CSC News

February 21, 2018

Parnin’s Research Shows There’s No Such Thing as a Minor Interruption

Dr. Christopher Parnin, assistant professor of computer science at NC State University, has been awarded $159,662 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his research proposal entitled “Building Visibility into the Cognitive Processes of Software Engineers via Biosensors.”


The award will run from February 1, 2018 to January 31, 2020.


Abstract – Despite its vast capacity and associative powers, the human brain does not deal well with interruptions. Particularly in situations where information density is high, such as during a programming task, recovering from an interruption requires extensive time and effort. Although researchers recognize this problem, no programming tool takes into account the brain’s structure and limitations in its design. In this project, we measure cognitive load of programmers during different programming tasks. To measure cognitive load, we collect both biometrics and metrics collected from sensors and brain imaging devices. We apply our measures to applications in the software engineering domain: 1) Measuring cognitive load during technical interviews, and 2) Correlating complexity measures of code with higher measures of cognitive load.

For more information on Dr. Parnin, click here.



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