Research & Publications

My research explains the how and why of software, based on user intentions. We want to know that our software is doing what we told it. We also want to know the reasons our software does something unexpected. Finally, we want to be able to design software to meet our intentions in the first place. Some recent and ongoing projects:

All Publications

For a complete list, or mostly complete, best to look at one of the following sites.

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Technical Debt and Software Documentation

Technical debt is a short-term software design choice that incurs long-term costs if not dealt with. We look at technical debt in requirements, in architecture, and for emerging machine learning systems.

Qualitative Research and Peer Review

We are conducting studies into how qualitative research is emerging as a key research strategy for software engineering, which is, after all, highly subjective and contextual. A similar project looks at how we know what we know in software engineering, specifically for reviewing papers.

Bayesian Statistics

We are examining ways to improve the state of the art of software research statistical approaches, particularly by eliminating null hypothesis testing. Bayesian statistics works intuitively with the highly contextual nature of software projects, which tend to vary in size, domain, criticality, and numerous other places.

Software Requirements and Analysis

My background is requirements analysis and modeling, and this continues to be a passion of mine. All the funky stuff we can do with programming languages, testing, design, etc. is irrelevant if we are building the wrong thing.


  • N. A. Ernst, “Software Evolution: A Requirements Engineering Approach”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 2011. pdf (224 pages)
  • N. A. Ernst, “Towards Cognitive Support in Knowledge Engineering: An Adoption-Centred Customization Framework for Visual Interfaces”, unpublished M.Sc. thesis, University of Victoria, 2004. pdf (95 pages)

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