Reflections on My First Workshop Proposal

About two months ago I put together my first workshop proposal. It was a unique experience that I was able to navigate with ease due to unfailing support from my fellow organizers. While I won’t post the actual document here, if you are interested in reading it, shoot me an email so I can confer with my fellow organizers and send a copy over via email.

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Favortism and Jealousy at Work

I’ve been thinking a lot over the recent months about how much healthy, functioning relationships are necessary for research progress. A feeling of fairness and having been heard is a necessary pre-condition for camaraderie, and I am ever more convinced that camaraderie is a necessary pre-condition for a productive work environment. Co-workers need not be friends, but they need to respect each other and feel respected by each other. So in this post, I’m going to talk about some things I’ve observed when that camaraderie is strained by favortism and jealousy. I certainly don’t have all of the answers, so I would definitely appreciate feedback in the comments! Also, I am not a philosopher, nor a psychologist, and I’m sure there are some very beautiful and inscrutable musings by Kant or whomever that make these points better.

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Tests, Experiments, and Various Effects

Reading through some software engineering textbooks, I’ve felt vindicated in my hunch that SE has a distinctly “scientific” feel about it. By this I mean the empiricism, adherence to the scientific method, etc., all feels quite different from other subdisciplines of CS.

For about a year now, Kaleigh have been chatting more and more about how testing in software engineering feels so much like experimental design. As I’ve delved more into the SE literature, it’s become clear that that is no accident – the SE textbook that UMass uses uses “test” and “experiment” almost interchangably in the validation chapter, and I’ve seen similar language and approaches in test suite generation to experimental designs such as Latin squares.

To narrow things down a bit, I’ve been thinking more about how to take e.g. an individual acceptance test in Toybox and think about it in terms of experimentation. In order to do that, we need to reason about counterfactuals and even candidate underlying causal models. Below is a collection of perhaps overly-detailed musings meant to help focus my dissertation writing that are deeply intertwined with conversations we have been having around XAI…

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What I've been doing all year(s)

Well, this blog post is only a few weeks late. Fortunately my excitement hasn’t waned: I’m psyched to write about a project I’ve effectively been working on since May of this year.

I’m working with John, Kaleigh, and David on a new testing framework for deep reinforcement learning. We presented a version of the work at NeurIPS this year, and are submitting it to a software engineering conference soon. It’s called ~~ Toybox ~~, it’s written in Rust, and there’s more cool information about it on my Projects page.

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