Tuesday 12pm, 8 March 2016


Crowdsourcing in Software Engineering: Models, Opportunities, and Challenges

Thomas LaToza

Assistant Professor - George Mason University


Software developers today frequently take part in crowdsourcing, whether through the use of one of the 16,000,000 answers to programming questions on StackOverflow, by participating in one of the more than 400,000 software design and development competitions on TopCoder, or as one of the hundreds of thousands freelancing for UI design, testing, or programming. In this talk, I’ll first explore how crowdsourcing is reshaping how software developers work, play, and learn and the opportunities and challenges that crowdsourcing brings for engineering software. A fundamental question such communities raise is just how far software work can be decomposed. Can a crowd of transient developers build software through self-contained 10 minute contributions? I will report on some of the work we have done to address this question. A core property of software work is its complexity and interdependence, bringing new challenges for scaling microtask crowdsourcing to knowledge intensive work. Our work also raises fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge and context in software development, offering a new lens for understanding modularity and dependency in software engineering.


Thomas LaToza is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University. His work is at the intersection of software engineering and human computer interaction, investigating how humans interact with code and the invention of new tools for developers. He has served on various program committees and is on the Review Board of the Empirical Software Engineering Journal. He currently serves as a guest editor of the IEEE Software Special Issue on Crowdsourcing for Software Engineering, serves as co-chair of the Seventh Workshop on the Evaluation and Usability of Programming Languages and Tools, and serves as co-chair of the Third International Workshop on Crowdsourcing in Software Engineering. His work is funded in part through a $1.4M grant from the National Science Foundation on crowd programming. He holds B.S. degrees in psychology and computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in software engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.