IST researcher looks to 'debug' software

May 20, 2004

University Park, Pa.-Mary Beth Rosson, professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State, is participating in a $2.6-million National Science Foundation grant aimed at helping computer users identify and fix software glitches.

The End Users Shaping Effective Software (EUSES) project wants to help end-user programmers-people who create Web pages and spreadsheets but who are not trained in software engineering-learn how to debug their programs. Researchers will focus on software accuracy, reusability and extensibility.

Research has indicated as many as 90 percent of spreadsheets have bugs, said Rosson, a faculty member in the School of Information Sciences and Technology (IST).

Rosson's research will focus on how end users recognize and solve those glitches; what contexts most often give rise to bugs; and how users' aptitudes, attitudes and abilities shape their approaches.

"I want to know how non-programmers think about the opportunities for software development and how they think as they attempt those projects," Rosson said.

According to research cited by the EUSES Consortium, end-user programmers will number 55 million by 2005 with their "programs" running everything from credit histories to retirement funds. As many as half of those programs will have what the researchers have termed "nontrivial bugs."

Computer scientists from Drexel and Carnegie Mellon universities also are working on the project.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 03, 2010