"The Law Doesn't Work Like a Computer": Exploring Software Licensing Issues Faced by Legal Practitioners

Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) 2024

Most modern software products incorporate open source components, which requires compliance with each component's licenses. As noncompliance can lead to significant repercussions, organizations often seek advice from legal practitioners to maintain license compliance, address licensing issues, and manage the risks of noncompliance. While legal practitioners play a critical role in the process, little is known in the software engineering community about their experiences within the open source license compliance ecosystem. To fill this knowledge gap, a joint team of software engineering and legal researchers designed and conducted a survey with 30 legal practitioners and related occupations and then held 16 follow-up interviews. We identified different aspects of OSS license compliance from the perspective of legal practitioners, resulting in 14 key findings in three main areas of interest: the general ecosystem of compliance, the specific compliance practices of legal practitioners, and the challenges that legal practitioners face. We discuss the implications of our findings.
Full text

A Comprehensive Study of Bills of Materials for Software Systems (Thesis)

International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) 2024

Software Bills of Materials (SBOMs) have emerged as tools to facilitate the management of software dependencies, vulnerabilities, licenses, and the supply chain. Significant effort has been devoted to increasing SBOM awareness and developing SBOM formats and tools. Despite this effort, recent studies have shown that SBOMs are still an early technology not adequately adopted in practice yet, mainly due to limited SBOM tooling and lack of industry consensus on SBOM content, tool usage, and practical benefits. Expanding on previous research, this thesis reports a comprehensive study that first investigates the current challenges stakeholders encounter when creating and using SBOMs. The study surveyed 138 practitioners belonging to five groups of stakeholders (practitioners familiar with SBOMs, members of critical open source projects, AI/ML practitioners, experts of cyber-physical systems, and legal professionals), using differentiated questionnaires. We interviewed eight survey respondents to gather further insights about their experience. We identified fourteen major challenges facing the creation and use of SBOMs, including those related to the material included in SBOMs, deficiencies in SBOM tools, SBOM maintenance and verification, and domain-specific challenges. We propose and discuss six actionable solutions to the identified challenges and present the major avenues for future research and development. We hope these solutions can be adopted by the community to improve SBOM formats, tools, and adoption, and thus, enable the full potential of SBOMs.
Full text

Procedural Generation of Metroidvania Style Levels (Thesis)

Washington and Lee Library - 2020

Video game maps can become dull with repeated play-throughs and handcrafting a variety of maps can be a tedious and time consuming process. This is especially true for games of the Metroidvania genre, games which focus on exploration. If there was a way to adequately automate the creation of levels, then in theory, the games would have enhanced replay value. Previous researchers have used artificial intelligence and genetic programming techniques to engineer new mappings. But, is it possible to procedurally generate levels using graph theory and without using training examples or simply placing pre-built assets? In this paper we propose a system to model Metroidvania maps as directional graph structures. The system uses an algorithm that crafts graphs meeting all of the constraints necessary for level generation. These generated graphs are verified as winnable with the keys assigned to appropriate nodes. Once the graph has been created and validated it is rendered into a 2-D level using pygame. During the rendering process, the game demo constructs the walls and platforms essential to the game. We were able to procedurally generate Metroidvania levels of varying sizes and gating techniques using this sequence of steps.
Full text