FiDiPro - the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme - enables distinguished international researchers to work and team up with the 'best of the best' in Finnish academic research. Financed by the Academy of Finland and Tekes, FiDiPro makes it possible to recruit highly merited scientists who are able to commit to long-term cooperation with a Finnish university or research institute.
In March 2011, the Department of Computer Science got its first FiDiPro professor, Jürgen Münch. Let’s interview Jürgen and learn to know him better.
Jürgen, where are you coming from to Finland? What is your background?
I am coming from Kaiserslautern, Germany, a city close to Frankfurt, which is surrounded by Germany’s largest continuous forest as well as by beautiful wine regions. Kaiserslautern is one of Germany’s centers for computer science, with a technical university, a university of applied sciences, several information technology institutes, and a number of high-growth companies. I started my career at the University of Kaiserslautern at a temporary basic research institute that focused on the development of large software-based systems with generic methods. Afterwards, I joined the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE), a leading German institute for software and systems development. At Fraunhofer IESE, I was heading a division for process management and was responsible for research and technology transfer in the area of software process and quality engineering. My background is empirical and engineering-style software engineering. Besides research and teaching, my interests are in collaborating with international experts from industry and research. I established, for instance, a long-term collaboration with renowned Asian organizations including the Japanese Aerospace Agency, and I was one of the initiators of comprehensive collaboration with the Fraunhofer Center Maryland in the area of measurement.
What are your special areas of research?
My research in software and systems engineering centers around the measurement and quantitative analysis of software processes and systems, software process modeling, software quality assurance and control, global software development, and cloud-based software engineering. The underlying paradigm of my work is empirical software engineering, which aims at understanding the effects of software technologies in different domains. One research goal is, for instance, to determine the level of reliability that can be expected when systematically integrating inspection and testing processes in the telecommunication domain. One of the characteristics of my research is the transfer of ideas from one context or one domain to other domains in order to create provable benefits. We have, for instance, successfully transferred the idea of building hybrid models, which combine expert opinion with data, from the domain of software cost estimation to the domains of software quality management and global software development. We have, to mention further examples, used “Phyllo Trees”, a biological tree layout pattern, for visualizing software structures, and we have used software measurement principles for supporting business alignment. One result of this work is the GQM+Strategies method for aligning a company's software strategies with its long-term business goals.
In your FiDiPro project, what are you going to concentrate on?
My FiDiPro project is called “Cloud Software Factory”. It aims at producing an approach for systematic cloud software technology evaluation, which will be packaged and tried out in a real-life context in several case trials. Currently, there is a tremendous demand to provide products and services that include cloud computing. Despite this demand, the body of knowledge for cloud software development consists predominantly of technologies such as techniques, languages, and tools rather than methods and knowledge regarding the effects of such technologies in practical development environments. It is widely unknown which practices, techniques, and methods are effective for cloud-related software development and maintenance and how to select appropriate technologies for specific development goals and environments. Companies that want to make use of the benefits of cloud technologies need to get an understanding of the effects of available technologies for their specific development environment and must be able to identify and assess development risks. This research project takes an unprecedented empirical approach focusing on the creation of an internationally unique cloud software development laboratory that will enable the systematic evaluation of existing and new cloud-related software development technologies. In addition, it will enable the improvement of such technologies based on empirical findings. Further work will focus on the systematic build-up of strategies for cloud computing (such as combining open source, open interfaces as well as commercial products in cloud software development) from the quality modeling viewpoint, which will enable companies to explicitly define service level agreements and targets, for example.
What do you expect to experience here in Finland and at the Department?
I will begin my work as a professor at the University of Helsinki in the area of Software Systems Engineering and I plan to quickly establish my working group. The excellent research environment in Finland with its “innovation chains” for the transfer of basic research results to product and process development in industry as well as the project landscape will be a good basis for my work. From previous collaborations with Finnish organizations, I have already experienced the Finnish appreciation for innovative processes and unconventional solutions. Especially the environment in Helsinki, with projects such as the Cloud Software Program, companies such as Ericsson Finland, and many entrepreneurs, is very promising for me. Points of contact with the Department of Computer Science will include the areas of software systems and distributed systems. As some of my main topics such as measurement or quality modeling can be seen as interdisciplinary, I also see potential in collaborating with experts in other areas such as algorithms and machine learning. One important aspect that played a major role in my decision to come to Helsinki is the existence of an established and continually running empirical laboratory, the so-called software factory. I plan to use and extend this lab for the FiDiPro project. In addition, the software factory will allow me to study distributed development techniques in joint projects with other software factories in Finland and abroad. I expect that the software factory is also very interesting for students because it involves teamwork in creating exciting and useful products. Students can experience realistic development environments, make responsible commitments, and apply innovative development processes. In contrast to development in industry, students can directly experience the generation of software engineering knowledge by empirical means. Besides all these factors, I see the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki as an excellent environment for creating synergies for ambitious research.
Did you bring your family with you? How have you found Finland and the Finnish weather so far?
I have brought my wife and two young children with me. We found a nice apartment in downtown Helsinki and enjoy a panoramic and exciting view on Helsinki. Spring and summer are coming and I think that we chose exactly the right time to come here. Although we have been here only for a few weeks, we have already experienced a lot of hospitality and would like to thank all of those who supported us. Besides working, I hope to have some time with my family to see more of the beautiful nature and interesting culture of Finland.
Do you have any hobbies?
Besides jogging, my hobbies are literature, art, and architecture. However, at the moment, my main hobbies are our two sweet kids, our baby Maximilian and our three-year old daughter Henriette. My wife and I are looking forward to discovering Finland together with them.
Thank you, Jürgen, and have a nice time here at the Department!