Faith, hope, and love: an essay on software science's neglect of human factors

Hanenberg, Stefan. Faith, hope, and love: an essay on software science's neglect of human factors. In OOPSLA '10: Proceedings of the ACM international conference on Object oriented programming systems languages and applications. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2010. [doi]

Abstract

Research in the area of programming languages has different facets -- from formal reasoning about new programming language constructs (such as type soundness proofs for new type systems) over inventions of new abstractions, up to performance measurements of virtual machines. A closer look into the underlying research methods reveals a distressing characteristic of programming language research: developers, which are the main audience for new language constructs, are hardly considered in the research process. As a consequence, it is simply not possible to state whether a new construct that requires some kind of interaction with the developer has any positive impact on the construction of software. This paper argues for appropriate research methods in programming language research that rely on studies of developers -- and argues that the introduction of corresponding empirical methods not only requires a new understanding of research but also a different view on how to teach software science to students.