The PerPlex Software Engineering Lab
Background and Objectives
In 2008, Microsoft, Avanade, and TU Delft, started a long term collaboration in the field of
software engineering. The goals of this collaboration are to stimulate
- Research in advanced software engineering topics
- Education of software engineering at the master level
- Valorization of research results in, e.g., spinoff companies and industrial collaboration
- Outreach of the joy of software engineering to the wider public
Founding sponsors of the Perplex lab are:
Additional collaborators of the Perplex Lab include:
Organizations interested in participating in the Perplex Lab are invited to contact Arie van Deursen
People involved in the Perplex Lab include
For more information on the Perplex Lab, contact Arie van Deursen
A first result of the Perplex Lab has been an empirical assessment of the success of the
domain-specific language ACA.NET, developed and used by Avanade, and building upon the Microsoft
The corresponding paper Domain-specific languages in practice: A user study on the success factors
has been published at MODELS 2009, the leading conference in the field of
Spreadsheet Analysis and Visualization
Since 2010, the focus on research is on supporting end user programmers working on spreadsheets
Research results include
- the generation of class diagrams from spreadsheets, showing how data and computations are organized in spreadsheets
- the generation of data flow diagrams from spreadsheets, showing dependencies between groups of cells, worksheets, and formulas
- the detection of design flaws (smells), both at the level of formulas and at the level of high level data flows
- the detection of suspicious copies of computed data.
The techniques have been implemented in a spreadsheet analysis tool
The tool is available on line (as a service).
The techniques have been evaluated with professional spreadsheet users from a range of different
organizations (including Robeco and the Dutch Voedselbank
This research has resulted in a series of publications, including three subsequent research papers (2011--2013) in
the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE
), the most prestigious conference in the field
of software engineering (with acceptance rates below 20%).
Software engineering education at TU Delft was boosted by the appointment of
Erik Meijer from Microsoft (Redmond) as a part time professor at the Software Engineering Research Group.
Erik has set up two new successful MSc courses, one in the area of Functional Programming
(building upon Erik's expertise in Haskell), the other
on Reactive Programming
(covering LINQ and the Rx Reactive Extensions framework).
Furthermore, a series of student projects have been conducted within the context of the Perplex Lab,
usually via an internship at one of the affiliated companies.
A key success of the project is the founding in 2010 of
, a company offering tools and services in the area of spreadsheet
analysis and visualization based on research conducted within the Perplex lab.
Outreach activites include involvement in various editions of the Imagine Cup
as well as the
First Lego League
Furthermore, Perplex Lab members appeared at TEDxDelft in 2011:
Subsequently, both also appeared on the
Dutch TV Show "De Wereld Draait Door" (with approximately 1 million spectators).
- Felienne Hermans (2013). Improving Spreadsheet Test Practices. In Center for Advanced Studies on Collaborative Research, CASCON. IBM / ACM.
[ Bibtex ]
- Hermans, Felienne (2009). Gathering domain knowledge from spreadsheets. In ESEC/FSE Doctoral Symposium '09: Proceedings of the doctoral symposium for ESEC/FSE on Doctoral symposium, pp. 37--38, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ACM.
[ Bibtex ]