General Information
Name of Research Unit: (EEI-Norte-27)
Coordinator: Miguel Caetano de Oliveira Filgueiras
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

The Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science (LIACC) at the University of Porto started in 1988 with 5 researchers holding a PhD. End of 2010, (in fact beginning of 2011 after retirement of CS leaders) this number is now 19 (plus 20 other members) included in two research groups (Computer Science-CS, and Distributed Artificial Intelligence & Robotics-DAI&R) mainly residing in the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering. The Computer Science group has been trying reorganization since 2009 and, due to retirement of its leaders lost several researchers. The DAI&R group has increased its coherence and number of PhDs.

Management of LIACC is done according to the FCT Multi-year Funding Program rules, through a Coordinating Board, a Scientific Council and an external Advisory Board. The Coordinating Board is composed by senior researchers, one of which is the LIACC Coordinator. 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 2010 the following researchers were in charge of LIACC:

- LIACC Coordinator: Miguel Filgueiras (untill end 2010).

- LIACC Coordinating Board: Eugénio Oliveira, Miguel Filgueiras (untill end 2010), Luís Damas (retired 2010), António Porto, Francisco Restivo, Luís Paulo Reis,

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

LIACC team updating on 31 December 2010, gave the following numbers: a total of 39 integrated members: 17 holding a PhD, plus 2 PhDs at 50% and 20 holding a MSc degree or "Licenciatura" degree. None of the researchers holding a PhD was doing research full-time, contrary to some of the other researchers. They are also heavily involved in lecturing (between 8 and 12 hours per week).

Distributed AI & R, mainly located at the Faculty of Engineering has, during 2010 tried to enhance its connection with society, through protocols with companies to support research as well as working towards prototype implementation as relevant proof of concepts. CS, the Faculty of Sciences group, is more devoted, though not exclusively, to theoretical research. Both groups are also involved in post-graduation supervision.

General Objectives

LIACC aims at helping to solve the following general problems:

- Distributed, Dynamic and Decentralized (DDD) problems

We aim at addressing classes of problems that are inherently of a Distributed, Dynamic and Decentralized nature as those which occur when different and heterogeneous entities/partners need to inter-operate over a computer network. To deal with this kind of organizational problems, Electronic Institutions assume a relevant role by providing services like negotiation mediation, ontology mapping, contract drafting, monitoring and enforcement, as well as evaluation of trust and reputation indicators for consortia and Virtual Organizations\Enterprises life-cycle automatic assistance. Also, the Traffic management domain, both in terrestrial and aerial environments can be seen as DDD problems. Both at individual level and group level activities, these problems are better addressed through Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) paradigm. However improvements are required both on the theoretical and practical aspects, in order to achieve better interoperability, decision making, agents and team coordination. Approaches to this include the use of Negotiation and Adaptation capabilities, defining Normative environments, advanced cognitive architectures for agents and agent-based simulation platforms. Selected application domains for Multi-agent Systems are Electronic Institutions for B2B, agents' team coordination strategies, Intelligent Text Mining, air lines operations' disruption management,, analysis and interpretation of biological data and ontology developments.

- Software Reliability

Reliable software is still the main challenge in computer science; software engineering approaches failed in general; formal approaches based on logic specifications and theorem proving have trouble handling real programs with a loose specification; unit tests improve the reliability of parts of the program but fail to guarantee reliability of the whole; design by contract approaches (e.g. ruby, spec-#) combined with type inference can improve reliability but do not guarantee correctness; maybe a combination of different approaches should be used.

- Security

Security of software and of communication is currently a major concern. Public key cryptography techniques are based on the computational intractability of the associated code breaking problem. However this is normally judged on worst case complexity and better measures of security are needed. One possible approach is the use of time bounded versions of Kolmogorov complexity. Another problem arises from the need to execute foreign code that may open the door to attacks. One solution is to force foreign code to include a proof that it will not break security. This however requires support for the development of proofs of program properties.

- Information processing reliability

Representation of information is a major problem of computer science. Coherence and reliability of information is still almost completely left to programmers; e.g. information migration between representations is done without enforcing any kind of reversibility and can lead to loss of information; standards like XML ignore this kind of problem. There is a strong need for models (e.g. like reversible languages) and tools to achieve reliability in information processing.

LIACC aims at developing research further through prototypes and publications as well as to assist young researchers to develop their thesis work.

Main Achievements during the year of 2010

LIACC efforts during the year 2010 have been directed towards both the scientific and the non-academic community.

A sign of our progressive influence on the non-academic environment is the number (and quality) of contacts with organizations and companies, including: Schneider Electric GmbH, Microsoft, SAPO-Portugal Telecom, SISCOG, SQIMI, BRISA, NDRIVE and TAP airlines.

Concerning the recognition by our scientific peers, we were involved in 15 International Journal Editorial Boards, the organization of 13 Conferences and Workshops, and more than 33 Program Committees.

We have successfully submitted 18 articles in peer reviewed international journals and 80 other papers of international reach, with a total of 44 already indexed by ISI.

Thesis supervision activity led to the successful submission of 6 Ph.D.s and 29 M.Sc.

The number of research projects was increased, leading to a more substantial funding (from 154.174,00 to 422.047,36 Eur).

In terms of more concrete outcomes we have developed 18 prototypes, one already patented, and several deployed in industrial environments. Below we highlight some specific developments, from the more abstract to the more applied:

- A novel type system was defined for an extension of the linear lambda calculus with iterators, allowing a new efficient form of polymorphism in iterators.

- Several new algorithms and methods were develop in the areas of automata, regular expressions and geometric problems.

- We developed and tested a software generic framework for controlling different robots in several cooperative robotic tasks, including robotic soccer, as well as a complete “setplay” framework.

- Compass, a sophisticated software architecture for building information systems based on declarative principles, has reached the point where deployment of real applications has become possible.

- A tool was prototyped that allows mode-checking of ADA/SPARK programs against timing properties.

- Our approach to the Electronic Institution is becoming more accepted by the research community and closer to a possible instantiation for real domains.

- Work on flexible control for manufacturing systems was published in International scientific journals, and in international top-ranked conferences. Moreover P. Leitão is now chairing the IEEE IES Technical Committee on Industrial Agents.

- We further developed bioinformatics methods and strategies based on AI for the analysis and interpretation of biological data characterizing the metabolism and immune system.

- Text Mining research led to the deployment of a product (VOXX), by Portugal Telecom- SAPO company based on our Verbatim quotations extraction system.

- An Online Emotion Classifier for a Biometric Multichannel HW inclusion, detecting user emotions when immersed in a simulated 3D Immersive Environment, led to the BioStories' Vertical Prototype.

- A new prototype of an intelligent wheelchair including a very flexible multi-modal interface has been developed and tested and is now available.

- Third place was achieved in the RoboCup European championship (German Open) both in the Simulated 2D and Simulated 3D leagues.


Integrative/multidisciplinary activities during the year of 2010

Many of our R&D activities were of a multidisciplinary collaborative nature. Here we highlight the main such collaborations grouped by application domain.

- Transportation

* [Terrestrial Transports] Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, UK

* [Traffic management] projects and spinoff activities involving GERTRUDE, NDRIVE, BRISA, IMTT, Geolink, SOLTRÁFEGO, TRENMO, CMP and Radiotaxi

- Linguistics

* [Text information extraction and retrieval] Google Labs, SAPO.

- Health care

* [spine 3D reconstruction methods] Politéchnique Montreal and National Research Council of Canada, S.João Hospital.

* [Access and discovery of clinical data] 2 hospitals (C. Hospitalar V.N. Gaia, Hospital G. Santo António) and other partners (F.Sciences/UP, F.Medicine/UL, INEB/UP, IEETA/UA)

* [Intelligent Wheelchair] APPC (Society of Cerebral Paralysis), ESTSP/IPP (Health and Technology School) and IEETA, Univ. Aveiro

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

- Economics

* [B2B trust and reputation based negotiation] LIADD/INESC-Porto, LANIDOR.

- Environment

* [Environmental systems, Agent-based simulation] CIAGEB at University Fernando Pessoa.

- Sports

* [collective sports] Centre of Research, Education Innovation and Intervention in Sport - UP

- Other

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

* [educational software development] CIDTFF – Univ. Aveiro

A number of collaborative actions involve both academia and industry, including co-authoring of project proposals, sponsorship of projects and theses, co-supervision and co-organisation of scientific events. The following people and institutions were involved:

Work on Information extraction in collaboration with InescPorto (F. Gouyon), Faculty of Sciences-U. of Lisbon. (M. J. Silva and P. Carvalho), Centro de Linguística da U. do Porto (B. Maia) and Centre for Forensic Linguistics, Aston U. (T. Grant, R. Sousa-Silva).

Joint PhD thesis supervision on Multi-agent systems for shop-floor control with Schneider Electric Automation GmbH, Germany.

Work on MasT2er Lab lead to joint activities with Orëbro U., Sweden (F. Klügl); U. of Milano-Bicocca (G. Vizzari); Institute for Transport Studies, U. of Leeds (R. Liu); Edinbugh Napier U. (S. Aguiar, K. Stewart); Rey Juan Carlos U., Spain (S. Ossowski, A. Fernandez, and M. Vasirani); U. F. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (A. Bazzan, H. Cybis, and R. Silva); Lab. de Engenharia Civil – LNEC (E. Arsénio and A. Leça Coelho); TRENMO Engenharia SA, Portugal (A. Costa and O. Santos).

Work on MASDIMA using Brahms platform in collaboration with NASA-AMES. Data supplied by TAP Airlines.

Work with CIAGEB- “Global Change, Energy, Environment and Bioengineering” RDID&D Unit at U. Fernando Pessoa for the EcoSimNet.

Cooperation with the Sports School, at the U. of Porto

Collaboration with C. Hospitalar V. N. Gaia, Hospital G. Santo António SA, FC/UP, FM/UL, INEB/UP, IEETA/UA for Grid-Enabled clinical data Repositories in medical applications (medical images and clinical reports). Methodologies to Analyze Organs from Complex Medical Images - Applications to Female Pelvic Cavity.

Collaboration with Politéchinque Montreal, National Research Council of Canada. focusing on 3D reconstruction methods of the spine. Validation with the clinical team of Hospital St. Justine, Montreal, Canada.

Outreach activities during the year of 2010

Collaborations with Industry :

- Former “Verbatim” prototype has been released as a product called VOXX by PT related enterprise (SAPO) at Codebits 2010 annual meeting. Classification of news, based on Machine Learning algorithms, identification of Named Entities and the development of techniques to automatically annotated text corpora have been developed. Our work, in collaboration with others (INESC, DEI), lead to the establishment of UP-SAPO Labs in our Faculty in close association with LIACC which got a number of scholarships for students. (L.Sarmento, J.Teixeira, E.Oliveira)

- Joint work with SISCOG company using TAP realistic data for Disruption management systems (A.Castro, E.Oliveira)

- COMPASS system is being developed in collaboration with SQIMI, a software startup company (A.Porto)

General society impact :

- GPSMan, is distributed and used world-wide with several collaborators abroad (M.Filgueiras)

- Work on BioStories was extensively announced through:

Video Report\Interview for “Exame Informática” TV – Sic Notícias – Series III, Ep 7;

(available at http://aeiou.exameinformatica.pt/ei-tv-7-iii-sony-vaio-lg-pop-e-a-biostories= f1005731);

Video Report\Interview for “Exame Informática” TV – Web (available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM0gOxQ9RpE);

Interview in Journal “Exame Informática” nr 178 April 2010 - pp 84-85; (available @ http://aeiou.exameinformatica.pt/investigadores-portuenses-criam-aplicacao-que-capta-estados-de-espirito-video=f1005359);

- Radio Interview for TSF – Mundo Digital. (E.Oliveira)

- Radio Interview for TSF – Mundo Digital. (L.Sarmento)

- Interview about LIACC in Boletim Informativo FEUP. In BI FEUP Nr 45, pp 14-15, March 2010 available @ http://paginas.fe.up.pt/~jft/Publicacoes/BI2010.pdf (E.Oliveira)

School outreach efforts :

- LIACC demos were presented to large number of high-school students at the University of Porto « show days « (Mostra UP).

- LIACC groups presentations to high-school students at the « Open Days » of both FEUP and FCUP, where LIACC groups reside.


General Indicators
  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
No. of Researchers Proposed 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
No. of Researchers Hired (LA) 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
Balance 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
No. of Researchers Hired (Ciência Programme) 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
No. of Researchers integrated with PhD 39,00 21,00 23,00 23,00 19,00
Training Masters (Master thesis completed) 26,00 11,00 43,00 39,00 0,00 119,00
Training PhDs (PhD thesis completed) 6,00 3,00 0,00 2,00 6,00 17,00
Additional Comments

Additional Comments

A considerable effort in PhD thesis preparation has been done in the reported 1 year period.

Besides those that have already finished their PhD in 2010 (5), at least 7 more PhD thesis submissions are expected to happen in 2011.

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)