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Information for Researchers No. 33 | 13 July 2011
Priority Programme “Design for Future – Managed Software Evolution” (SPP 1593)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has announced the establishment of a new Priority Programme entitled “Design for Future – Managed Software Evolution” (SPP 1593). The programme is designed to run for six years; the present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

This Priority Programme has been established to develop fundamentally new approaches in soft-ware engineering with a determined focus on long-living software systems. Existing research in software engineering does not solve the severe current problems with legacy software, the adaption of software to new platforms and the continuous evolution of software systems with respect to continuously changing requirements, new emerging technologies, and integration of new software, hardware and system components. Hence, new foundations, methods and tools are needed to be able to develop “forever young software” which maintains its initial functionality and quality and is even continuously improved during the whole lifetime. We intend to develop a methodology for the continuous evolution of software and software/hardware systems, thus making systems adaptable to changing requirements and environments.

In the discipline of software engineering, several fields are especially suited to contribute to this goal. Without claiming completeness, existing approaches for requirements engineering, architecture design and management, model-based and model-driven software engineering, quality management, artefact management and evolution, and reengineering already have a strong impact on managing software evolution. However, these approaches need to be further developed and integrated with a special focus on long-living software systems. A new paradigm will be established where development, adaptation and evolution of software and their platforms on the one hand as well as operation, monitoring and maintenance on the other hand are no longer separated but integrated. The aim is to define meta-models for preserving and accessing the knowledge provided and gained during the system development process. Furthermore, methods and process models, as well as suitable infrastructures, have to be provided to comprehensively support the integration of software development and evolution.

In this research programme we do not intend to explore approaches isolated from application. We focus here on two application domains: information systems and production systems in automation engineering. In information systems, huge data bases and applications need to be managed over long periods. In production systems in automation engineering, long-running complex software/hardware systems need to be engineered, maintained and improved efficiently even at operation.

The following three guiding themes have been identified and will be used to structure the re-search programme:

  • Knowledge Carrying Software. The knowledge contained in software or underlying its design needs to be integrated and made accessible in the resulting artefacts, both for functional and for extra-functional properties. Sophisticated meta-models with specific support for continuous evolution of software and software/hardware systems need to be developed for defining and managing suitable models, particularly for advancing model-based and model-driven software engineering.

  • Methods and Processes. Design and evolution of software need to be supported by methods ensuring that knowledge is preserved and integrated. A new model for the life cycle of software or software/hardware systems needs to be developed, allowing and considering differing evolution cycles on different levels of the software/platform/hardware stacks.

  • Platforms and Environments for Evolution. Infrastructure for the evolution of soft-ware or software/hardware systems in terms of suitable middleware and robust runtime environments, for monitoring and changing during operation, needs to be provided. De-sign- and runtime information needs to be made accessible wherever needed during the operation of systems.

Software engineering researchers, working on topics related to this field of long-living software and software/hardware systems are encouraged to submit a proposal. Particularly, we invite research proposals on:

  • architecture models, styles and guidelines

  • continuous software system evolution under design-/runtime control and management

  • meta-model engineering

  • product line engineering

  • life-cycle models for developing and operating software as well as software/hardware systems

  • model-based and model-driven development of long-living systems

  • traceability from requirements to architecture and code

  • human factors in software development of long-living systems

  • empirical studies

Proposals need to show a substantial contribution to software engineering research, contributing to at least one of the three guiding themes. Proposals should also have a clear link to at least one of the two mentioned application domains. To achieve a high degree of cooperation, joint proposals are particularly welcome. Original research on knowledge management, knowledge-based systems, and usability/ergonomics of software as well as proposals focussing only on the application domains of information systems or automation engineering are not within the scope of this SPP. Please note that proposers need to be eligible for research proposals to the DFG.

Accepted proposals are expected to contribute to joint activities of this SPP. These are jointly organised summer schools as well as regular meetings where research results and experiences are exchanged.

Submission of proposals

Proposals have to be written in English. They still have to be submitted by mail (one signed paper copy and one CD with corresponding pdf files) to DFG using the keyword “SPP 1593”. The deadline for submission (date of the post stamp) is

2 December 2011.

Proposals need to comply with DFG’s general rules for proposals in the individual grants programme (guideline 1.02e). In particular, they have to comprise a work programme justifying the requested funds and making clear the assignment of the funds to the individual applicants if there is more than one.

The proposals will be evaluated by a review panel which is planned to meet in March 2012. The envisaged start of funding is 1 July 2012.

Further information

DFG’s forms and guidelines are available under:

General information about the Priority Programme is available on its website:

Scientific questions about this Priority Programme should be directed to its coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Ursula Goltz,
    Technische Universität Braunschweig,
    Institut für Programmierung und Reaktive Systeme,
    Mühlenpfordtstr. 23,
    38106 Braunschweig,
    Tel. +49 531 391-3277,
    Link auf E-Mailgoltz@ips.cs.tu-bs.de

Administrative questions, notably about the formal eligibility for participation and the submission of the proposal, should be directed to: