least as well as it did before. Preferably, that it works better than it did before.”

This announcement of funding cooperation between government and industry reflects another part of Lero’s ambition, “We want to grow in our relevance to Ireland. We want to help companies develop better products and achieve their own goals of better software.”

The desired outcome being that, “Companies will be creating jobs and hiring people and that is going to lead to growth and, hopefully, prosperity for the entire country.”

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