Trends in Topics at SE Conferences (1993-2013)

Aug7 '16

with George Mathew, NC State

We report a topic modeling analysis of the the abstracts and titles from 9291 papers published in 11 top-ranked SE conferences between 1993 to 2013. Seven topics are identified as the dominant themes in modern software engineering. We show that these topics are not static; rather, some of them are becoming decidedly less prominent over time (modeling) while others are become very prominent indeed (defect analysis). Also, by clustering conferences according to the topics they usually publish, we can see that SE conferences fall into four large groups. For example, for the last 20 years, ASE, FSE and ICSE have been publishing mostly the same work (exceptions: FSE publishes somewhat more work on program analysis compared to ASE or ICSE). Our results highlight the enormous impact of a program committee (PC) on a research conference. Even though PC members comprise less than a quarter of the authors with published papers, the topics of their papers matches almost exactly with the topics seen in all published papers. Using these results, we offer numerous recommendations including how to plan an individual's research program; how to intelligently make new conferences or merge old ones; how to better recruit program committees; and how to encourage a broader range of topics at SE conferences. Read More