CREST: Centre for Research on Evolution, Search and Testing, Platform Grant.

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Computer Science


CREST's approach to Software Engineering places search--based optimisation at its heart. The CREST philosophy is that software engineering can be thought of as a search for good quality solutions within a potentially enormous search space, while balancing many different competing, sometimes conflicting, objectives. We believe that this philosophy is important in all engineering disciplines, but it is in Software Engineering where it finds its greatest potential. The materials and artifacts used in software engineering are very different; they are pure processes and information, essentially without physical manifestation. This makes the search--based optimisation agenda particularly apposite and offers the significant advantage of automation. The work supported by this platform proposal will develop, extend and disseminate this agenda of Automated Optimisation in Software Engineering.


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Islam S (2014) Coherent clusters in source code in Journal of Systems and Software

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/G060525/1 31/08/2009 30/07/2010 £1,091,081
EP/G060525/2 Transfer EP/G060525/1 31/07/2010 30/08/2014 £925,401
Description This grant was a platform grant used to support the CREST centre, first at Kings College, and subsequently, after it moved to University College London.

The platform grant an able just to retain key researchers, many of whom are world leading research is in their own right, or have become so, during the course of their involvement on the grant, as members of the CREST centre, supported by the grant.

The nature of platform grant is that they hold a group together, and so research findings associated with this award and more usually associated with related projects, but without the platform grant, several of these important findings would not have been possible. We would have lost key staff who have contributed to these research outputs on other grants without the platform grant.

And example of this is the field of genetic improvement, through which software systems are automatically improved using techniques associated with genetic programming. This area of research is now blossoming all round the world, and is primarily associated with our program grant DAASE (dynamic adaptive automated software engineering). However, one of the key researchers in this topic, Dr Bill Langdon, was only retained in the centre as a result of the platform grant, and many of the findings associated with the field of genetic improvement would not have been possible without his retention.

Genetic improvement of our software systems to be dramatically improved, reducing their energy consumption, improving their response time and reducing their consumption of resources, all automatically achieved, using genetic programming and related techniques. Dr Langdon is undoubtedly one of the worlds leading experts in this area, and the program grant was instrumental in allowing us to retain him, and we deploy him on the DAASE grant.

The platform grant was also used to initiate the highly influential CREST open workshop series, which is now had over 1,500 attendees, from all of the leading research institutions in suffering during around the world. More information about the CREST open workshop is available on the CREST website at
Exploitation Route Many companies are using the techniques developed by the CREST centre during the period of the platform grant, including Microsoft, Visa, Huawei and Google, all four of which are provided additional funding to support the centre during the period of the platform grant all since its completion, following on research developed during the period of the grant.

The work with Microsoft was submitted has an impact case study to the REF2014 for King's College.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

Description There has been significant recent industrial impact for the research underpinning these grant and others for which Prof. Harman was PI. The Prof Harman became engineering manager at Facebook London, where he leads the Sapienz team, working on Search Based Software Engineering (SBSE) for automated test case design and fault fixing. The development of SBSE was a key research direction for this grant that underpinned the work. Sapienz has been deployed to continuously test Facebook's apps, leading to thousands of bugs being automatically found and fixed (mostly by developers, but more recently, some of these faults have also been automatically fixed by Sapienz). The software tackled by Sapienz consists of tens of millions of lines of code; apps that are among the largest and most complex in the app store and that are used by over a billion people worldwide every day for communication, social networking and community building. Previously, various consultancy projects have been undertaken by members of the group supported by this platform grant. For example, the Chinese telecoms company Huawei have used the results of this research, in a £50,000 consultancy project.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Economic

Title GP Bibliography 
Description The GP Bibliography is a repository of all publications on the topic of genetic programming, which is maintained by Bill Langdon (William B. Langdon). The repository has been available since before 2006, but since 2011, its maintenance has been supported by the EPSRC project GISMO, which funds, in full, Dr Langdon. It was started by Dr langdon when he was at the University of Birmingham, though he has been at University College London since 2010. The University of Birmingham continues to host the repository, while support for its maintenance and update by Dr langdon comes from UCL, through GISMO Project. Before the GISMO Project, Dr langdon was funded by the CREST platform grant and SEBASE projects. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Repository contains over 7000 entries, and is widely used by other researchers. It is the first point of call for any researcher working in genetic programming, in order to search for and find relevant information on previous research in this area. 
Title SBSE repository 
Description This collects the work which address the software engineering problems using metaheuristic search optimisation techniques (i. e. Genetic Algorithms) into the Repository of Publications on Search Based Software Engineering 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This repository is the first point of contact for all researchers working in search based software engineering. It has been used by a number of other researchers in systematic literature reviews, as a source of comprehensive information regarding all papers on this topic. It contains over 1200 entries, and lists over 1500 different researchers. A number of different analyses have been built on top of the repository, and it has been used by many researchers in the construction of their related work. 
Description AUSTIN is a structural test data generation tool (for unit tests) for the C language. It is designed as a research prototype and the aim of this project is to aid researchers in automated test data generation using search-based algorithms. It is based on the CIL framework and currently supports a random search, as well as a simple hill climber that is augmented with a set of constraint solving rules for pointer type inputs. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2011 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact We don't track users of the tool, but we have become aware of several organisations, both academic and industrial where the tool has been used through email correspondence.