Navigation auf


Department of Informatics s.e.a.l

Seminar in Advanced Software Engineering, FS 12

Theme: Software Evolution and Quality

The only constant in software is that it changes: Software must be continuously tailored to fit new or updated requirements. This has been formulated in Lehman’s first law of software evolution, which states that a software system must be continuously adapted, or become less and less useful. Software evolution is a multifaceted issue and the ability to understand it and rapidly and reliably control it is a major software engineering challenge. Over the years, both researchers and practitioners have recognized the need to study and understand its several aspects. This seminar will cover some the most relevant approaches and techniques.


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Thomas Fritz, Prof. Dr. Harald Gall
Assistant: Giacomo Ghezzi
Time and Place: Kick off meeting: 21 February 2012, 9:00, Room 1.D.07
Language: English
AP (ECTS): 3 points
Target Audience: BSc Informatics and MSc Informatics Students
Prerequisites: Software Engineering
Registration: Registration for a topic after kick-off meeting & Modulbuchung

Schedule & Deadlines

Deadline Date
Kick-off meeting 21 February 2012, 9:00, Room 1.D.07,
E-mail with 3 preferences 4 March 2012 (at the latest by midnight)
Topics assignment 5 March 2012
Report submission 6 April 2012 (at the latest by midnight)
Reviews start 7 April 2012
Reviews end 16 April 2012
Notification 17 April 2012
Corrected report submission 27 April 2012 (at the latest by midnight)
Presentation Day 16 May 2012, from 2 PM to 5 PM, room BIN 1.D.06


The following list shows all the available topics. Please pick three preferences and send them on email (including your full name and ID/Matrikel-Nr.) to Giacomo Ghezzi by March 4th (at the latest by midnight). Based on those preferences, we will then take care of assigning the topics which will then be announced on this web page.

How the Seminar Works

Starting from the given published research, the students have to undertake a critical review of the topic assigned and write a report on it. The structure and content of this report is left open-ended, however the students, need to make sure they:

  • clearly explain the subtopic selected.
  • review and summarize the current state of the art.
  • critically analyze research articles they present.
  • reflect on the impact of the subtopic they studied on the broader topic of the seminar and on software engineering in general.
  • elaborate on the application of the techniques and ideas found in the surveyed research to novel cases, topics, etc.
  • reflect on possible future directions.

The report has then to be submitted for reviewing through the seminar Easy Chair page (for more information please refer to the `Delivery' subsection of this page). The report will then go through a first review phase (blind review), done by the teaching assistant and 2-3 other students. Every participant has to review two other participants' reports. The goal of this first review is to give some useful feedback on the report, which should then be improved and modified accordingly and submitted for the second and final time. At last, the participants will have to present their work on a special presentation day.


For the final grade we will take into account:

  • the written report (40% of the grade)
  • the presentation of the report(40% of the grade)
  • the reviewing of the other participants' work (10% of the grade)
  • the active participation in the presentation day (10% of the grade)

The following are the grading criteria for the final report and the presentation:

5.50 - 6.0 : An excellent work
- the report represents works of an exceptional standard. It is a highly articulate and professional document and includes critical comments with extended justification. The author demonstrates initiative and originality in analysis or interpretation.
- the presentation is comprehensive and highly professional. The discussion is integrated into a logical, coherent whole. It tells a story and leads logically into the research presented.
5.0 - 5.50 : A high quality work
- the report is of a superior standard. It is well written, free of errors and includes coherent critical comments with substantial justification. The author demonstrates complex, deep understanding of the subject.
- the presentation is effective and comprehensive.
4.0 - 5.0 : A good work with just a couple of small weaknesses.
- the report is complete, well structured and well presented. It is written in a clear style that communicates points effectively on first reading. It includes coherent critical comments with justification based on evidence. The author has some tendency to summarize literature then develop an integrativ and logical argument.
- the presentation identifies and defines the main issues in a clear yet somewhat simplistic way.
3.0 - 4.0 : An average work with clear weaknesses.
- the report addresses the main themes but does not integrate or relate key ideas and issues efficiently. It is presented in an organized manner but may have style and expression irregularities that do not intefere with the meaning. It provides some basic critical comments that reflect a basic understanding of key issues. However, the the minimal critical analysis attempted lacks in depth and/or is confused. The author demonstrates the the literature in the field has been checked.
- the presentation is essentially descriptive and features minimal critical analysis. The main themes are presented but not well integrated. The author fails to tell a story.
0 - 3.0 : Insufficient work with many substantial weaknesses.
- the report does not address the main themes, is disorganized, incoherent or reveals evidence of plagiarism. It provides little or no critical comments.
- the presentation is disorganized, incoherent and fails to effectively describe the topic.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, students should have acquired the following skills:

  • to explain the subtopic selected.
  • to critically analyze research articles on the subtopic selected.
  • to review and summarize the current state of the art of the selected subtopic.
  • to reflect on the impact on the broader topic of the seminar and on software engineering in general.
  • to apply techniques and ideas found in the surveyed research to novel cases.
  • to reflect on possible future directions.

Written Report

The written report represents the first task of the seminar. It has to be 12-15 pages long (not counting the cover sheet and the table of contents) and in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science format. Both the MS Word ("") and LaTeX format ("") are available here for downloading, even though we strongly suggest anyone to use the LaTeX format. Eventually the report will have to be delivered as PDF.

Please pay attention to the tips in the format template, in particular:

  • the correct structure of a scientific research article,
  • the right use of figures and tables,
  • the correct citation of other works.

Below you can find two very good seminar reports of the past year that you can use as blueprints while writing your report.

Report 1 (PDF, 543 KB)

Report 2 (PDF, 225 KB)

For any other question or doubt please contact the Teaching Assistant.

Literature Search Pointers

Each student should investigate and cite at least 7-10 articles in his/her own work.

The ACM Digital Library, IEEE Digital Library, Citeseer and GoogleScholar are very good online catalogues for technical literature search. Both the ACM and the IEEE publications can be downloaded for free from within the Uni Zürich domain.

Another good starting point are the proceedings of major conferences, such as:

Review Guidelines

The report of each student goes through a first review phase, done by the teaching assistant and 2-3 other students. The goal of this first reviews is to give some useful feedback on the report, which should then be improved and modified accordingly.

The reviews take the following criteria into account:

  • Technical quality (critical analysis of the topic)
  • Logical structure (the structuring of the work)
  • Presentation (the use of graphics and tables)
  • Style (orthography and typos)
  • References (significant selection of relevant literature)

Each category is graded on an 0 to 6 scale (with minimum increments of 0.25):

  • 5 - 6: An excellent work.
  • 4 - 5: A good work with just a couple of small weaknesses.
  • 3 - 4: An average work with clear weaknesses.
  • 0 - 3: Insufficient work with many substantial weaknesses.

Every participant has to review two other participants' reports. The whole reviewing process (the reports and their subsequent reviews submission) will be done through the EasyChair online platform. An email with all the necessary instructions will be sent after the seminar kick-off.


The delivery website (Easy Chair) can be found here.

On that, you have to create a new user account and then you can easily upload your report with the appropriate menu option.

Presentation Day

All the participants will present their work on a special presentation day (May 16th, from 14:00, room BIN 1.D.06).

Every presentation consists of a 20 minutes talk followed by a 10 minutes discussion.

All the participants need to have the presentation in electronic format (MS Powerpoint, Apple Keynote or slides in PDF/PS). We provide both a beamer and a laptop to be used (in case you don't want to use your own laptop).

Attendance to all the presentations is mandatory. Exceptions are made only if a proper, official excuse (e.g. doctor's excuse note) is given.

Presentation Guidelines

  • Make sure that your talk includes enough background material and motivation so that it can be understood by those who are not specialists in what is being presented.
  • Design your slides using large text and diagrams such that they can be read by anyone in the room. The person far away in the corner may be the one with central insights to your work, so make sure he/she gets the message, too.
  • Do not place text on the slides that you will speak aloud anyway. The audience will read the text faster than you speak, and continuously experience lags. Slides and spoken word should support each other, and not be redundant representations of each other.
  • Modern presentation programs can switch the laptop screen in presenter mode, showing the upcoming slides or presenter notes. Make use of these tools to ensure fluid transitions between slides and a smooth information flow.
  • Spend at least one slide to clearly motivate your work, explicitly stating the problem you are addressing.
  • Spend at least one slide on related work, such that the audience can place your work in a greater context.
  • Do not end with a slide saying nothing but "Thank you!" or "Questions?" Instead, on the last slide, summarize your talk (problem, approach, results). Have this slide stay on the screen during the discussion; people will be able to recall your talk and provide insightful questions and comments.
  • Presentations are allotted 30 minutes: 20 minutes for talk, 10 minutes for questions & answers. These limits will be strictly enforced.

Weiterführende Informationen


Teaser text