In the face of the vast scale of software-intensive systems needed today, modern development environments fail dramatically, typically leading to information overload, an inability to deal with the highly dynamic nature of both the systems and the organizations that develop them, and failure to support collaboration across organizational boundaries. The overarching aim of this project is to provide a scientific foundation for human-centered environments that make large-scale and distributed project awareness, communication, and coordination as effortless as in a small team. It accomplishes this by (a) performing empirical studies of real-world large-scale high-complexity software projects to understand how task coordination occurs in and contributes to organizational context, (b) developing an underlying theory of coordination in context, which will motivate and guide (c) the design of new coordination technology that explicitly addresses information overload, dynamism, and organizational boundaries.

Intellectual merit: The research will result in four contributions: (a) a sound theoretical basis that captures how task coordination and organizational context interplay at scale; (b) theory-driven empirical studies of in-context coordination; (c) knowledge about how to achieve improvements in productivity, quality, and development speed; and (d) a suite of design principles, tool prototypes, and interaction techniques for collaboration at a very large scale. These outcomes will transform the landscape of coordination technology by squarely addressing the issue of scale, moving from coordination within a team to coordination across many developers, across many teams, and across multiple geographical and organizational boundaries.

Broader Impacts: As society enters the era of "ultra large scale" software-intensive systems, coordination at such scales is a major unsolved problem, persistently hampering development and advances in vital domains such as healthcare, security, defense, eGovernment, and energy. The outcomes of this project will not only provide major economic benefits, but also major societal benefits in the form of the new systems that now can be developed. Through close collaboration with industry partners, the results will quickly find their way into practice. The project will also increase involvement of women in computer science through workshops and mentoring activities.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
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Kevin Crowston
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University of Nebraska-Lincoln
United States
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