General Information
Name of Research Unit: (EEI-Norte-27)
Coordinator: Eugenio da Costa Oliveira
Main Scientific Domain: Engenharia Electrotécnica e Informática
Other Subdomains: n/a
Host Institutions
Leading Host Institution: Universidade do Porto
Other Institutions Involved:
Objectives & Achievements

Unit Description

Starting in 1988 with joint efforts of 5 PhDs in Computer Science and Artificial Intelliegence, LIACC -Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at the University of Porto, has been reconfigured at least twice along these 23 years. From the 5 pioneers, only two are still active at LIACC (two retired during 2010-11, one left in 2007).

In 2011, LIACC includes 20 PhDs, 23 other integrated researchers, mostly PhD students, and 13 more loosely connected collaborators. All of them belong to one of the two research groups (Computer Science-CS, and Distributed Artificial Intelligence & Robotics-DAI&R) mainly residing, respectively, at the Faculty of Sciences and at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto. None of the researchers holding a PhD is doing full-time research, contrary to some of the other researchers, being also heavily involved in lecturing (between 8 and 12 hours per week).

Management of LIACC is done according to the FCT Multi-year Funding Program rules (Strategic Projects), through a Coordinating Board, a Scientific Council and an external Advisory Board. The Coordinating Board is composed by four senior researchers, one of which is the LIACC Director. The Scientific Council, responsible for the approval of annual reports and plans, is composed by all the researchers holding a PhD. LIACC activities are periodically reviewed by an external Advisory Board. During 2011 the following LIACC members belong to the Coordinating Board:

Eugénio Oliveira (Director), António Porto, Francisco Restivo and Luis Paulo Reis.

- Advisory Board: Claude Kirchner (INRIA, France), Carles Sierra (IIIA, CSIC, Barcelona).

The two groups have some noticeable differences regarding research methods sensibility. While DAI&R group, mainly located at the Engineering Faculty is directed towards applied and problem-oriented research usually leading to prototyping, the CS group, mainly located at the Faculty of Sciences, is more devoted, though not exclusively, to theoretical research. Both groups are also heavily involved in post-graduation students’ supervision.

LIACC, as a whole, usually meet once a year for informal “brainstorming” about current and future research directions. It is also an opportunity to find out possible cross-points leading to collaboration among different researchers.

General Objectives

LIACC aims at producing both prototypes and relevant publications, while also assisting young researchers in developing their theses.

LIACC is proposing solutions for:

- Distributed, Dynamic and Decentralized (DDD) problems: We address classes of problems that are inherently of a Distributed, Dynamic and Decentralized nature as those that occur when different and heterogeneous entities/partners need to inter-operate over a computer network. Both Enterprise and Social Networking raise common issues related with understandability, negotiation, contracting, monitoring and trustworthiness that are crucial for mutual electronic-based relationships and joint work. We have been developing what is called an Electronic Institution which provides services like negotiation mediation, ontology mapping, contract drafting, norms enforcement and evaluation of trust and reputation indicators for consortia and Virtual Organizations life-cycle automatic assistance. We are also addressing Argumentation-based negotiation and trustworthiness assessment. Also, the Traffic management domain, both in terrestrial and aerial, as well as crowd movement can be seen as DDD problems. These problems are being addressed through Agent-based simulation paradigm using protocols we developed as general as possible. Agent-based Team coordination is another relevant research issue being pursued that is useful in multiple scenarios like agents’ joint missions in search and rescue domains. For that objective we are defining specific high-level languages for describing scenarios, missions and team coordinated activities. Coordination strategies, including tactics, flexible formations or setplays, are being developed.

- Text Mining: Methods for extracting information about opinions, events or trends, from user-generated contents through blogs, twitter and other on-line comments and from media (on-line news) are being developed in collaboration (including a Company). Our approach to Information Extraction is based on Natural Language Processing and ML techniques applied to the Portuguese language.

-Software reliability and declarativeness: We are developing a structured logic programming language platform, a high-level framework to manage and interact with databases, and a compositional, modular and parametric architecture for building service systems. We are investigating declarative Programming Languages (PL) based on extended forms of pattern matching, e.g. using functors with flexible arity, and developing models of functional PL including denotational semantics of Haskell. We are designing resource aware models of programming based on linear logic and linear lambda-calculus, wishing to explore the way restrictions based on linearity affect the way we write and reason about programs.

- Program/Software Verification: we aim to develop Proof Assistants using proof techniques by computational methods. We also explore the idea of proof-carrying code targeting concrete use cases.

Main Achievements during the year of 2011

- 6 PhD and 33 MSc Theses have been concluded in 2011. Other 30 PhD and 24 MSc Theses are in progress.

- 26 articles have been published or accepted for publication in journals. Articles in 22 journals plus 30 in proceedings are indexed (mainly ISI and SCOPUS), reflecting a larger percentage of publications in journals and improvement of quality.

- A book on Program Verification, co-authored by a LIACC member, was published by Springer.

- A first public demo of our Platform for Electronic Institutions (ANTE) has been done at EUMAS. The ANTE framework is being used as a tool for a course in Electronic Business Technologies at FEUP.

- Concerning the recognition by our scientific peers, we were involved in 8 Editorial Boards, the organization, at different levels, of 11 Conferences and Workshops, 46 Program Committees and 4 positions in governing boards, e.g. Board of Governors of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society and Executive Board of the International Federation for Computational Logic.

- LIACC is involved in 9 projects in collaboration with industry, 3 of which are international.

- LIACC visibility increased due to two co-developments: “Twittometro”, extensively used by Portuguese media (TV) during Portuguese elections; “Intellwheels”, with broad media coverage on TV, newspapers and magazines.

- Release of the first mathematically and mechanically modeled and proved SIL4 level (highest in the CENELEC standard) signaling system in the world (in collaboration).

- Educed, a spin-off by supervised students, was awarded by the GSI Accelerators program and incubated at Plug and Play Tech Center (Silicon Valley , USA).

- A sign of our progressive influence on the non-academic environment is the number (and quality) of contacts with organizations and companies, including Schneider, SAPO-PT Telecom, SISCOG, EFACEC, NDRIVE and TAP.

We have developed 20 prototypes, some of them deployed in non-academic environments.

In the more theoretical field, we have proposed:

- the definition of a recursive linear language. This theoretical result may have impact in the definition of resource aware functional languages applied to domains needing high control of computational resources such as embedded systems or real time computation

- an implementation of a verifier to a low-level assembly language (ARM) based on denotational semantics and abstract interpretation to deal with the WCET analysis in multicore environments

- a denotational semantics for Cube (structured Prolog), formalized and published in a journal

- meta facilities for Compass (services system platform) application management implemented in Compass itself

- Best paper in The 11th International Conference on Mobile Robots and Competitions

- 2nd place in the Freebots competition with "Intellwheels” project (in cooperation with INESC-P, UA, ESTSP and APPC)

- 2nd Place at RoboCup European Championship in both 2D and 3D Simulation leagues.


Integrative/multidisciplinary activities during the year of 2011

LIACC was able to set up bridges with many disciplines other than computing. Below, the major efforts and partners are listed by discipline:

* Linguistics

- REACTION: platform for “computational journalism”. Opinion mining from web-based information with U. Austin/Texas, IST, INESC-ID and SAPO.

- [Text information extraction and retrieval] Google Labs, SAPO. “O mundo visto daqui”: publication on Sapo news website (weekly).

-[Forensic Linguistics] Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University.

* Economics and Management

-[trust and reputation based negotiation], Economics-based concepts for the development of Trust and reputation computational models used in partners’ selection process for enterprises networking. Collaboration with Faculty of Economics, LIADD/INESC-Porto, LANIDOR. Information System for the academic environment in collaboration with SQIMI ( a spinoff)

* Health care

- [spine 3D reconstruction methods] Politéchnique Montreal, Laboratoire d'Imagerie et de Vision 4D, Canada, S.João Hospital.

- [Breast Cancer image understanding] S.João Hospital, INEGI.

- [Methods to Analyze Organs from Complex Medical Images] – Applications to Female Pelvic Cavity, with INEGI, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, USA, and Stanford School of Medicine, USA.

-[Intelligent Wheelchair] Collaboration with APPC (Society of Cerebral Paralysis), ESTSP/IPP (Health and Technology School) and IEETA, U. Aveiro on Biomahmatics, Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and physical therapy.

-[bioinformatics] computational, analytical and wet lab expertise to deliver new methods for data analysis research (Imperial College, U.London)

* Traffic

- [Traffic management] simulation involving real data from Porto Town Hall and NDRIVE.

-[Air traffic disruption]. MASDIMA is a multi-agent based model and system for airlines disruption management, developed by LIACC to be integrated into a Planning/Scheduling system. Collaboration with the larger AI-based Portuguese company (SISCOG) and TAP.

- IIFR, Research Institute for traffic behavior, sample of patients in rehabilitation from severe traffic accidents.

* Environment

- [Environmental systems, Agent-based simulation] Platform for Intelligent simulation of ecological environmental systems and decision support, with CIAGEB – U. Fernando Pessoa.

* Sports

- [collective sports] Analyzing game plays, game events and actions. Collaboration with the the Faculty of Sports at UP.

* Other

- [musical information processing, robot dancing] INESC-Porto.

-[analysis and simulation of human motion from images] with INEGI, for computational vision and bio mechanics.

-[MAS for shop-floor control] a PhD thesis with Schneider Eletric GmbH.

- [real time systems] Decentralized Coordination and Communication model for Real-time systems, with CISTER Research Centre.

Outreach activities during the year of 2011

* General society impact :

- Demos to visiting students from Secondary Schools

- “Profession: Engineer” Week. College students tour around FEUP, (DAI&R staff)

- Open days. Secondary school students tour around FCUP (CS staff)

- Proponents and organizers of the activity “Entertaining and educational robotics” integrated in the summer project “Universidade Júnior” at Universidade do Porto for young students (14-17 years of age)

- LIACC visibility through media coverage: “Twittometro”, extensively used by TV channels during Portuguese elections; “Intellwheels”, broadly publicized on TV, newspapers and magazines.

- Fifteen consecutive articles (May 20 –June 3) on the PÚBLICO nation-wide newspaper mentioning the work done by LIACC in collaboration with LASIGE and UP-SAPO Labs, to measure opinions “polarity” about politicians during elections.

- Participation in the “Summer in Project” Program with the activity "Entertaining and Educational Robotics".

- Intelligent Wheelchair demonstration at the National Congress for Inclusion.

- Report for TV series “Engineering in 1 minute” .

- Responsibility for action “Learning Robotics using LEGO”, under “Ciência Viva” programme for young people’s scientific activities in holidays.

General Indicators
  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Total
No. of Researchers Hired (Ciência Programme) 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
No. of Researchers integrated with PhD 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 20,00
Training PhDs (PhD thesis completed) 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 6,00 6,00
Researchers Hired
Name Start Date End Date Other Institution
No researchers found...
Technical Personnel Hired
Name Start Date End Date Other Institution
No technical personnel found...
Additional Comments
Research Groups
Reference Title / Principal Investigator
RG-Norte-27-1966 Distributed AI and Robotics Group
(Eugenio da Costa Oliveira)
RG-Norte-27-3680 Computer Science Group
(António Beça Gonçalves Porto)
Strategic Project Adjustments
We stick to the established plan!