Dr Thomas Laurent wins prestigious Lero Prize for work in software testing
Posted on: 06 September 2023
Dr Laurent, from the School of Computer Science and Statistics, was recently awarded a Lero Director’s Prize for PhD / Post-Doctoral Researcher Contribution at the annual summit of the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Software.
Lero Director’s Prizes are presented each year when researchers from Lero’s 12 partner universities and institutes of technology come together to share ideas at the summit. This was the fifth year of the honours conferred by Lero on some of its outstanding members nationwide.
Dr Laurent’s research focuses on software engineering and testing. His PhD focused on mutation analysis – a technique that assesses how well a software system is tested. In short it introduces small artificial bugs into a software system and checks how well they are detected by the system’s tests.
Software faults can not only have tremendous economic impact, but also knock-on human impacts when data is mishandled, decision systems make mistakes, or cyber-physical systems malfunction, so it is important to make sure bugs are caught during development.
Mutation analysis helps with this but is computationally expensive, so Thomas’ research looks at scientific and practical questions such as which bugs should be generated, and how their impact should be analysed.
One particular focus of his PhD saw him apply this research to autonomous driving systems at the National Institute of Informatics, Japan, and with their industry partner Mazda. This was thanks to Lero's Memorandum of Understanding.
Dr Laurent said: “I am delighted to have received this award, but also so grateful for all the people who helped me along the way. First, I have to mention Dr Anthony Ventresque, Funded Investigator in Lero and Associate Professor at Trinity, who encouraged me to go for the PhD and supervised me so well along the way.
“Anthony’s team, the Complex Software Lab, offers such a great environment to do a PhD as everyone is supportive and kind. The group really made the PhD a great experience, despite its challenging nature. Lero is also a great environment for PhD students, postdocs, and early career researchers in general as it offers access to a network of brilliant researchers, and excellent talks and workshops.
“Currently I’m finishing a two-year postdoc between Lero and NII and will be joining Anthony in Trinity to work on his SFI FFP award, where we will try to evaluate how to use complex mutants, and to work on a project in collaboration with industry. In short, some exciting Software Quality research ahead.”
Speaking at the Lero summit, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Lero, said he never fails to be impressed by the calibre of work conducted by Lero’s research teams.
“Lero researchers devise innovative solutions for practical challenges spanning a wide spectrum of domains, ranging from uncovering deepfake videos generated using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhancing surgical skills. Their expertise, commitment, and creative approach to problem-solving consistently leave me in awe. These accolades acknowledge the best of that work,” he said.