Tuesday March 27, 2012
9:00 - 10:40AM


Professor Letizia Tanca
Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione
Politecnico di Milano
Piazza Leonardo Da Vinci 32
20133 Milano, ITALY





Context-aware system design: a data-oriented perspective


As more data, and the knowledge deriving from it, become available to a growing multitude of people, the ways to access it become more diverse because they must be adapted, on one front, to the kind of data, and on the other front to the prospective users.

In particular, the availability of very small, cheap, and low power devices coupled with the advances in wireless networking have made it possible to relieve people of a cumbersome interaction with passive tools, by embedding the processing power in the environment and making it proactive with respect to the user (i.e. anticipating, in an autonomous way, the user's needs). Therefore on the first front above we see independent, heterogeneous, distributed, sometimes transient and mobile devices produce an enormous amount of information and services that should be made available in a seamless and comprehensible fashion; on the second front, along with the user characteristics, as both the users and the devices can be mobile, data and service management functionalities must take into account time, location and physical environment parameters, to provide users and applications with the knowledge and services that are most appropriate to their current context.

After briefly describing the most recent advances on context-awareness and personalization, discussing historical views on context and context-awareness and illustrating fundamental principles which, already introduced in Artificial Intelligence some time ago, are made applicable and interesting by the possibilities of current technologies, in this talk I propose a foundational framework for the lifecycle of context-aware systems, where the system design and management activities consider context as an orthogonal, first-class citizen.

I report the work of the PEDiGREE group (PErvasiveDatabaseGRoup of EnginEers) at Politecnico di Milano and concentrate on Information Management, where context-aware systems are mainly devoted to determining which information is relevant with respect to the ambient conditions. A short account of the research of the PEDiGREE group on personalization can be found in the paper: "Context Modeling and Context Awareness: steps forward in the Context-ADDICT project", co-authored with C. Bolchini, G. Orsi, E. Quintarelli and F. A. Schreiber and published in the IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin 34(2) of 2011.


Dr. Letizia Tanca is a full professor at the Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione of Politecnico di Milano, where she has chaired the degree and master courses in Computer Science and Engineering at the Leonardo campus from 2000 to 2006, and currently chairs the Computer Science and Engineering Section of her department. She has taught and teaches courses on Databases, the Foundations of Computer Science, and Information Systems Technologies. She is author of about 150 papers on databases and database theory, published in international journals and conferences, and of the book "Logic Programming and Databases''. Recently she co-edited the book "Semantic Web Information Management" for Springer Verlag. Letizia Tanca's research interests have ranged over all database theory, especially on deductive, active and object oriented databases, graph-based languages for databases, the semantics of advanced database and information systems, representation and querying of semi-structured information. Her recent research interests concern context-aware database design and data management for mobile and pervasive systems. She has taken part, often as the local leader, in several national and international projects: particularly relevant w.r.t. her recent research interests are the ERC Project SMS-com (Self-Managing, Situation-aware Computation), the IT project Odyssey, and the Italian projects MAIS, ESTEEM, ART-DECO, SENSORI and Green Move. Letizia Tanca acts regularly as a referee of top international journals of her research area, and is systematically involved in the program committees of international conferences, has been a guest co-editor of the spring 2010 number of the TPLP journal (Theory and Practice of Logic Programming) and is currently co-editing a special number of the Information Systems journal. On the research on context-awareness and personalization, Letizia has been recurrently invited as a guest speaker in international conferences and workshops. She has been her department's representative in, and a Board member of, the Informatics Europe Association (http://www.informatics-europe.org/) from its foundation to the end of 2011. She has been the conference Chair of the ECSS (European Computer science Summit) 2011 (http://www.ecss2011.polimi.it/).


Thursday March 29, 2012
9:00 - 10:40AM

  Professor Anthony Finkelstein
University College London
Department of Computer Science
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom


Title: Advice to a Friend


It is the duty of an engineer to sound a warning when we see somebody blithely undertaking a highly complex, large-scale project disregarding the most obvious steps which are necessary to assure success or, at any rate, avoid costly failures. In this case it is the biomedical and life sciences which are being called to attention. The scientific programme they have embarked on is to computationally model the human physiome from genes to physiological processes, by way of cells, metabolic and organ systems. This programme is scientifically an immensely challenging one. It is not however the towering scale of the science challenge that concerns me but rather the absence of an engineering perspective. If I am to characterise existing efforts in this space they could best be described as 'hacking': low-level, ad-hoc and impossible to build on. I am 'up' for the challenge and do not suggest that it is (from an engineering standpoint, I cannot speak for the science) beyond achievability. What I ask is that we build the proper engineering foundations first. I invite the biomedical and life sciences communities to attend to these engineering foundations or risk the larger scientific programme going awry.


Dr. Anthony Finkelstein is Professor of Software Systems Engineering at University College London (UCL) where he works in the broad field of software systems engineering. He is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College and at the National Institute for Informatics, Tokyo, Japan. At UCL he is Dean of UCL Engineering. He has published more than 230 scientific papers and secured more than £22m of research funding. He is a Fellow of both the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Computer Society. He has served on numerous editorial boards including that of ACM TOSEM and IEEE TSE, and was founder editor of Automated Software Engineering. He has also chaired numerous international meetings and was a General Chair of the International Conference on Software Engineering. He serves on the UK Research Excellence Framework panel for Computer Science and Informatics and was a member of the Committee of Visitors for the US National Science Foundation. He has provided consultancy advice to a very large number of high profile companies. He was Founder of Systemwire Ltd., a UCL spinout acquired by trade sale and is a Director and consultant Chief Scientist of Message Automation Ltd. He is also a Founder Director of satalia, a UCL spinout.