Keynote Speaker - Bill Curtis

Title - A Career Spent Wading through Industry's Empirical Ooze

Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist of CAST Software

Abstract. Dr. Curtis will describe the different layers of empirical ooze he has waded through and the quantitative problems he encountered during his 36+ years in the software engineering industry. The first layer was formal experiments at GE Space Division where he was frustrated by how little variance the dependent variables accounted for compared to individual differences variance among developers. Consequently at MCC he changed strategy and began conducting thinking aloud protocols of designers, the videography of a design team, and interviews with design teams on large projects. The results challenged the existing paradigm of the design process that underlay most design methods. After leading the development of the CMM at SEI he had to find case study data that was sufficient to convince executives to engage in process improvement, but he encountered fundamental flaws in the CMM's approach to statistical process control. Currently at CAST he is analyzing data on the structural quality data of over 1500 large IT systems to detect patterns and establish industry benchmarks. He will demonstrate why industry's productivity benchmarks are grossly over-estimated. From a career submerged in industry's empirical ooze he will draw a multi-layered measurement stack and discuss the practical and statistical challenges of aggregating data across individuals, teams, projects, and organizations.

Bio. Dr. Curtis is the Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist of CAST Software and heads CAST Research Labs. He is also the Director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality ( While Director of the Software Process Program at the Software Engineering Institute, he led the development of the Capability Maturity Model. He has 35 years of experience in various areas of software development. In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of IEEE for his contributions to software process improvement and measurement. He has published 4 books and over 150 articles. Dr. Curtis acquired the initial funding for the 1982 Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems which has become ACM's CHI conference. He was Program Chair for CHI'85 and General Chair for CHI'89. He has organized numerous corporate and professional technical conferences and served on many program committees.


ICSE 2014