Modern technologies, including the Internet, e-mail, text messages and an array of social media options, have grown in recent years to offer an infinite amount of information to consume. A Wayne State University researcher has teamed up with West Virginia University to make life’s daily data load more manageable and less distracting.

Andrian Marcus, associate professor of computer science in WSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is collaborating with Tim Menzies, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at WVU, in hopes to ease the distractions and stress of information overload faced by programmers during software development.

Marcus and Menzies recently received a $500,000 National Science Foundation award — with $256,000 directed to WSU — for their project “Better Comprehension of Software Engineering Data,” which aims to make software developers work more efficiently.

“Software systems today are larger and more complex,” Marcus said. “They are built over many years by hundreds of developers. The amount of data in software systems that a developer has to deal with is staggering. We aim to produce tools and techniques that will allow software developers and managers to easily customize data mining techniques to help software development work.”

Already widely used by scientists in many fields, data mining techniques are in need of adaptation to work with software data.

“Data mining methods first blew up in the early 1990s with successes such as Google,” Marcus said. “For the mainstream software developer, however, the methods are difficult to understand. We will put the task of prioritizing and processing information into simpler, easily utilized terms.”

Marcus and Menzies are looking at ways to customize search results, so that individuals can more precisely set the boundaries of the information they want and receive the most pertinent results. The researchers plan to test the results of their efforts among students and industrial partners.

“Our goal is to make a calmer, more streamlined flow of incoming information, with unneeded information filtered out and important information emphasized,” Marcus said. “In doing this, we hope people encounter less unneeded information, will be more focused and reap the greatest benefits out of the technologies that have become ubiquitous in our daily lives.”

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