Software testing : the gap between academic and business circles

Last time I made a presentation to an audience about my work as a software engineer for a software vendor, I was asked if I were aware of a team of researchers in the local university studying…. software testing. The answer won’t surprise the french reader : of course I never heard of those guys.

Back when I was a student in computer science in a french university, I felt we did not deal enough with the business world. I was happy with the very academic way we were taught computer science. I felt a bit awkward about the research topic that were covered by the researchers (articles answering to articles mentioning articles…. but not much about the use of all this). For example, we spent hours on the “theoretical network” (the OSI’s 7 layers) and just mentioned what was actually used in company’s network. Or we discussed “theory of database” but first time I really used one was year later (Oracle !). Maybe that was ok after all. Still, I did not follow the PHD path and went in the software business world.

Now 15 years later (yes), I see this from the other side and I feel the same disappointment. To be very factual, in the software testing world there is of course tons of books, conference, mentors, tools and methods that are coming from the trenches. And in a parallel world, there is a research field :

My concern is : how come none of the software tester I know have ever read those paper or attended such a conference ? And why I never met any researcher in all the Agile Testing conference I went ?

I guess that in some fields academic and business meet more. For example, complex static tests performed on high quality demanding software takes a lot from academic research (e.g. Polyspace, french startup acquired by Mathworks a couple of years ago).

I wonder what is the situation in other country were software testing is big (US, Germany, India for example).

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