Friday, 6 January 2017

SyntheSys Managing Consultant Jeremy Dick has received an award 23 years after completing the work!

Jeremy, 61, of Newbury in Berkshire, worked in 1993 with a colleague on a paper about automating the generation and sequencing of test cases from model-based specifications.  At the time he was working for computer manufacturer Bull Information Systems in Paris, where he had a post in the corporate research centre.

Jeremy said: “Bull had a history of generating test cases for the testing of computer hardware from the specification of the hardware.  They wanted to do the same with software and that’s what we were researching.

“The paper was published by Springer and made available to the general public.  I published the paper with a colleague, Alain Faivre, in a series of conferences called Formal Methods Europe (FME), today called simply Formal Methods.

“Twenty three years later that same conference decided to give us an award as the paper had had around 400 citations during the twenty three years!

“It has formed the basis for a lot of other people’s work in the same area.”
As the conference was internationally based, the paper has been cited by groups from all over the world.

The essence of the paper is this: it had been well-known that test cases could be generated from the structure of computer code, giving notions of code coverage; the paper detailed a way in which test cases can be generated from the structure of formal specifications, giving rise to new notions of functional coverage.

The original paper was presented at FME93, which was held in Odense, Denmark.
Jeremy recently went to the Formal Methods conference in Cyprus to receive his award, the Lucas Award, from Professor Marie-Claude Gaudel, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, of the Université de Paris-Sud.

Jeremy added: “The award came literally as a bolt from the blue especially as after publishing the paper I left the group and started work in a different field, so that I never did this type of work again.

“I subsequently went into systems engineering and requirements management which is what I now do for SyntheSys, which specialises in military tactical communications systems.

“When you do this sort of work for a paper you have no idea of its significance at the time as this takes quite a long time to emerge – but perhaps not usually this long!

“Nevertheless, after 23 years I was delighted to receive this award.  I went to the conference and reconnected with colleagues from the past.

“One of my ex-colleagues like me had children who have grown up and left home during this time.  That brought it home what a long spell this was.”

*The official paper citation is: "Automating the generation and sequencing of test cases from model-based specifications", Jeremy Dick and Alain Faivre, Procs.  FME'93, Odense, LNCS Vol. 670, Springer, April 1993.