An Interview with Richard N. Taylor

Q. What were your goals in laying out the technical program for ICSE 97?

A. I wanted to shake, if even only a little bit, the software engineering community out of its historic boundaries or emphases. It is very easy for a conference, or a community, to settle into a predictable and comfortable rut, talking about things that have always been of interest to software engineers, and which will probably remain of interest. But in the meantime, there are enormous changes occurring around us and fabulous opportunities. Some of those changes create new and important problems for software engineering to address. Some of them present opportunities for bringing new kinds of firepower to old problems. Some of them mean that some traditional topics are no longer of interest.

To be a bit more specific, I'd head off in the following directions: the need for high-quality software is not always a given; speed of development and innovative featureless be what matters most.

Human factors count. A lot. Software engineers don't seem to even know what they are. But don't even ask what areas of software engineering I think are boring or irrelevant.

Q. What do you think is special or significant about ICSE 97?

A. The breadth of the program. It is hard to determine what sessions to go to because for each time slot there are several interesting sessions. Moreover, the practicing professionals in attendance will almost always have two sessions to choose from in each time slot, addressing issues of immediate concern.

Q. What was the most difficult thing you had to overcome to make ICSE 97 a success?

A. Getting the professional community to participate. And once someone has said they would help, getting them to actually do what they said. ICSE is a big enterprise and it takes a lot of volunteers.

Q. What is different about ICSE 97 than previous ICSEs?

A. Read the final program and look at the proceedings. You'll see.

Q. What advice do you have for this year's attendees?

A. Don't assume that you know what the problems are or what the solution space is. Step out of the box for a minute.

Q. How much time have you spent on ICSE?

A. I started working on ICSE 97 in 1994. I don't even want to try to add up the hours. It would be too depressing.

Q. Who has been the most help for you making ICSE a success?

A. Rick Adrion. Without a doubt Rick has poured countless hours into all the critical but unpleasant tasks that are essential to [making] a conference of this size and complexity work.

Q. How many papers and proposals were submitted to ICSE?

A. From the forward to the proceedings:

219 full technical papers were submitted for review. The committee accepted 41 research papers and 9 experience reports. A total of 11 lessons and status reports were accepted out of the 18 submitted.

39 students submitted complete applications [for consideration by the doctoral consortium organizing committee]; from these, 10 were selected for participation.

Q. How many paper tracks, panels, keynotes, and industry sessions are there?

A. There are no industry sessions. Just sessions. This is important.

Q. What was the most surprising thing you learned about while serving as Program Coordinator for ICSE?

A. I knew this would be a big job, but I didn't know how big. Lesson (re-)learned: success is dependent on having excellent technical and administrative support people. Debi Brodbeck, Kari Nies, Aileen Broccardo, Roy Fielding, and others at UCI were essential to making all this happen at my end.

Q. What advice do you have for next yearÆs Program Coordinators?

A. Stick to your vision.

Q. Who else should I talk to for newsworthy information on ICSE 97?

A. Rick.

Q. Is there anything else you want to add?

A. [I'm] too tired and too busy [to add anything].