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. In 2009 this number has increased to 23 and there were two research groups (Computer Science, and Distributed Artificial Intelligence and Robotics) mainly residing in the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering. The Computer Science group resulted from three previous smaller research groups (Advanced Programming Systems, Formal Models of Computation, Complexity and Cryptography) in a reorganization done during 2009, approved by FCT. This report assumes that this group was active since January 2009.

The 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, and the other researchers are usually elected among the heads of the research groups. 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 whose members are invited among internationally recognized outstanding experts. Until December 2009 the following researchers were in charge:

- LIACC Coordinator: Eugénio Oliveira

- LIACC Coordinating Board: Eugénio Oliveira, Miguel Filgueiras, Luís Damas, Armando Matos, Ana Paula Tomás, Luís Paulo Reis

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

LIACC team actualization on 31 December 2009, gave the following numbers: a total of 49 integrated members: 23 holding a PhD, 15 holding a MSc degree and the remaining 11 having completed undergraduate studies. None of the PhDs was doing research full-time, contrary to some of the other researchers.

General Objectives

LIACC aims at helping to solve the following general problems:

- 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.

- 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 and Emotion-like 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 and ontology developments

- 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.

Main Achievements during the year of 2009

A sign of our progressive influence on the non-academic environment is the number (and quality) of contacts with organizations and companies, including

GERTRUDE, Microsoft, Schneider Electric GmbH, BRISA, NDRIVE, Portugal Telecom, SISCOG, and TAP airlines.

Concerning the recognition by our scientific peers, we were involved in 9 Editorial Boards, the organization of 12 Conferences and Workshops, and more

than 50 Program Committees.

We published 13 articles in peer review journals and 80 others having international range, with a total of 41 already indexed by ISI.

The thesis supervision activity led to the completion of 2 Ph.D.s and 39 M.Sc.s.

In terms of concrete outcomes we have reached 20 prototypes, one being registered, another used world-wide, and several deployed in industrial environments.

Below we highlight some specific developments, from the more abstract to the more applied:

- On the theoretical side there were several interesting achievements, namely a new linear version of Gödel's system T with the same expressive

power as T, faster methods for testing regular language equivalence, and a new algorithm for finding points near a polyline.

- A new high-level approach to database interaction has been implemented and will be a cornerstone of a future platform for declarative information

system development.

- A recent line of research on Text Mining led to new promising realizations, both in the scientific and industrial fields (agreement with Portugal


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

- Work on flexible control for manufacturing systems was published in international scientific journals (3 articles), and in international top-ranked

conferences (8 papers). Moreover, one European Project was approved (EU-FP7) and P. Leitão is now chairing the IEEE IES Technical Committee on Industrial


- A book was published about MAS proposal for dealing with the Disruption Management.

- 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.

- The Verbatim quotations extraction system was publicly deployed, in partnership with Sapo.pt/Portugal Telecom (http://verbatim.labs.sapo.pt).

- 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.

- The DIVERT traffic simulator raised ever greater interest from academia and industry, leading to many application projects, e.g. for virtual traffic

lights systems and in testing an industrial traffic control system (GERTRUDE).

- A new prototype of an intelligent wheelchair including a planning module is now available.


Integrative/multidisciplinary activities during the year of 2009

Many of our research and development 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

- Health care

* [spine 3D reconstruction methods] Politéchnique Montreal and National Research Council of Canada

* [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)

* [National Functional Brain Imaging Network] a consortium of four Portuguese universities (Aveiro, Coimbra, Minho and Porto)

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

- Economics

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

- Environment

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

- Sports

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

- Other

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

* [educacional software development] CIDTFF – Univ. Aveiro

Outreach activities during the year of 2009


- Interview and LIACC presentation. Video by UPMEDIA Conteúdos Multimédia, Lda. (E.Oliveira).

- Piece on the News at TV channel "RTP1" about “Dancing Robot” (L.P.Reis, J.L.Oliveira).

- Pieces on TV channel "RTPInternational" about “Robotics” (L.P.Reis).

- Interview to TV channel "SIC" and TV channel "Porto Canal" on “Dancing Robot” (J.L.Oliveira).

- Interviews to “Jornalismo Porto Net” and “ACCES Industrie e-Magazine“ about “Robotics” (L.P.Reis).

- Articles at “Exame Informática” about project “ABSES – ABS of Ecological Systems” (L.P.Reis, A.Pereira) and about “Robotics in Portugal” (L.P.Reis, R.Braga, J.L.Oliveira).

- Article at “Super Interessante” about “Dancing Robots” (L.P.Reis, J.L.Oliveira).

- Articles about “Dancing Robots” at Newspapers: Sol, Jornal de Notícias, Primeiro de Janeiro, Público, Correio da Manhã, Destak, Expresso Online, Diário Digital, Mundo Universitário, among others (L.P.Reis, J.L.Oliveira).

- Articles about “Dancing Robots” at sciencedaily.com, lusa.pt, Ciência.pt (L.P.Reis, J.L.Oliveira).

- Article in Jornal de Notícias on “controling the computer with the eyes” (V.Vinhas).

- Interview for the TSF Broadcasting radio station. “VERBATIM” (L. Sarmento)..

- References to Verbatim and Sylvester, LIACC projects presented in SAPO Codebits, D.Notícias (L.Sarmento)

Industrial contacts/cooperation:

- Critical Software: software testing

- GERTRUDE (France): traffic control systems

- NDRIVE: GPS navigation systems

- BRISA: highways building and management

- Instituto da Mobilidade e Transportes Terrestres: Portuguese traffic authority

- Raditaxi: taxi operator in Porto

- Imometrica: real-estate evaluation company

- Geolink: traffic simulation and spNatial databases

- Parque Natural da Ria Formosa: simulation of ecologic activities

- APPC: Intelligent Wheelchair, under development

General Public and Schools:

- Member of Univ. Porto Strategic Group, “Grupo de Concertação Estratégica da UP”

- An application built on the top of Verbatim was awarded the 3rd prize in the 2009 CodeBits contest (http://codebits.eu/) sponsored by Portugal Telecom

- Participation at the Technology Roadmap meeting, collocated with Innovation Days, promoted by “Agência de Inovação (AdI)” - FIL (Lisbon), Projects "Electronic Institution Platform for B2B Contracting" and “Online User Emotion Classifier”

- Program “Learning Robotics using LEGO”, implemented under the programme “Ocupação Científica de Jovens nas Férias” of the Ciência Viva program, at I.P.Bragança

- “Engineer Week”, FEUP, sessions “Artificial Intelligence Applications” and “Robotics Applications”, invited talk “Robotic Soccer at FEUP”

- Demonstrations about “Robotics” at MIEIC stand at “Mostra da UP”

- Talks and Demos about Robotics for high school students of more than 20 schools, at FEUP and at specific schools

- “Pular a Cerca II: Palestras Divertidas”. Social activity jointly sponsored by Agr. Escolas do Cerco, A.P.Paralisia Cerebral (APPC), J.Freguesia Campanhã, and Univ. Porto, to promote creativity, knowledge pursuit, and curiosity into students of public schools in the suburban areas of Porto

- Technology Roadmap in the scope of Innovation Days, at FIL-EXPO. Organized by “Agência de Inovação” together with Enterprise Europe Network

  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
LA FCT 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
Units FCT 0,00 0,00 0,00 110.463,00 85.224,00
Projects FCT 0,00 0,00 0,00 180.661,00 55.950,00
Other (National) 0,00 0,00 0,00 9.940,00 13.000,00
Other (International) 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
National Industry 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
International Industry 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00 0,00
  0,00 0,00 0,00 301.064,00 154.174,00
General Indicators
  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 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 (FTE) 37,00 39,00 21,00 23,00 23,00
Training Masters (Master thesis completed) 22,00 26,00 11,00 43,00 39,00 141,00
Training PhDs (PhD thesis completed) 2,00 6,00 3,00 0,00 2,00 13,00
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)