A research infrastructure for open science

One of the most significant recent developments in software archiving is Software Heritage (SH), the biggest Open Source code archive in the world, which aims at collecting, storing and sharing all source codes that have ever been produced. Codes and softwares broadly represent, along with hardwares, the basis for research and technology linked to the digital world and all its applications, which are themselves crucial for the development of general knowledge, from the social to the productive system.

The project Software Heritage is promoted by INRIA in cooperation with UNESCO. At ENEA in Bologna the first European institutional “mirror” of the archive will be available, contributing to ensuring its security and accessibility and also making it possible to consolidate and strengthen scientific research in this field.

The existence of the Archive persuaded ENEA-UNIBO-SH to launch a design research project in the field of Big Code also taking advantage of the potential of Software Heritage, a genuine mine of knowledge accumulated over the last 70 years.

Goals of the project

  • Expanding and consolidating expertise on “Big Code” through an open infrastructure, accessible to research, industry and citizens communities.
  • Involving local institutions (the Emilia-Romagna region, businesses, museums, schools) and citizens;
  • Increasing the level of digital awareness.

Possible applications

  • The Bologna “mirror” with its source code unique dataset will give the opportunity to start a research and explore different areas, such as: 
  • Source code mining from large databases using AI and ML to improve software production (development of automatic programmes, correctness, security… )
  • Creating a proper infrastructure to model, implement and manage big repositories. Multi-cloud systems using a set of architectures available locally;
  • training activities, linked to the development of softwares and computational thinking, including multi-disciplinary topics to broad and consolidate knowledge on “Big Code” and on advanced methodologies to implement Big Data archives;
  • involving young researchers in a new field of investigation (Big Code), with great growth opportunities and with a strong strategic role for the regional economic system and for qualified job placement. The idea is to give them the possibility to access computer infrastructures and data archives on an European level;
  • Address the problem of “digital heritage”, trialling new approaches to organise, store and index digital material and make it “resilient”;
  • Developing Open Science (Open Source-Data-Access-Methodology-Peer Review-Educational resources);
  • Promote the Software Heritage mirror at Bologna’s Technopole, creating an environment of high-quality research around it and promoting prestigious collaborations (SH, INRIA, UNESCO), and an environment of connections with the business fabric, involving all the technology transfer organisations and companies.

Head of research

  • University of Bologna, Department of IT, Science and Engineering (DISI)
  • ENEA – National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development

Project partners:

  • Software Heritage
  • DI-UNITO (IT department, University of Torino)

For further information, please contact: [email protected]