Spotlight on Young Researchers: Chetan Arora

 

Chetan Arora always knew he wanted to do a PhD, but did not see himself pursuing research beyond that. A few years later, the Indian national has completed his PhD in Requirements Engineering at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, under the supervision of FNR PEARL Chair Lionel Briand – but this is only the beginning. During his PhD, Chetan’s passion for the challenging nature of research was lit, when he helped create a novel tool suite, which has the potential to have a big impact on software engineering.

In 2012, after finishing his Masters, Chetan Arora was working for a company in Kaiserslautern when he received an offer to do a PhD in the topic he had been searching for – Requirements Engineering:

“I received an offer from the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, from Professor Lionel Briand (FNR PEARL Chair and Vice Director of the SnT), asking if I was still interested in doing a PhD and of course I was!”, Chetan says when asked how he ended up in Luxembourg, adding:

“It was not a difficult decision. Even when I was doing my Masters, I very much had a link to industry. When I came to know that my PhD was in collaboration with industry (SES), it was a perfect match.”

What does software have in common with a skyscraper?

Chetan’s PhD subject was Requirements Engineering, the first phase of building software, where all the requirements – what the software needs to do and how – are gathered in great detail.

“The requirements are basically the foundation of the software. If you are trying to build a skyscraper and your foundation is not right, you are going to end up with a problem sooner or later”, Chetan explains, adding:

“Statistically it also is known that almost 50 – 60% of software projects that fail do so because the requirements are not clear.”

There are two main issues with requirements. Firstly, requirements are written in ‘natural language’ – English, simply because it is the most common language among stakeholders. This sounds straightforward, but as Chetan points out everyone has different ‘types’ of English; individual jargon, expressions – this can lead to imprecise and ambiguous requirements.

Secondly, as with any document, the first draft is not usually the final version. Requirements documents go through many changes every day. These documents tend to be hundreds of pages long and with constant changes; the document can quickly become inconsistent.

Novel technology to help ensure accuracy in early stages of software development

Chetan explains that the work he did during his PhD was essentially quality assurance for requirements: “We devised a very novel technology where when you make a change in a requirement, you are able to visualise what other requirements will be impacted.” 

An overview of the various solutions in the RQA tool suite developed by Chetan during his PhD.

For example, if a requirement says something has to be done ‘periodically’: does this mean every 5 milliseconds or 5 hours? “Imagine if there is a flight and it is supposed to periodically send data to a ground station, if it’s not clear what ‘periodically’ is, it could lead to huge problems” Chetan says.

There are other technologies available to analyse requirements, but Chetan explains that they are both very expensive and still require a huge amount of manual user input, whereas the technology he helped develop is much more automated. It’s already being tested at SES and has generally received enthusiastic feedback, as Chetan details:

“This is something that has really gained traction, not only at SES – recently we were contacted by a company in Canada that came across our research, and they are actually building commercial tools for requirements engineering / requirements quality assurance and they were impressed and interested.”

Passion for facing challenges

Seeing the instant impact his PhD work is having has also made Chetan want to stay in research – something he thought he would never do: “I always thought, I will do my PhD and then move out of research and go into industry, but during the PhD I kind of started to like what I was doing, because first of all you are doing research, and you have new challenges every day. There are challenges you don’t even know, you sleep at night and think everything went perfectly and then when you come in the next day and you discover a new challenge, technology-wise or other.

“This is very encouraging and motivating. And the good thing in Luxembourg is that to be able to work here at SnT, you are not just sitting in a closed lab working on something – you get to see a direct impact at a company. For me, that is ‘applied research’, to actually be able to see the impact. If you ask any researcher what they are trying to do they will say they are trying to help people. Here you can see directly how you are helping people, and if not, then why not.”

“If you don’t tell people about your work, nobody will know”

In addition to discovering that research is for him after all, Chetan has also already achieved what many researchers in his domain strive to do all their careers: He has already published 2 scientific papers in the top journal in his domain (IEEE TSE).

“This in part due to my supervisors Prof Briand and Dr. Sabetzadeh – they always encourage all the PhD students to always go for the best publishing venues”, Chetan says, pointing out that he is yet to have a paper rejected, which he in part puts down to the novelty of his specific research area, but also to the fact that his papers are about a technology that is already being tested in an industry setting. He also stresses the importance of publishing research findings, saying “if you don’t tell people about your work, nobody will know”.

“Luxembourg is making a mark on the global research map”

Chetan is currently working as a postdoc at the SnT after completing his PhD. Research is an area he is now passionate about staying in, also because he wants to be a part of tackling the new challenges facing technology:

“What I have done so far is a drop in the ocean. There are so many different new technologies evolving every day which you can use – and improve. I am hoping to find some opportunities to work in this, especially in a setting like this, where you do your research with industry and you are able to see the impact of your research.”

Chetan hopes to be able to continue his work in Luxembourg, which as he explains is making great strides in getting international recognition for the technology domain:

“A couple of years ago I was in Canada for a conference (IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference). It’s a top-level conference, everyone working in the field wants to attend, but it’s got something like a 19% acceptance rate. Yet, 4% of the people who were accepted to go were from Luxembourg. How much of the world’s population does Luxembourg make up at a global level? Still, 4% of the global acceptances were people from Luxembourg, and 2 of those submissions came from us at the SnT. Luxembourg is making a mark on the global research map!”

Published 23 March 2017

Update July 2017: Chetan Arora has successfully secured a Postdoc grant from the FNR’s AFR-PPP (Industrial Fellowships) programme.

Dr Chetan Arora

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the third in a series of around 20 articles, which will be published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Maxime Brami

Archaeologist and trained anthropologist Maxime Brami works on uncovering the origins and spread of agriculture, and has just landed a sought-after Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. We speak to the Luxembourg national about what it’s like to be an archaeologist in academia, the collaborative nature of the field and why archaeologists have a certain responsibility.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Nanotechnology – a future big player in health

Divya Balakrishnan, Dipti Rani and Serena Rollo are women in science working in a field that could have a major impact on how health is managed: In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow César Pascual García at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the team works on developing sensors for biochemical applications focusing on medicine.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Dimitra Anastasiou

In 2015, Dimitra Anastasiou was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. In November 2015, Dimitra moved to Luxembourg with her young family to start her prestigious Marie Curie Individual Fellowship at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). One year on, we caught up with Dimitra!

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Sebastian Scheer

Senior Postdoc Sebastian Scheer’s thirst for understanding how biological systems work led him to dive into the world of immunology research. After moving from Germany to Canada, the Luxembourg national got the chance to set up his group leader’s new lab in Australia, where his research revolves around the T cell, a key player in the shaping of immune responses.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Martin Řehoř

In industry, computer simulations and optimizations are established approaches to inform and improve engineering designs. As part of his Industrial Fellowship, Postdoc Martin Řehoř works on numerical solvers that could help solve design problems that involve the processing of fluids.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Mohammad Zare

Floods across the world have resulted in tremendous economic damage and loss of lives: better tools to predict flood rise and recession are needed. The biggest question facing researchers like Mohammad Zare is how to accurately simulate and predict this complex phenomenon. As part of an Industrial Fellowship between the University of Luxembourg and company RSS-Hydro, the Postdoc Works on improving the simulation and prediction of flash floods, with the goal to develop a decision-making model for flood protection in Luxembourg.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Paul Johanns

Paul Johanns works in a research field one does not read about every day: knots. As part of his AFR PhD at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Luxembourg national combines high-precision model experiments, computation and theory to untangle the influence of topology on the mechanics of complex knots, particularly those used in surgical procedures.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Gilles Tossing

Gilles Tossing’s fascination for the human brain – and why it sometimes fails – led him to the path of research. Now in the second year of his AFR PhD at Université de Montréal in Canada, the Luxembourg national investigates neurodegenerative diseases, with the aim of improving treatments for those affected.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Jo Hoeser

Ever since he was a child, Jo Hoeser wanted to understand the function of complex systems. He found himself taking apart and trying to fix broken electronic devices. Then fascination for chemistry came into the mix. Fast forward some years and the Luxembourg national completed his AFR PhD in biochemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg – and wants to return to the Grand Duchy to continue his career in research.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Understanding brain mechanisms behind eating disorders

Eating disorders affect up to 5% of people. At the University of Luxembourg, Dr Annika Lutz and Lynn Erpelding study the brain mechanisms that help form body image, and want to understand how eating disorders develop. Using a multidimensional approach, the team’s ultimate goal is to improve treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics purposes. Find out more in our Privacy Statement