Charles Franke Memorial Lecture Friday, April 26 1:15pm – 2:15pm  Arts and Sciences Hall, Room 109

SHU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Charles Franke Memorial Lecture

Friday, April 26

1:15pm – 2:15pm

Arts and Sciences Hall, Room 109

Thomas Marlowe, Professor Emeritus
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Seton Hall University


  The Four Principles of Software Engineering

In this presentation, I will present informal but key principles of software engineering—four principles and two meta-principles—in an interactive format.

In this overview, we look at preparing for development, following up on development, dealing with development, and learning from development, both specifically software development and problem-solving more generally. We combine career preparation with software development as problem solving, and consider the importance both of content knowledge and of “soft skills”—communication, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, and more. These principles are method-agnostic, although I touch on traditional, agile, and hybrid approaches, and briefly on more recent developments, including the use of generative AI in software development.

Whether you are looking to work in software engineering, or in mathematical or statistical modeling, information technology, cybersecurity, data analytics, or technical management, or decide to pursue a different path, and whether you are headed to a professional career or graduate school, these guidelines provide insights for lifelong learning, critical thinking, and career success.

Some reminiscences of Charlie Franke and his effect on my life and career

Thomas Marlowe
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science
Seton Hall University

The most important figures in my path toward my academic career were my parents, who taught me to value creativity and intellectual fun; Roz Wilder and her teen theater program, which showed me the value of improvisation and taught me about speech and listening (not that I’m always so good at the latter) and movement; my CS advisor, Barbara Ryder, who reinforced for me the difference between concept and theory, and by her example and my experience in her research circle and reading group, made my teaching style more reflective and more communicative.

And Charlie Franke, who together with Dr. Saccoman’s father, John J Saccoman, was the first model for my teaching style, the biggest influence on my love of mathematics, and a model for proper academic discussion and behavior—in addition to being a solid researcher and a top-flight competitive bridge player.

I transferred to Seton Hall after a semester at Purdue, where I had difficulties, and the next semester off, with a number of AP and exam credits. In my second term, as a sophomore, Charlie, with the support of the then-chair, Joseph Andrushkiw, allowed me to take a graduate course, Algebraic Number Theory, in which I did well. The two of them then arranged for me to take my BS and MS simultaneously, without double-dipping, long before dual degrees or double-counted credits became the fashion, and I graduated with the one in May 1970, and the other that August.

One thing I remember about Charlie’s teaching style was that he taught without notes. He had absolute control over the material, although sometimes he varied his explanations or order, either in response to questions or just because he had a new thought. I remember only one time—and at that point Andrushkiw had retired and Charlie was already chair, and teaching in a room adjacent to the chair’s office, with a door between—when he had been sick and was quite tired—he got about halfway through the lecture, and then said, “I’ve lost my place, let me go look at my notes”. Three minutes later, he was back and did the rest of the class without a problem.

Even at that time, I suffered from a bit of the sun allergy that has become more serious over time, and spent most of my time between classes—when I wasn’t sitting in on other classes—inside, often sitting in Charlie’s office (or in John Sweeney’s in English). I suspect he tolerated me the way he would have any lost soul, but also valued me as one of his better students.

One other memory I have of my undergraduate career was of the first structured weekly department seminar, which if I remember correctly involved faculty and upper-class and possibly graduate students, meeting 3 to 5 on summer Fridays—back when tuition didn’t mean we had to work two jobs to make ends meet.

After graduating from SHU, I went to Rutgers to study for a PhD, which had a few bumps, and then to Arizona State University on a visiting faculty appointment. Coming back after a year, I managed to get a last minute full-time appointment at St Peter’s, enjoyed teaching greatly, but found it hard to do research without collaborators (and without a computer where editing was easy), and so was not renewed after three years.

I had no idea what to do, when Charlie, who by that point was chair, asked me to teach a graduate course as an adjunct—Math Methods in Social Science, using Fred Roberts’ book, still one of my favorite courses, and one that has influenced my research ever since. Gene Reynolds and Ken Ganning—faculty in our department—were in that class, together with Walt McMahon from the Prep and Mike Lieberman—the only regular class I’ve ever given in which every student earned an A. I think that Charlie’s involvement in that course also influenced the creation of courses for Psychology and for Political Science students, which might just be revived in the future.

After that year, I was hired full-time as an instructor, and the year after on tenure-track. Coming back into the department, I found it difficult to call the faculty who had taught me by their first names, and so for over three years, it was mostly, “Hey” or “Sir” or “I’ve been thinking.” But after a while, it came naturally.

I was still having trouble doing research, and Charlie, who had started a MS in Computer Science at Rutgers, suggested that I do the same, as the likeliest way of getting tenure. Since I don’t drive, Charlie would give me a lift home from classes whenever our schedules would coincide, and we would talk about all sorts of things on the trip. I quickly found congenial collaborators in Rutgers CS, including Barbara Ryder, and decided to stay for the PhD, which has led to a very productive research and teaching career and many more collaborators, some of whom are here at SHU.

All in all, Charlie was an important mentor and patron, and undoubtedly one of the most profound influences on my teaching and my academic career.

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