[SOAR] Program Overview

What is [SOAR]?

The Government of Canada estimates that in 2018 there were over 41,500 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) firms in Canada with over $193 billion in annual revenues. The ICT sector is expanding at a rate of nearly twice that of the total Canadian economy and the software and computer sub-sector is experiencing strong GDP growth (+7.7% in 2018). Software is ubiquitous and Canada relies on software innovation to drive the economy and improve our quality of life. Unfortunately, software errors (bugs) can have a massive impact. For example, in 2017, 606 software bugs cost around $1.7 trillion, with 3.7 billion people and 314 companies affected. These errors led to fatalities, such as when a software bug in a self-driving car resulted in a pedestrian fatality in March 2018 and in the recent Boeing-737 Max tragedies that resulted in hundreds of deaths. To support effective and accurate software development, the urgent need for software analytics professionals has emerged.

A promising methodology for supporting developers to construct high-quality software is to enable them to learn from the wealth of experience captured in previous software projects and their artifacts: software-analytics methods can enrich every software development activity with insights extracted from past projects.

Enormous amounts of data are generated throughout the software lifecycle, from requirements specifications, design documents, and source code to bug reports, test cases, run-time logs/traces, user feedback, developer communication, discussions in large crowdsourced platforms (e.g., Stack Overflow) or even in source-code repositories (e.g., GitHub). By exploring this data one can gain insights into the quality of the software and its functionality, can pinpoint usability problems, can assess software-development dynamics, and devise effective solutions for challenging tasks.

who is [soar]?

SOAR brings together a strong academic team of eight researchers from four universities (University of Saskatchewan – USask, University of Alberta – UAlberta, University of Calgary – UCalgary, and the University of British Columbia – UBC) and engages additional universities through our extremely strong team of national and international collaborators. The program will be hosted at USask due to its existing strength in software analytics, rich partnerships with local industry, and USask-based research institutes, the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), that rely on software analytics to push the leading edge of their research. With a history of successful collaboration on research grants, HQP (high quality personnel) supervision, and co-publishing, the team is ideally positioned to support the training of 87 HQP through a unique, innovative, collaborative, industry-focused training program that simultaneously develops research and professional skills.

How will [SOAR] help?

The long-term objective of the proposed CREATE Software Analytics Research (SOAR) program is to train HQP in the area of Software Analytics in collaboration with our industrial partners. Although software analytics is an important area of research in both academia and industry, there are no specific graduate programs in Canada targeted at developing software-analytics skills to produce the software professionals that our software industry so direly needs; trainees and supervisors create their own programs on an ad-hoc basis to meet this pressing demand. SOAR will offer students who wish to work in software analytics the first Canadian, industrially-grounded, academically-driven, graduate-level experiential training program. The SOAR program will advance software technology and train HQP to help ensure that software being developed is usable, reliable, sustainable, scalable, secure, and cost-effective.