At Amsterdam Science Park, we believe knowledge has no borders. That’s why you’ll find cutting-edge institutes, top-class facilities and business incubators in one convenient location. You’ll meet motivated students, innovative researchers, talented scientists and adventurous entrepreneurs – all in an environment where it’s easy to work together. Cross-disciplinary initiatives and holistic thinking flourish. Ground-breaking research projects become successful spin-offs. That’s the strength of Amsterdam Science Park: connecting boundless minds.
Patricia Lago is Professor of Software Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, which collaborates intensively with the University of Amsterdam (UvA) at Amsterdam Science Park.
“I arrived in the Netherlands from Italy in 2003, after five years as Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Torino, where I completed my PhD in 1998. One of the reasons I chose Amsterdam is because of its culture of collaboration and dialogue. At VU, we have a growing collaboration with the University of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Science Park. I also advise SURFSara on software sustainability, and I am involved in a number of collective initiatives such as the Network Institute and Amsterdam Data Science, which unites VU, UvA, the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and other institutions. With SURFSara and UvA, we are organising the ICT4S 2016 conference on sustainability in ICT research and practice."
“I chose Amsterdam because of its culture of collaboration and dialogue”
“I lead the Software and Services Research Group at VU, and my main interest is in sustainable software engineering. The question we are trying to answer is: how can software be both smart and sustainable at the same time? We develop software to be more energy-efficient and to serve sustainability goals, including longevity and reliability. Energy efficiency is a major concern. Enormous data centres all over the world consume huge amounts, and the ICT industry is reckoned to use 50% more energy than aviation. A lighter, more efficient infrastructure is needed."
“At VU, we’ve built the Green Lab, which measures software energy efficiency and other system qualities. A lot of software is bloated, because over the decades we have made it easy to develop applications that are not optimised. We produce 20% more data every year, yet it seems that only 1% of this data is used effectively. In banks, for example, a lot of computation takes place only during the last week of each month – with a waste of resources the rest of the time. If we can control the security issues, then banks will be able to migrate this activity to a data centre. Sustainability should also be social, so digital inclusion is another focus for us. As part of our research, we also work with cities on projects to develop smarter, more sustainable software solutions."
“The question is, how can software be both smart and sustainable at the same time?”
“Sustainable software will become increasingly important as in the future, as every company in every industrial sector will effectively need to become a software company. We can see this happening today with Amazon, for example, and Disney, which had to buy Pixar to survive. In the automotive industry, most innovation now lies in software systems for cars as extensions of home and workspace. Cars will be the smartphones of the future, especially when they become self-driving."
“Against this background of change, spin-offs from our research are likely. One possibility is commercialising our Green Lab for companies to measure the extent to which their software solutions achieve what we call ‘software intents’ like energy efficiency, reliability, performance. Another promising area is in tools for software simulation, which enable verification to take place before development so we can create really optimised software."
“Sustainable software will become increasingly important as every company becomes a software company”
“The two computer science departments of VU and UvA have tight collaboration links. I come to the Science Park almost every week for meetings and I think it’s a great place to work. I have the idea that there’s a lot here I don’t know about, I think the park could certainly be more visible and outward looking. In my area, there’s plenty of related expertise and some top-notch research institutes, including CWI and SURFSara.”
“It’s really exciting to be able to shape what happens next in this new technology, and Amsterdam Science Park is playing a leading role in the field. What is of the utmost importance is that we tap into lots of different disciplines here – physics, maths, biology, chemistry, and even law because of the security issues. These disciplinary intersections are where the most interesting things happen. While in Europe most funding so far is governmental, I think it’s vital that industry gets involved. My ambition for QuSoft is for it to be an important research institute, with spin-off start-ups and strong links to both the academic and business worlds.”