Newly appointed Professor is a boundary crosser
Communication and cooperation are points of equilibrium between success and failure in software development. By crossing boundaries between computer science and social science, Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen Yvonne Dittrich extends the field of computer engineering.
Software development is not a ‘me and my computer’-work, and cooperation and communication in the process determine whether software developers succeed or fail. That calls for a border-crossing between computer science and social science, which is Professor Yvonne Dittrich’s approach to research in software engineering.
“While many of my colleagues are dipping deeper, I engage in a wide range of projects. I am in between computer science on the one side and social science on the other, “Yvonne Dittrich says.
The discussion was almost religious, but we are not in religion, we are in science.
Yvonne Dittrich, Professor at ITU «
She was appointed Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen on October 1, 2019. In her inauguration lecture, December 12 2019, she will introduce the audience to her most well-known contribution to the field of software engineering: The social side of software development
Pioneering the field
Traditionally research in Software Engineering is about what tools and methods to use in the process of software development. Today, the social sides of the development, such as cooperation and communication, are acknowledged aspects in software engineering research in a field, which Yvonne Dittrich has contributed to establish.
If the software developers can not cooperate, they cannot succeed in building good software
Yvonne Dittrich, Professor at ITU «
“If the software developers can not cooperate, they cannot succeed in building good software, ”she says.
She has added research methods and theoretically underpinned practices, contributing with methods in software engineering. From the very beginning, her approach has been to combine and to perch between different disciplines, discourses and schools, as well as between practice and academia.
Explore the scientific borderland
Twenty years ago, software engineers heavily disagreed on the role of the user in software development. Some argued the user should be included in the process, other said they should be left out. This became Yvonne Dittrich’s motivation to initiate her interdisciplinary research in software engineering.
“The discussion was almost religious, but we are not in religion, we are in science. So I decided to explore how people manage to develop software, and especially how they manage to develop successful software,” Yvonne Dittrich says.
She attended the first ever interdisciplinary workshop that used methods and tools from social science in software design almost twenty years ago. The field was new, and the attendance was limited.
“We were just a handful, who worked with qualitative and empirical research in software engineering,” she explains.
Over the years, Yvonne Dittrich has experienced her field mature. In the beginning, it was hard to have any non-qualitative research published, but that has changed, Yvonne Dittrich says.
“We have established qualitative research in the software engineering field and we are published in all major journals and conferences,” she says.
In the future, the newly appointed Professor will continuously bridge the technical and social sides of software engineering. New ways of deploying software continuously calls for new ways of coordinating the development process, and the development of societal infrastructure and software products calls for new forms of cooperation of developers even across different organisations. These are among Yvonne Dittrich’s future projects.
Anna Lohmann Ahlbom, Press Officer, phone +45 25 55 04 47, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Yvonne Dittrich, Professor, phone +45 7218 5177, email email@example.com