University of Minnesota
Software Engineering Center

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Mats Heimdahl

Photo of Mats Heimdahl
Computer Science and Engineering Department Head
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Kenneth H Keller Hall room 6-201

M.S. Computer Science and Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 1988.

Ph.D. Computer Science, University of California at Irvine, 1994.


Professor Mats Heimdahl specializes in software engineering and safety critical systems. He is the director of the University of Minnesota Software Engineering Center (UMSEC).

Heimdahl is the recipient of the National Science Foundation's CAREER award, a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship and the McKnight Presidential Fellow award at the University of Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post-Baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.


Software is increasingly involved in our lives; software controls physical systems ranging from microwave ovens and watches to nuclear power plants, aircraft, and cars. Computer-related failures can, in many of these applications, have catastrophic effects.

My research group, the Critical Systems Research Group (CriSys), is conducting research in software engineering and is investigating methods and tools to help us develop software with predictable behavior free from defects.

Research in this area spans all aspects of system development ranging from concept formation and requirements specification, through design and implementation, to testing and maintenance. In particular, we are currently investigating model-based software development for critical systems.

Specifically, we are focusing on how to use various static verification techniques to assure that software requirements models possess desirable properties, how to correctly generate production code from software requirements models, how to validate models, and how to effectively use the models in the testing process.


Software engineering and safety critical systems.

Recent Publications

A Reference Model for Simulating Agile Processes

Agile development processes are popular when attempting to respond to changing requirements in a controlled manner; however, selecting an ill-suited process may increase project costs and risk. Before adopting a seemingly promising agile approach, we desire to evaluate the approach's applicability in the context of the specific product, organization, and staff. Simulation provides a means to do this. However, in order to simulate agile processes we require both the ability to model individual behavior as well as the decoupling of the process and product.

Automated Oracle Data Selection Support

The choice of test oracle—the artifact that determines whether an application under test executes correctly—can significantly impact the effectiveness of the testing process. However, despite the prevalence of tools that support test input selection, little work exists for supporting oracle creation. We propose a method of supporting test oracle creation that automatically selects the oracle data—the set of variables monitored during testing—for expected value test oracles. This approach is based on the use of

Are We There Yet? Determining the Adequacy of Formalized Requirements and Test Suites

Structural coverage metrics have traditionally categorized code as either covered or uncovered. Recent work presents a stronger notion of coverage, checked coverage, which counts only statements whose execution contributes to an outcome checked by an oracle. While this notion of coverage addresses the adequacy of the oracle, for Model-Based Development of safety critical systems, it is still not enough; we are also interested in how much of the oracle is covered, and whether the values of program variables are masked when the oracle is evaluated.