Research Issues in Web Software Engineering
IT 821 / SWE 699 Syllabus
Spring 2007

Syllabus Papers Review Form Students Jeff's Home Page

Professor: Jeff Offutt
Office: S&T II 355, 993-1654, fax: 993-1638
Email: offutt(at)
Class Hours: Wed 4:30 - 7:10, FAB B108
Prerequisite: SWE 642 or POI
Office Hours: Anytime electronically, T 1:30 - 3:00, or by appointment

Learning: What you discover on your own is always more exciting than what someone else discovers for you -- it's like the difference between romantic love and an arranged marriage.
- Terrence Rafferty

Web applications and web services are now ubiquitous and one of the fastest growing parts of the software industry. The many unique aspects of web software can be captured in two statements: Web software is deployed differently (across the web) and has higher quality requirements. This course will examine techniques and technologies to measurably achieve high reliability, security, maintainability, safety, usability, scalability and availability in web software. Some of these approaches are already being used in industry; others are at the research stage. The class is suitable for IT and CS PhD students interested in Software Engineering as well as advanced Software Engineering MS students.

Students will need to have a general knowledge of software engineering such as can be gained in an introductory software engineering course, and will need to know how to build simple web software applications. This course is primarily intended for students interested in deep exploration of building web software applications and web services at either the research or cutting-edge level. PhD students will carry out a small research project involving web software, then write and present a paper. MS students will design and build a complete web application. Topics will be suggested by the instructor; many will be related to his forthcoming book on software testing.

A collection of papers as listed on the class website.

After the course, the students should be able to understand the issues involved in building high quality web software applications, be familiar with how current technologies support them, understand current outstanding problems, and be prepared to carry out research to address these problems.

We will read research papers and discuss some of the difficult research problems in designing, specifying, building, testing, maintaining, and measuring web software applications. Students will be responsible for keeping up with the readings and there will be a major project or paper. There will be no exam.

There will be three major components to the grading.

I. (15%) Class participation is required. All students are expected energetically participate in the discussions. Each PhD student is requried to lead the discussion of one paper during the semester. You can choose which paper and sign up by sending me an email the day before we will discuss the paper (or earlier).

II. (35%) Each student will submit a short (about one page) summary of one half of the papers, excluding the first three for day one of class. You can choose which papers. The summaries are due before class on the day they are discussed and should be submitted via the online form. The summaries should: (1) describe the subject in general terms, (2) summarize and critique the major results, (3) discuss applications of the ideas (if appropriate), (4) and critique the presentation of the paper.

III. (50%) Each student will either build a semester project or write a research paper. The instructor will suggest a number of projects in the first or second week of class. Project students may select from among those selected or propose a different project. At the end of the semester, project students will demo their projects to the class and submit a short description of the project with design and user documentation. The project option is primarily intended for MS students.

Research students will carry out a small research project, write a paper, and make a 30 minute presentation at the end of the semester. You could write a review of the current research in one problem area, propose a new technique to solve a current problem, or carry out empirical work involving an implementation and detailed documentation. We will spend time in class discussing writing and presentations.

Tentative Schedule
Spring 2007
  1. January 24: Kickoff meeting, introductory lecture. Intro slides         Project slides
  2. January 31: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper & project suggestions         Science slides         What is a PhD?
  3. February 7: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper 3         Paper 4         Paper 5
    Visitor from the Writing Center
  4. February 14: Class lectures, discussions of papers
    Class cancelled due to weather.
  5. February 21: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper 7         Rules for reviewing
    Project: Deadline for choice selection.
    Project: Hints on reviewing papers.
  6. February 28: Class lectures, discussions of papers
  7. March 7:
    Project: Class discussion of projects.
    March 14: No class, Spring Break.
  8. March 21: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper 9         Paper 10         Thoughts on advisors
  9. March 28: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Papers 11-12         Hints on writing
    Project: Hints on writing.
  10. April 4: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper 14         Paper 15         Hints on giving presentations
    Project: Hints on giving presentations.
  11. April 11: Class lectures, discussions of papers         Paper 16         Paper 17         Paper 18
  12. April 18: Student project presentations.         Guillermo Calderon-Meza, Dave Glick, Gary Kaminski, Alexandra Smith
  13. April 25: Student project presentations.         Robert Driskill, Julie Street, David Anderson, Qingxiang Wang
  14. May 2: Student project presentations.         Blaine Donley, Sam Krehnbrink, Faisal Quader, Shuang Wang
    Project: Paper / project due.
  15. May 9: Student project presentations.         Mohammad Abu-Matar, Upsorn Praphamontripong, Mary Samuel, Christopher Vo
    Final exam period.
Jeff Offutt
22 January, 2007