Dr. Marouane Ksentini is pProfessor and interim chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, part of the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (OUAI) at the University of Auckland. In addition to artificial intelligence, his research interests and classes revolve around software engineering.
Kessentini is set to receive the OU’s Researcher of the Year award, which honors the OU faculty member who has achieved the most competitive grant funding in a fiscal year. He will also receive the Most Active Research Award, which is given to the faculty member with the most grants during the financial year.
“We are trying to improve the quality of software, which is used basically everywhere: in transportation, health industries, and so on,” said Cisentini. “We are working on automatically detecting errors in bots, making it easier to use and adapt them. This is done in an automated manner.”
An example of their work is building an infrastructure that will help those from other fields or those who have lower levels of proficiency in software engineering.
“We have built a bot that does an automated assessment of the quality of your code and provides you with guidance,” he said. “This helps provide a simpler way for people who may not be computer programming experts, such as those in the science community in physics and biology, to create code.”
Kessentini has several students working with him on this research – many of whom are female in what was considered a predominantly male field. He is very proud of their achievements in academia, research and industry.
“Last summer, they actually went to validate their tools built during the school year more widely in industry settings at companies like Ford,” Chisentini said. “This was facilitated by the National Science Foundation. We spend a lot of time in our lab trying to address the problems of our industry partners.”
Kessentini has a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, but decided to “step out of his comfort zone” by working in software engineering. He thinks the two go hand in hand.
His interest in this field was also inspired by many natural processes – such as transplants and the immune system – as well as communication with industries.
“I use a technique called an artificial immune system to determine what is good and normal behavior for a program, and I also have another contribution related to that about what’s called code implantation,” Cisentini said. “It is similar to the concept of organ transplantation. The idea is to develop new code that is integrated into an existing program.
He continued, “I am also interested in providing scalable solutions to the industry and building scientific foundations that can be used in practice.”
There are many exciting events and opportunities happening in Computer Science at OU. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Industry-University Collaborative Research Centers (IUCRC) Program is set to begin soon at OU.
“There are many industry partners who are members, and our faculty and students will provide ideas and fund projects,” Chisentini said. This is done in collaboration with two other universities: the University of Colorado Boulder and Oregon State University. More than 15 faculty and students are scheduled to present the research we do at the center.”
In addition, OU organizes a prestigious international research conference on Software Engineering (ASE 2022) next week, October 10-14. More than 200 people will travel internationally to attend. There will be distinguished speakers from academia and industries such as Facebook.