PhD Tourism

One of the perks as a PhD student is attending conferences and workshops at many places in the world. First of all, this gives you the chance to meet interesting people from all over the world, present research results and discuss with people (not only) about work. Apart from these professional benefits and the personal development, visiting such venues gives you the chance to visit countries you might not have been to before. And, although, being linked with some bureaucracy, it is often possible to combine such a business trip with a few days of holiday. Thus, these travels compensate for the, compared to industry standards in computer science, low salary of a PhD student. Especially for someone as me, who loves taking photos, this is a very nice compensation for the long hours working to get the papers accepted.

While the title of this section was chosen rather provocatively, its message is not too far-fetched in my case. First of all, I was lucky enough to get several papers excepted during my time as a PhD student (cf. with my list of publications). Secondly, most of these papers were submitted to venues at places where I have never been before and my supervisor allowed me to visit them despite the costs. And lastly, my supervisor always gave me the chance to add a few personal days before or after the venue. In fact, in one case, we organized a road trip together and visited Kruger National Park in South Africa with two other colleagues.

To be clear about the intention of this post: I am not promoting to start a PhD just because you like traveling. Being a PhD student is oftentimes a tough job (especially when working towards a deadline). Thus, your personal interest in professional and personal development should be the number one priority when starting a PhD. However, in my opinion, embracing the additional opportunities to not only learn more about your proficiency, but also about other countries and cultures is just sensible.

On this page, I will give a short overview of all business related trips during my PhD together with venue, the accepted paper and a link to photos that I took during the trip. The list’s intention is mostly to keep a summary for personal purposes. However, I also thought that it might be interesting for people visiting my website and wondering where all the pictures were taken (apart from my vacation trips).

Tokio 2013

Tuna at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tuna at the Tsukiji fish market

Venue: International Workshop on Model-Driven Approaches in Software Product Line Engineering (MAPLE) at the International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC), Tokyo, Japan

Comment: This was my first publication as a first author and was published before I finished my Master of Science in 2014 and started my PhD in 2015. In addition, this was my first visit to Japan, which I enjoyed a lot and made me come back a few times in the following years.

Photography: Japan gives a lot of nice opportunities to take pictures, because the culture is so different from Europe. Especially the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is a place that fascinates me. Sadly, it was closed in October 2018.

Link to the Photos

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Schloss Dagstuhl 2014

Schloss Dagstuhl, Wadern, Germany
Schloss Dagstuhl

Venue: International Feature-Oriented Software Development (FOSD) Meeting, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics, Dagstuhl, Germany

Comment: During my Master’s thesis, I was invited to the FOSD Meeting at Schloss Dagstuhl. Schloss Dagstuhl is (at least in academic computer science) known for the Dagstuhl Seminar series, which brings researchers from specific areas together for informal meetings to talk about future research directions and to exchange new ideas. The informal FOSD Meeting allowed me to present the ideas of Master’s thesis in front of a scientific audience and to get valuable feedback on my ideas.

Photography: In the evening, I was able to take a few pictures during walks on the compound of Schloss Dagstuhl.

Link to the Photos

Hong Kong & Macau 2014

Sunset over Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Sunset over Hong Kong Island

Venue: Student Research Competition at the International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), Hong Kong

Comment: Shortly before handing in my Master’s thesis in November 2014 and starting my job as a PhD student in January 2015, this paper was accepted at the Student Research Competition. As a result, this business trip gave me the chance to unwind from them six month of writing my Master’s thesis. In addition, I was able to visit Macau by taking a speed boat from Hong Kong . As Macau is a former Portuguese colony, it has a completely different flair than former British colony Hong Kong.

Photography: Similar to Japan, you get a lot of unfamiliar impressions in Hong Kong. What striked me most is that the busy downtown and the quiet islands are just a short ferry ride apart.

Link to the Photos of Hong Kong

Link to the Photos of Macau

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Oslo 2015

Fountain (long exposure), Oslo, Norway
Fountain (long exposure)

Venue: International Symposium on Formal Methods (FM), Oslo, Norway

Comment: Although, I did not have an accepted paper, I registered for a tutorial on correctness-by-construction development of algorithms. While the tutorial was canceled, I met with a research partner from University of Technology Eindhoven (Netherlands) for a work meeting. In the long-term, this new acquaintance developed into a fruitful collaboration.

Photography: Although being very expensive, Oslo is really nice city with an interesting mixture of modern buildings (e.g., the opera house) and old buildings (e.g., the royal palace). Thus, a lot of photo opportunities exist.

Link to the Photos

Ōsaka & Kyōto 2016

Street in Ōsaka, Japan
Street in Ōsaka

Venue: International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering (SANER), Ōsaka, Japan

Comment: This was my first conference publication as a first author and was a result of generalizing the approach developed for reverse-engineering variability in MATLAB/Simulink models and statecharts. For the first part of my vacation, I explored different parts of Ōsaka. In addition, I spent a couple of nights in Kyōto

Photography: Ōsaka is a nice city to enjoy good japanese food as it is often referred to as the foody town of Japan. Kyōto, on the other hand, is much more interesting with regard to culture and sights as it is famous for its temples and shrines. Thus, many interesting opportunities for taking photos can be found in Kyōto.

Link to the Photos of Ōsaka

Link to the Photos of Kyōto

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Eindhoven 2016

Old Bicycle at the NDSM Wharf, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Old Bicycle at the NDSM Wharf


Comment: This visit to Eindhoven was not related with any publication or venue, but to start a collaboration with colleagues from University of Technology in Eindhoven. After finishing work in Eindhoven, I made a detour to Amsterdam on my way back to Germany and spent my birthday there.

Photography: Although Eindhoven is a nice small city, I did not have much time to take photos here as I mainly worked with the colleagues. Instead, I took photos in Amsterdam during my vacation.

Link to the Photos of Amsterdam

Ede 2016

Hoge Veluwe Park, Netherlands
Hoge Veluwe Park

Venue: Winter School: “Big Software on the Run: Where Software meet Data”, Ede, Netherlands

Comment: The winter school was very interesting and I learned a lot about other research fields (e.g., business process mining and data visualization) that are loosely related with my research. In addition, the winter school offered the chance to meet interesting young researchers and seniors to discuss about different research areas. For my poster presented during the poster session, I received the Best Poster Award and I was given the chance to give a presentation of my research.

Photography: Ede is small dutch town that does not have many famous sights. However, during the excursion to the close-by Hoge Veluwe Park (a dutch national park famous for its heather), I took a few pictures.

Link to the Photos of the Hoge Veluwe Park

Amsterdam 2016

Bike, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Venue: International Workshop on Feature-Oriented Software Development (FOSD) at the International Conference on Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH), Amsterdam, Netherlands

Comment: Directly after the winter school in Ede, I presented a paper at the FOSD workshop in Amsterdam. As the workshop started on Sunday, I had the day off on Saturday and was able to spent some time in Amsterdam. Most of the colleagues from the institute joined me on Sunday either because they had papers accepted at the FOSD workshop or the International Conference on Generative Programming: Concepts & Experience (GPCE) colocated with SPLASH. As we rented a whole house for the stay, this visit to Amsterdam felt a lot like a class trip.

Photography: During my day off on Saturday, I explored Amsterdam and took a few pictures of the canals.

Link to the Photos

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Corfu 2016

Sunrise, Corfu, Greece

Venue: International Symposium on Leveraging Applications of Formal Methods, Verification and Validation (ISoLA), Corfu, Greece

Comment: Due to a strike of the Greek air traffic controllers, my colleague and me canceled our flights. However, on the next day, the air traffic controllers also canceled their strike. Thus, we booked new flights in the afternoon for the next morning and left one hour later for the train station. We took a train from Braunschweig to Cologne and spent the night at the airport to take the plane early in the morning. This was one of the most exhausting business trips, but we were rewarded with a very nice hotel, good food and one relaxing afternoon at the hotel beach.

Photography: We had booked a guided tour of Corfu town and saw the famous Kanoni Church on our way. Overall, the island offers a nice landscape and different opportunities to take interesting pictures.

Link to the Photos

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South Africa 2017

Lioness, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Venue: Workshop on Advances in Knowledge Extraction and Re-engineering of Software (WAKERS), Stellenbosch, South Africa

Comment: The supervisor of my PhD thesis is working together with colleagues from Stellenbosch University on different research topics (e.g., correctness-by-construction). During her sabbatical, she came up with the idea for the workshop and I was invited to give a presentation on my research on reverse-engineering variability. The linked publication is a journal publication in the special issue of this workshop and presents the results of my collaboration with colleagues from University of Technology in Eindhoven.

Photography: When discussing details of my visit, we came up with the idea to take the opportunity and to combine work with a visit to Kruger National Park. Thus, on the way over, I made a stopover in Johannesburg and we rented a car together with two other colleagues from Germany and Italy. The road trip to Kruger National Park and the actual safari are among the top ten of best experiences, which I had so far. During our visit, I was able to take a lot of nice wildlife pictures and we were lucky to see the big five of wildlife (i.e., rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard). On my way back to Europe, I had to stopover in Eindhoven to present another paper. As a detour via Germany would not have made sense (I would have stayed only for two nights in Germany), I was also able to stay a bit longer in Stellenbosch and the Cape region after the workshop.

Link to the Photos of Kruger National Park

Link to the Photos of Stellenbosch & Cape Region

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Eindhoven 2017

Venue: International Workshop on Variability Modeling in Software-intensive Systems (VaMoS), Eindhoven, Netherlands

Comment: This visit to Eindhoven was only focused on presenting my paper. However, the workshop reception was in the Philips Museum and the workshop dinner was in one Michelin-star Restaurant Wiesen. Thus, the overall visit to Eindhoven was not only focused on work, but we had the chance to learn more about the history of Philips and eat very exquisite food.

Photography: This was one of the few business trips, where I did not have the chance to take pictures, although, I had the camera with me.

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Kamiyamaguchi 2017

Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Fuji

Venue: National Institute of Informatics Japan (NII) Shonan School: “Mining Software Repositories: Accomplishments, Challenges and Future Trends” at the Shonan Village, Kamiyamaguchi, Japan

Comment: Although my research is not directly related with this area of work, I was lucky to get accepted to the No.095 Shonan Meeting organized by National Institute of Informatics Japan (NII). The Shonan Meetings have a similar focus as the (at least in academic computer science) famous Dagstuhl Seminars. The idea is to bring researchers from specific areas together for informal meetings to talk about future research directions and to exchange new ideas. This particular meeting was organized as a Shonan School to teach young (PhD) students about mining software repositories (e.g., to analyze the impact of changes on the software quality) by giving lectures and hands-on sessions.

Photography: After the Shonan School, I stayed another week in Tokyo for sightseeing and enjoying the nice Japanese cuisine. Of course, a had my camera along to take pictures. One of the highlights was the visite to the tuna auctions at Tsukiji fish market.

Link to the Photos of Tokyo

Sevilla 2017

Venue: International Systems and Software Product Line Conference (SPLC), Sevilla, Spain

Comment: Although I did not actually visit this conference, I listed it for the sake of completeness. For this conference I had submitted a paper as first author (and another one as second author), which previously got rejected from another conference. When submitting the paper, I already knew that I would not be able to attend the conference myself, because I already had booked a trip to Japan with my girlfriend. Luckily, one of my colleagues and coauthor of the paper agreed to present it for me. What I did not know was that the paper not only would get accepted, but would also receive an award from HITACHI for the best young research paper. While I would have loved to receive the certificate by myself, I enjoyed the vacation with my girlfriend a lot and, thus, was compensated for the missed opportunity.

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Vancouver 2017

Foggy sunrise at Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Foggy sunrise at Stanley Park

Venue: International Workshop on Feature-Oriented Software Development (FOSD) at the International Conference on Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Comment: Just one week after I returned from my vacation in Japan, I flew to Vancouver to present a paper. Because of the huge time difference from Japan over Germany to Canada’s west coast, it was a very exhausting business trip. Nevertheless, the conference was interesting and afterwards I stayed one extra day to visit the city.

Photography: Due to the huge time difference I was jet lagged a lot and, thus, woke up every night around three a.m. Instead of watching late-night shows and movie reruns, I used the extra time to take pictures of Vancouver during the night and at sunrise.

Link to the Photos

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Toronto 2018

Basketball court with downtown Toronto in the background, Toronto, ON, Canada
Basketball court with downtown Toronto in the background

Venue: International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering (CASCON), Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Comment: This time I did not have a talk myself, but one of my colleagues presented our results. However, as our paper was awarded with the best paper award by the IBM Center for Advanced Studies, my supervisor kindly decided that I could visit the conference anyway to network with people and advertise our institute.

Photography: Having visited Toronto in 2010 to stay for one month at a language school, I was really looking forward to this stay to revisit some of the spots from back then. Due to the limited time, I mostly visited spots around downtown Toronto, Toronto Island and the Distillery District.

Link to the Photos

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the author (David Wille) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the author’s current or former employers.