Programming Productivity and Wellbeing: From Tools and Types to Cognition and Medicine

February 5, 2024
JCC 402
Speaker: Madeline Endres
Host: Jeff Foster


Can we use neurosymbolic insights to help programmers write more correct code faster? Can reading technical material make students better at programming? Do professional developers think cannabis use leads to more creative programs?" By combining core software engineering and programming languages techniques with insights from psychology and medicine, I strive to understand and improve programmer productivity and wellbeing for novices and experts alike. In this talk, I will cover three approaches I use in my research: First, I build and assess software tools based on program synthesis and neural insights to help both students and professional developers write correct code more quickly. Second, I measure and leverage the cognition of programming to help novices become experts faster via educational interventions. Third, using qualitative and quantitative data from almost a thousand developers, I delve into the external factors influencing productivity, including the growing impact of psychoactive substance use by professionals. I will conclude by discussing how such interdisciplinary perspectives can help us address some of the most critical human-centered challenges in software engineering.


Madeline Endres is a final year computer science PhD student at the University of Michigan where she is advised by Westley Weimer. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Software Engineering, Programming Languages, and human factors, where she uses an interdisciplinary approach to improve programmer productivity and wellbeing. Current projects include building tools and methods to support developers to write more correct code faster, using medical imaging techniques to learn more about the cognitive basis of programming, and studying the impact of psychoactive substances on software developers. Madeline is a recipient of the NSF GRFP, and her work has received a distinguished paper award at FSE. When she is not doing research, she enjoys cooking, biking, and playing with her cat, Cleo.