Carnegie Mellon University
September 06, 2019

Kästner to Receive SPLC Most Influential Paper

By Josh Quicksall

Christian Kästner, faculty member in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research, and his collaborators are to receive a Most Influential Paper Award as a part of the 2019 Systems and Software Products Line Conference (SPLC) next week in Paris, France. 

Now in its 23rd year, the conference is a premier forum where researchers, practitioners, and educators can present and discuss the most recent ideas, trends, experiences, and challenges in the area of software product line engineering.

Granted only to papers published more than 10 years ago, the SPLC Most Influential Paper Award recognizes that research which has had a substantial and lasting impact upon software product lines. 

Kästner was awarded the honor for his 2018 paper "Granularity in Software Product Lines". Originally presented at the International Conference of Software Engineering, the paper was co-authored by Sven Apel (now University of Saarbruecken) and Martin Kuhlemann (now Daimler AG) and provides a thorough analysis of the importance of granularity on feature implementation in software product line engineering. It encouraged the research community to explore implementation strategies beyond the then-popular compositional approaches (e.g., aspects, feature modules) and to revisit implementations with simpler annotative approaches (e.g., the C preprocessor), but overcome their shortcomings with improved tooling. The paper triggered much subsequent research in improvements, guidelines, and analyses regarding simple but effective implementation strategies that had largely been ignored by the research community. It has been cited over 500 times since its publication.

The nominating group - Claus Brabrand (IT University of Copenhagen), Paul Grünbacher (Johannes Kepler University), Linz Roberto Erick Lopez Herrejon (Université du Québec), and Julia Rubin (University of British Columbia) - note that the work by Kästner’s team was seminal to a great deal of current software research.

“The paper paved the way for a lot of research on feature-oriented software development, a programming paradigm where the concept of features is used in all phases of the software life cycle,” the group notes in their nomination. “The work is also an important motivation and foundation for work on variation control systems that aim to integrate both revisions and variants in software product lines by managing features, variants, and variation points in an integrated and uniform manner”