How to develop a bad research tool

Jason Lowe-Power. 2021 Workshop on Negative results, Opportunities, Perspectives, and Experiences (NOPE 2021). Held with ASPLOS. 2021

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How to build bad research tools

A good research tool is one which has impact. Building a good research tool is hard, so instead let’s see how to build a bad research tool!

In the style of David Patterson’s “How to give a bad talk” and “How to have a bad career”, this talk gives tips and tricks on how to develop bad tools. Software artifacts such as prototype systems, simulators, RTL designs, and data analysis tools are paramount to computer systems research. In some cases, the tools developed for a project can have more impact than research papers. This impact comes not from the inherent beauty of cleverness of the artifact, but from other people using and building off of the artifact. In the video, I discuss how to develop a bad tool, what you can do instead, and how the broader community can incentivize developing good tools.