Past research projects

SMILE-IT: Stable Multi-agent learning for networks (01/2015 to 12/2018)

Agent-driven networks, consisting of many collaborating and competing (human and machine) agents, can be found in a wide range of problem areas, such as telecommu- nications, smart grids, smart cities, traffic guidance, and flight control. As the complexity and size of these networks increases, automated techniques for configuring, guiding, and managing them become increasingly important, in order to limit operational costs and guarantee optimality. The SMILE-IT project aims to develop such an automated network management framework, based on multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) techniques.

Foundations of programming models for next-generation computing platforms (01/2014 to 12/2018)

This strategic research plan has the goal to focus on fundamental research topics to improve the scientific output of the Software Languages Lab. A large part of the research conducted at the Software Languages Lab can be divided over three domains: Ambient Oriented Programming, Parallel Programming and Cloud Computing. The research project aims to simultaneously improve the research in these three domains based on the high degree of congruency between them.  Concretely, this proposal will focus on three fundamental questions that apply over the three domains. First, how to harness concurrency and orchestrate the interaction between a large number of computations. Second, how to control the data distribution between a large number of concurrently executing processes. Finally, how to development formally grounded tools to assist the programmer to detect and fix bugs early on in the development process. In order to successfully answer these questions formal methods such as type systems, contracts, symbolic execution and model verification will be applied.

MetaConc (Towards Meta-Level Engineering and Tooling for Complex Concurrent Systems) (01/2016 to 12/2018)

MetaConc is a FWO joint project in collaboration with the Institute for System Software at the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (JKU) in Austria. It aims to explore language support that captures the interaction amongst concurrency models in order to deliver the concepts needed to support tools. In particular, we investigate both language implementation support to capture essential properties of concurrency models (research led by JKU's group), and debugging support built on top of such substrate to assist developers in finding errors, and improving program comprehension of complex concurrent systems (research led by SOFT ).

SeCloud (09/2015 to 08/2018)

Confidentiality and integrity of data is paramount to applications that are hosted in the cloud and to applications that interact with other cloud services. The SeCLoud project therefore investigates a security-first and holistic approach to engineering such cloud- based applications. To this end, its 11 academic partners cover security from the complementary perspectives of secure architecture (e.g., patterns), secure infrastructure (e.g., encryption), secure programming technology (e.g., vulnerability checking) and secure processes (e.g., requirements engineering and legal aspects). VUB-SOFT leads the secure programming technology perspective, to which we bring our expertise in dynamic and static analysis of JavaScript programs. 

SPICES: 'Scalable processing and mining of complex events for security-analytics'. (02/2015 to 01/2018)

The overall goal of SPICES is to design an open reusable platform specifically targeted towards security process monitoring, based on the notion of complex event processing (CEP). Within SOFT we envision (1) the design of a reactive CEP security language (2) The design of a change language which identifies new threats and attacks while the system is running; and (3) the implementation of a multi-pattern optimizer on top of a scalable (i.e. multicore), distributed (i.e. cloud) execution platform to manage the processing of a vast amount of events.

Cart-ASUR (01/2012 to 12/2016)

The purpose of the CartASUR (Représentations Cartographiques de la qualité des Ambiances Sonores Urbaines: acceptabilité des Cartes) research project in which SOFT is a subcontractor is to develop a tool capable of creating sound maps representing the urban soundscape at different spatial scales of the city (such as major roads and neighborhoods) as well as different time scales (such as a time period within a year or the time of day). This tool can help policy makers to enrich noise levels with perceptual and geographic indicators. Hence, soundscapes in urban public space are enriched with sense of pleasure/discomfort perceived by its citizens. Noise level indicators are currently defined on a yearly and national scale and do not incorporate citizen perception. We hypothesise that noise level indicators can be constructed from perceived data (citizen-supplied data transmitted via their mobile phone), from acoustic data (measurements taken of the changing sound level over time), and from other georeferenced data (collected from local authorities). The aggregated data will allow policy makers to better take into account the effect of noise on the quality of life. Additionally, this tool can be used by citizens to govern their own city. 

Cha-Q: Change-centric Quality Assurance (01/2013 to 12/2016)

The constant need for change in software drives the manner in which modern software is developed, as evidenced by the trend towards iterative and agile development processes. Automated testing approaches, bug trackers and static analyses still start from the fundamental assumption that they act upon a single, complete release of the system. As a result, there exists a remarkable disparity between the trend towards embracing change and the tools used by today’s software engineers. The main objective of the Cha-Q (Change-centric Quality Assurance) project is therefore to devise innovative tools that enable change-centric software development.

GRAVE: Gradual verification of event-driven programs (01/2013 to 12/2016)

Gradual Verification of Event-driven: More and more, computer applications need to deal with multiple input streams and utilize distributed hardware, to access an ever growing range of consumer and business services in the cloud and in corporate networks. The development of such programs is encumbered by concurrency pitfalls such as race conditions and deadlocks, and distribution hazards such as connection failures and the lack of a single coordinating entity. In this project, we investigate these challenges and develop reasoning principles and tooling strategies to address them.

AIRCO – Actieve Interfaces voor Robuste Software Compositie (01/2012 to 12/2015)

CT solutions are composed of multiple services and components that are independently developed and deployed on remote service platforms and, therefore, also indepen- dently evolve. To support improved modularization and customization of such composed appli- cations, this project proposes to establish a coherent AOSD-based invasive composition approach in which the fundamental problems of aspect interference and fragility are treated, and in which dynamic metadata plays a central role in dealing with software evolution issues.

Exascience Life (01/2013 to 12/2015)

ExaScience Life is a large interdisciplinary IWT project, set up as a collaboration between the five Flemish universities and two industrial partners: Intel and Janssen Pharmaceutica. The broad topic of ExaScience Life is to explore scientific applications for the next generation of supercomputers. Today, we are building peta-FLOP scale supercomputers, for the next decade we are expecting exascale. Such massive increase in processing power unlocks new types of scientific applications, exascale computing is therefor seen as a new driving force for scientific discoveries.

COGNAC: Coordination and Ownership in Graphs Networked Actors (01/2011 to 12/2015)

The aim of the COGNAC project is to build upon a formal actor-based concurrency model to provide gradual type system support that statically and dynamically reifies the ownership and location information present in remote object designation concepts. This offers coordination abstractions, such as ambient contracts, that simplifies the programmers task of developing and securing applications for devices that cooperate over intermittent network connections.

i-SCOPE: Interoperable Smart City services through an Open Platform for urban Ecosystems (01/2012 to 07/2015)

The latest generation of 3D Urban Information Models (UIM), created from accurate urban-scale geospatial information, can be used to create smart web services based on geometric, semantic, morphological and structural information at urban scale level, which can be used by local governments to: - improve decision-making on issues related to urban planning, city management, environmental protection and energy consumption based on urban pattern and its morphology; - promote inclusion among various users groups (e.g. elder or diversely able citizens) through services which account for barriers at city level; - involve citizens at wider scale by collecting geo-referenced information based on location based services at urban scale. 

MOSCOU - MObile Simple COUping (01/2014 to 12/2014)

MOSCOU ( Mobile Simple COUponing ) with Monizze was funded by Innoviris. This feasibility study had the goal of investigating the viability of developing a new way of creating, distributing and redeeming “electronic” coupons. This is like the paper coupons that one sometimes finds in supermarket's magazines, newspapers or on a product itself, but integrated in a software-based virtual wallet running on the user’s smartphone. Digital coupons are implemented at a technical level by a smart object representing rich kinds of information. For example, a digital coupon has graphical information, usage restrictions (e.g. only valid in certain shops), and may depend on specific combinations of articles or other coupons. 

MobiCraNT – Second Generation Mobile Cross-media Applications – Scalability, Heterogeneity (02/2011 to 01/2014)

This project aims to explore software engineering principles and pat- terns for the next generation of mobile applications, which run on smartphones featuring various sensors, RFID-readers and GPS-chips, blurring the distinction between clients and servers of in- formation and thus inducing fluid information spaces. On the other hand, we see the rise of new interface modalities such as voice interaction, digital pen and paper, gestures and so on. The goal of MobiCraNT is to come up with a multi-paradigm distributed software development model and in- novative information concepts for the representation of open and fluid cross-media documents to be used by the multimodal interaction that will be part of the second generation of mobile cross-media applications.

Urban area datastructuren ter ondersteuning van stadsapplicaties in mobiele nomadische netwerken (01/2010 to 12/2013)

Many allergies, cancers and auto-immune diseases are cause by a complex interaction between different genes, proteines and environmental factors. An important goal of this project is applying and developing techniques and insights from other domains and complex systems, in particular to find clues for personalised drugs for allergies and multiple scleroses. Language and the evolution of language are examples of those complex systems where different interacting networks, like co-occurence, semantic and syntactic networks contribute to the wider research domain.