Research overview

My research interests span the areas of Software Engineering and Data Mining (and often focus on combining the two). I am currently focussing on developing techniques to solve the following problems:

  • Automated test generation for black-box components, such as Integrated Circuits or closed-source software components.
  • Reverse engineering behavioural models (such as state machines) from sequential data traces, such as network traces or function invocation sequences.
  • Aggregating uncertain evidence to facilitate complex, multifaceted decision problems. I am applying these techniques in Software Engineering to reason about evidence in safety arguments, and also to reason about uncertain decisions in autonomous systems.

Ph.D. Students

Current students:

  • Basil Eljuse (part time, working at ARM plc.)  is investigating the application of search-based software testing techniques to testing the non-functional requirements of ARM ICs.

Past students:

  • Othman Esoul is investigating the combination of Machine Learning algorithms with Fuzz-testing techniques to detect vulnerabilities in network protocols, graduating 2018.
  • Tom Gransden, the use of Machine Learning algorithms to detect proof tactics, graduated 2017.
  • Mohammad Al Shraa', Reverse Engineering Design Patterns, graduated in 2015.

Current program/scientific committees


  • AWE NuSec Pilot project: Evidential Reasoning for Radiological Detection (2016)
  • DSTL ASUR phase-2: Trust for Autonomous Systems - Principal academic investigator, with Frazer Nash Consultancy and Qinetiq (2016)
  • InnovateUK TestMiner project (joint with DRTS) - Principal academic investigator (2016)
  • DfT TTRIG PREPARED project (Predicting, Preventing, and Analysing Rail Delays) - Principal Investigator (2015)
  • DSTL ASUR EVIRE project (An Evidence-Based Reasoning Framework to Support the Transparent Control, Verification, and Validation of Autonomous Systems) - Principal Investigator (2015)
  • DSTL HASTE project (joint with Critical Software and The University of Southampton) - PI for Leicester (2013-2014)
  • DSTL BATS project (Building Adequate Test Sets by Reverse Engineering) - Principal investigator (2012)
  • EPSRC REGI project (Reverse Engineering Software Models By Grammar Inference) (EP/F065825/1) - Recognised Researcher (employed as researcher 2009-2010)
  • EPSRC STAMINA project (EP/H002456/1) - CI / Recognised Researcher (2009-2012)
  • EU FP7 ProTest project - Research Assistant (2008-2009)
  • EPSRC AutoAbstract project - Research Assistant (finished 2008)


Please contact me for further information on any of these publications.


M. Hall, N. Walkinshaw, P. McMinn
Effectively Incorporating Expert Knowledge in Automated Software Remodularisation
IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (accepted)

Shamshiri S., Rojas JM. , Galeotti JP., Walkinshaw N., Fraser G.,
How Do Automatically Generated Unit Tests Influence Software Maintenance?
International Conference on Software Testing (ICST’18), Vasteras, Sweden, 2018


Dunkerton S., Jeve Y., Walkinshaw N., Breslin E., Singhal T.
Predicting Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) during Cesarean Section using the Leicester PPH Predict Tool: a Retrospective Cohort Study.
The American Journal on Perinatology

N. Walkinshaw
Software Quality Assurance: Consistency in the Face of Complexity and Change
Springer, Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science, August 2017

O. Esoul, N. Walkinshaw
Extracting Packet Structures from Captured Network Data Using Segment-based Alignment
The International Conference on Quality, Security, and Reliability (QRS'17),
Prague, Czech Republic, July 2017

N. Walkinshaw, G. Fraser
Uncertainty-Driven Black-Box Test Data Generation
The International Conference on Software Testing (ICST'17)
Tokyo, Japan, March 2017


N. Walkinshaw, M. Hall
Inferring Computational State Machine Models from Program Executions
The International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME'16)
Raleigh, USA, October 2016

B. Eljuse, N. Walkinshaw
A Search-Based Approach for Stress-Testing Integrated Circuits
The International Symposium on Search Based Software Engineering (SSBSE'16)
Raleigh, USA, October 2016

R. Taylor, E. Tuosto, N. Walkinshaw, J. Derrick
Choreography-Based Analysis of Distributed Message Passing Programs
Formal Approaches to Parallel and Distributed Systems (4PAD),
24th Euromicro Conference on Parallel, Distributed, and Network-Based Processing (PDP'16)
Heraklion, Crete


S. Nair, N. Walkinshaw, J. de la Vara, T. Kelly,
An Evidential Reasoning Approach for Assessing Confidence in Safety Evidence
The International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE'15)
Gaithersburg, USA, November 2015

S. Scarle, N. Walkinshaw
Visualising Software as a Particle System
The International Working Conference on Software Visualisation (VISSOFT'15)
Bremen, Germany, 2015

T. Gransden, N. Walkinshaw, R. Raman
SEPIA: Search for Proofs using Inferred Automata
International Conference on Automated Deduction (CADE'15),
Berlin, Germany, 2015

G. Fraser, N. Walkinshaw
Assessing and Generating Test Sets in Terms of Behavioural Adequacy
Journal of Software Testing, Verification and Reliability (published online March 2015)

N. Walkinshaw and R. Taylor and J. Derrick
Inferring Extended Finite State Machine Models from Software Executions
Journal on Empirical Software Engineering (published online March 2015)

P. Papadopoulos, N. Walkinshaw
Black-Box Test Generation from Inferred Models
International Workshop on Realizing Artificial Intelligence Synergies in Software Engineering (RAISE'15)
Florence, Italy


M. Hall, M. Khojaye, N. Walkinshaw, P. McMinn
Establishing the Source Code Disruption Caused by Automated Remodularisation Tools
The 30th International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ERA Track) - ICSME 2014
Victoria, Canada

S. Nair, N. Walkinshaw, T. Kelly
Quantifying Uncertainty in Safety Cases Using Evidential Reasoning
International Workshop on Next Generation of System Assurance Approaches for Safety Critical Systems (SASSUR 2014)
Florence, Italy

T. Gransden and N. Walkinshaw and R. Raman
Mining State Based Models from Proof Corpora
Mathematical Knowledge Management track
Conferences on Intelligent Computer Mathematics (CICM'14)
Coimbra, Portugal


N. Walkinshaw and R. Taylor and J. Derrick
Inferring Extended Finite State Machine Models from Software Executions
The Working Conference on Reverse Engineering (WCRE'13)
Koblenz, Germany

N. Walkinshaw
Using Evidential Reasoning to Make Qualified Predictions of Software Quality
The 9th International Conference on Predictive Models in Software Engineering (PROMISE'13)
Baltimore, USA

N. Walkinshaw
Reverse Engineering Software Behaviour
Chapter - Elsevier Advances in Computers, volume 91, 2013

N. Walkinshaw, B. Lambeau, C. Damas, K. Bogdanov, P. Dupont
STAMINA: A Competition to Encourage the Development and Assessment of Software Model Inference Techniques
Journal of Empirical Software Engineering, 18(4), 2013

N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov
Automated Comparison of State-Based Software Models in terms of their Language and Structure
ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, 22(2) - 2013


M. Hall, N. Walkinshaw, P. McMinn
Supervised Software Modularisation
The 2012 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM 2012)

G. Fraser, N. Walkinshaw
Behaviourally Adequate Software Testing
Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Software Testing (ICST 2012)
Montreal, Canada

K. Meinke, N. Walkinshaw
Model-Based Testing and Model Inference
Proceedings of the International Symposium on Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods (ISOLA 2012), Heraklion, Crete


N. Walkinshaw
Assessing Test Adequacy for Black-Box Systems Without Specifications
Proceedings of the 2011 23rd IFIP International Conference on Testing Software and Systems (ICTSS 2011)
Paris, France, November 2011

N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov
Adapting Grammar Inference Techniques to Mine State Machines (Chapter),
Mining Software Specifications: Methodologies and Applications
D. Lo, S-C. Khoo, J. Han, and C. Liu (Eds),
Chapman Hall / CRC, Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery Series, 2011

S. Adra, M. Kiran, P. McMinn, N. Walkinshaw
A Multiobjective Optimisation Approach for Dynamic Inference and Refinement of Agent-Based Model Specifications
Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC 2011)
New Orleans, USA, June 2011


N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov, J. Derrick, J. Paris
Increasing Functional Coverage by Inductive Testing: A Case Study
Proceedings of the 22nd IFIP International Conference on Testing Software and Systems (ICTSS 2010)
Natal, Brazil, November 2010

N. Walkinshaw
The Practical Assessment of Test Sets with Inductive Inference
Proceedings of Testing Academia & Industrial Conference (TAIC PART'10), 
Windsor, UK, August, 2010

N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov, C. Damas, B. Lambeau, P. Dupont
A Framework for the Competitive Evaluation of Model Inference Techniques
Proceedings of the International Workshop on Model Inference in Testing (MIIT 2010)
Trento, Italy, July 2010

N. Walkinshaw, S. Afshan, P. McMinn
Using Compression Algorithms to Support the Comprehension of Program Traces
Proceedings of the International Workshop on Dynamic Analysis (WODA 2010)
Trento, Italy, July 2010

M. Hall, P. McMinn, N. Walkinshaw
Superstate Identification for State Machines Using Search-Based Clustering
Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2010)
Portland, USA, July 2010

S. Afshan, P. McMinn, N. Walkinshaw
Using Dictionary Compression Algorithms to Identify Phases in Program Traces
Technical Report CS-10-01
Department of Computer Science
The University of Sheffield, January, 2010


K. Bogdanov, N. Walkinshaw
Computing the Structural Difference between State-Based Models
16th IEEE Working Conference on Reverse Engineering (WCRE 2009)
Lille, France, October 2009

N. Walkinshaw, J. Derrick
Incrementally Discovering Testable Specifications from Program Executions
Proceedings for Formal Methods for Components and Objects (FMCO'09), Springer LNCS(6286)
Eindhoven, Netherlands, November 2009

N. Walkinshaw, J. Derrick, Q. Guo
Iterative Refinement of Reverse-Engineered Models by Model-Based Testing
16th International Symposium on Formal Methods (FM 2009), Springer LNCS(5850)
Eindhoven, Netherlands, November 2009

Q. Guo, J. Derrick, N. Walkinshaw
Applying Testability Transformations to Achieve Structural Coverage of Erlang Programs
21st IFIP International Conference on Testing of Communicating Systems (TestCom 2009), Springer LNCS(5826)
Eindhoven, Netherlands, November 2009


N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov, M. Holcombe, S. Salahuddin
Improving Dynamic Software Analysis by Applying Grammar Inference Principles
Journal of Software Maintenance and Evolution, 20(4), pp.269-290, 2008

M.Kiran, S. Coakley, N. Walkinshaw, P. McMinn, M. Holcombe
Validation and Discovery from Computational Biology Model
BioSystems, 93(2008), pp. 141-150, 2008

N. Walkinshaw, K.Bogdanov, S. Ali, M. Holcombe
Automated Discovery of State Transitions and their Functions in Source Code
Software Testing, Verification and Reliability vol. 18, pp. 99-121, 2008

N. Walkinshaw, K.Bogdanov, K. Johnson
Evaluation and Comparison of Inferred Regular Grammars
9th International Colloquium on Grammar Inference (ICGI'08), Springer LNAI(5278)
St. Malo, France, September 2008

N. Walkinshaw, K.Bogdanov
Inferring Finite-State Models with Temporal Constraints
23rd IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE'08)
L'Aquila, Italy, September 2008


N. Walkinshaw, K.Bogdanov, M. Holcombe, S. Salahuddin
Reverse-Engineering State Machines by Interactive Grammar Inference
14th IEEE Working Conference on Reverse Engineering (WCRE'07)
Vancouver, Canada, October 2007

N. Walkinshaw, M. Roper, M. Wood
Feature Location and Extraction using Landmarks and Barriers
23rd IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM'07)
Paris, France, October 2007

F. Bernardini, M. Gheorghe, F. Romero-Campero, N. Walkinshaw
A Hybrid Approach to Modelling Biological Systems
8th Workshop on Membrane Computing, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science 4860/2007,
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2007

N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov
Applying Grammar Inference Principles to Dynamic Analysis
Program Comprehension and Dynamic Analysis (PCODA'07),
Vancouver, 2007

S. Ali, K. Bogdanov, N. Walkinshaw
A Comparative Study of Methods for Dynamic Reverse-Engineering of State Models
Technical Report CS-07-16 
Department of Computer Science
The University of Sheffield, October, 2007


N. Walkinshaw, K. Bogdanov, M. Holcombe
Identifying State Transitions and their Functions in Source Code
1st IEEE Testing Academia & Industrial Conference (TAIC PART'06), 
Windsor, UK, August, 2006

Neil Walkinshaw
Partitioning Object-Oriented Software for Inspections
PhD. Thesis, The University of Strathclyde,
June 2006.


N. Walkinshaw, M. Roper, M. Wood
Understanding Object-Oriented Source Code from the Behavioral Perspective
13th IEEE International Workshop on Program Comprehension (IWPC'05)
St. Louis, USA, May 2005

N. Walkinshaw, M. Roper, M. Wood
Collecting and Categorising Faults in Object-Oriented Code
UKTest 2005, 
Sheffield, September 2005

D. Kirk, M. Roper, N. Walkinshaw
Attribute Slicing
Dagstuhl Slicing Seminar Report
November 2005.

N. Walkinshaw, M. Roper and M. Wood
Extracting User-Level Functions from Object-Oriented Code
the ECOOP Workshop on Object-Oriented Reengineering (WOOR'05), 
Glasgow, July 2005

Serge Demeyer, Kim Mens, Roel Wuyts, Yann-Gaël Guéhéneuc, Andy Zaidman, Neil Walkinshaw, Ademar Aguiar, and Stéphane Ducasse
Report of the 6th international Workshop on Object-Oriented Reengineering
July 2005

N. Walkinshaw
Inspecting Object-Oriented Code from the Behavioural Perspective
Doctoral Symposium Abstract
ECOOP Doctoral Symposium, Glasgow, July 2005


N. Walkinshaw, M. Roper, M. Wood
The Java System Dependence Graph
3rd IEEE International Workshop on Source Code Analysis and Manipulation (SCAM'03),
Amsterdam, Netherlands, September 2003

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