UNITA' DI GENOVA

UNIVERSITA’ DEGLI STUDI DI GENOVA

Dipartimento di ingegneria navale,elettrica, elettronica e delle telecomunicazioni

 
Research topics 

1.         TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING, SERIOUS GAMES AND SIMULATIONS

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

Collaborations: Philips Lab, Technical University of Eindhoven, Aalto University, CNR Imati e ITD, Insead Cedep, Univ. Complutense Madrid, Esade, Insec-id, Univ. of Coventry, ATOS, Serious Games Interactive, Playgen, Biba, Univ. Nottingham, Hariot-Watt University, Univ. West Scotland, Univ. Tulouse, Fraunhofer, ORT, Czech TV, Port of Genoa

 

2.         VEHICULAR COMMUNICATION, TRAFFIC AND DRIVER INFROMATION MANAGEMENT, AND HUMAN MACHINE INTERACTION

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

Collaborations: Centro Ricerche FIAT, BMW, Fraunhofer, VTT, Telecom Italia, Aitek, Elsag-Datamat.

 

3.         NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL MEAUREMENTS

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

 

4.         TACTILE SENSING SYSTEMS

M. Valle, D. Caviglia, P. Gastaldo

Collaborations: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (ITT), Fondazione Bruno Kessler IRST-ITC (TN), Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Università di Cagliari, Università di Padova, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (CH), University of Hertfordshire (UK), University of Wales Newport (UK), CNR - IMM

 

5.         BEHAVIORAL MODELS OF MIXED-MODE CIRCUITS ANS SYSTEMS

M. Valle

Collaborations: On Semiconductor, Virtual Vehicle Competence Center (ViF), TU Gratz (Austria).


 
6.         MACHINE LEARNING AND COMPUTATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FOR SMART DEVICES AND SYSTEMS

D. Anguita

Collaborations: Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC - Spain); Queen Mary University of London (QMUL – UK)

 
 
7.         ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS FOR SECURITY AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

P. Gastaldo, R. Zunino

Collaborations: OGS Trieste, WASS SpA, nShield EU Project (ARTEMIS), Selex-Elsag SpA, Ansaldo STS SpA

 

8.         INTELLIGENT ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS FOR SENSING AND COMPLEX DOMAIN PROCESSING

P. Gastaldo, R. Zunino

Collaborations: Selex-Elsag SpA, Ansaldo STS SpA

 

9.         MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS FOR IMPARED USERS

F. Curatelli

Collaborations: di Università di Genova - DIMA (Ricercatori: Chiara Martinengo)

 

10.     NONLINEAR INTEGRATED PHOTONIC DEVICES FOR OPTICAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

D.D. Caviglia, E. Di Zitti

Collaborations: Laboratorio Nazionale di Reti Fotoniche del CNIT, Pisa; Istituto di Fotonica e Nanotecnologie (IFN), Roma; Laboratorio universitario di materiali e microsistemi Chilab di Chivasso (sede decentrata del Politecnico di Torino)

 

11.     NANOTECHNOLOGY: CARBON NANOMATERIALS FOR ELECTRONICS

E. Di Zitti

Collaborations: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Genova; Istituto superconduttori, materiali innovativi e dispositivi (SPIN), CNR, Genova ; NTRC Nanotechnology Research Centre, Birla College, Kalyan, India

 

12.     DIGITAL SYSTEMS SIMULATORS FOR EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS

G. Donzellini, D. Ponta

 


TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING, SERIOUS GAMES AND SIMULATIONS

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

ELIOS Lab has started coordinating Games and Learning Alliance (GaLA), the EU network of excellence on serious games within the technology-enhanced learning umbrella.

ELIOS’ serious games (SGs) are based on state of the art Game Engine technology (Unity and Torque) upgraded with custom modules that we consider key in order to deliver a proper Serious Gaming (or simulation-based training) experience to the user. These modules include: an Event Generator that sequences events in the game in order to spur the player’s training in activities best suited to his profile; Virtual characters that have knowledge about specific items. The player can interact in natural language with them to get information about game/simulation topics; MicroGames (MGs): simple, short 2D games that focus the player’s attention on a particular item that she may find during exploration of the 3D Virtual World. Social interaction among players is supported via geographic proximity criteria. In particular, the system allows players to get in touch with each other through an instant messenger-like user inter-face if their avatars are close to each other in the game.

Efficient production of contents is a key requirement in the ELIOS perspective. In particular, we have developed two authoring tools. One supports the reconstruction of urban areas according to the likelihood principle. Users have to provide sample textures of architectonic elements in the area to be reconstructed, and their statistical characterization. The authoring tools automatically builds the textures for the facades for the buildings in the area. A second authoring tool supports content developers in easily building MGs based on configurable software templates. Development also includes annotation through metadata that will be used at runtime by the Event Generator engine in order to deliver the most proper events according to the actual player profile.

We have also developed the RealPath algorithm, a new solution for automatic definition of paths based on simple input pictures, which reduces the cost for the creation of new game maps. The algorithm exploits an image’s pixel values and extracts information on the terrain in order to identify possible paths in the area.

In the EU Vital Mind project, concluded in 2011, ELIOS has led the development of the software framework for running cognitive application on an interactive TV (iTV) Flash SetTopBox, where data and applications are in an external Disk on key in order to favor portability and user privacy. ELIOS has also developed a suite of twenty cognitive-ability assessment and training applications for older people, and a non-cognitive “Family scene composer” application for inter-generation dialogue.


Pubblications 2011

1)         Jurgelionis, H. H. Nap, B.J. Gajadhar, F. Bellotti, A. I. Wang, and R. Berta, “Player Experience and Technical Performance Prospects for Distributed 3D Gaming in Private and Public Settings”, ACM Computers in Entertainment 9, 3, Article 16 (November 2011), 19 pages

2)         Bellotti F., Berta R., De Gloria A. and Cardona S., “An architectural approach to efficient 3D urban modeling”, Computers & Graphics, Vol. 35, Issue 5, October 2011, Pages 1001-1012

3)         M. Bardini, F. Bellotti, R. Berta and A. De Gloria. "Enabling Dynamic Generation of Levels for RTS Serious Games Entertainment Computing", Elsevier Entertainment Computing, Vol. 2, Issue: 2, 2011, 123-131.

4)         F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria, A. Ozolina, “Investigating the added value of interactivity and serious gaming for educational TV”, Computers & Education, Vol. 57, No. 1, 2011, pp. 1137-1148.

5)         F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria, G. Panizza, M. Pellegrino, L. Primavera, Designing Serious Games for Cultural Heritage Purposes, in S. de Freitas, P. Maharg (Ed.), Digital Games and Learning, Continuum, 2011.

6)         Bellotti F., Berta R., De Gloria A. and Lavagnino E., “Towards a Conversational Agent Architecture to Favor Knowledge Discovery in Serious Games”, Proc.s of Int.l Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, ACE ’11, Lisbon, November 2011

7)         Bellotti F., Berta R., De Gloria A., Arnab S., de Freitas S., Kiili K. and Ott M., “Designing Serious Games for Education: From Pedagogical Principles to Game Mechanisms”, Euroepan Conference on Game-Based Learning (ECGBL 2011), Athens, October 2011

8)         Bellotti F., Berta R., Catalano C.E., Fiucci G., Houri-Panchetti M., Mortara M., Petridis P., "Serious Games for Cultural Heritage: the GaLA activities", in proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage VAST, M. Dellepiane, F. Niccolucci, S. Pena Serna, H. Rushmeier, and L. Van Gool (Editors), Prato (Italy), October 2011, pp. 1–5

9)         F. BellottiR. BertaA. De Gloria and M. Margarone. "LodeStar: a mobile device to enhance visually impaired people experience of cultural and naturalistic places", in Proceedings of Re-Thinking Technology in Museums Conference. University of Limerick, Ireland. 26-27 May 2011.

10)     F. Bellotti, R. Berta and A. De Gloria, “An interactive TV framework for Serious Games”, The IFIP WG 5.7 15th Workshop on Experimental Interactive Learning in Industrial Management, in collaboration with  GaLA, Espoo, Finland, 5-7 June 2011

  

VEHICULAR COMMUNICATION, TRAFFIC AND DRIVER INFROMATION MANAGEMENT, AND HUMAN MACHINE INTERACTION

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

In the EasyRider project we are customizing the concept and tools for an integrated application aimed at ensuring safety in a road-work area. Beside, car-infrastructure communication, here we are using also a Laser-scanner to detect possible risks from cars passing by the covered area.

In the ACIS project (Liguria district of technologies) we have designed and developed an algorithm to extract mean-value traffic information in a urban cell collecting data from floating cars (car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication).

In the SlimPort project we have developed a traffic prediction system based on bayesian networks and one on a traffic simulator.

ELIOS Lab is currently negotiating the TEAM-IP EU project aimed at developing new cooperative systems based on inter-vehicular and vehicle-infrastructure communication, with particular attention to green and safe driving. In the project, ELIOS will be responsible in particular for the development of game theory algorithms for vehicle cooperation and of social serious games for training for green and safe driving.

 

NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL MEAUREMENTS

F. Bellotti, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

Awareness is growing that neuroscientific knowledge can offer a significant contribution to improve education. ELIOS is conducting is conducting a research work aimed at investigating the in-game player’s enjoyment state through commercial electroencephalograms. In particular, we focus on three consequential research questions: is it possible to statistically distinguish a flow from a boredom condition? Which wavelengths are significant for such a classification? Can different levels of boredom and flow be identified? This work gives initial positive answers. Results, even if limited because of the small size of the first tests, are promising and enable further research. New, more extensive experiments are needed to better interpret some results of the wave spectrum analysis, also exploiting a better characterization of the actual activities and conditions of the user during the tests. SVM classification achieved significant accuracy results in the 2-level analysis case, in particular with personalized training (81% average accuracy).
 

Pubblications 2011

1)         Plotnikov A., Stakheika N., De Gloria A., Schatten C., Bellotti F., Berta R., Fiorini C., Ansovini F., “Exploiting real-time EEG analysis for assessing flow in games”, Workshop: “Game based learning for 21st century transferable skills”, at iCalt 2012, Rome, Italy, June 2012

 


TACTILE SENSING SYSTEMS

M. Valle, D. Caviglia, P. Gastaldo

Tactile sensing enables robots to perform safe interactions with the environment in case of both voluntary and reactive interaction tasks. Our present research concerns sensing technologies and methods for the development of distributed and modular components for general-purpose large-area tactile sensors.

The aim is thus to build multisensory systems which integrate different physical sensors on a same patch. In particular our skin system is made by conformable patches of triangular shape, interconnected in order to form a networked structure. This application demands mechanical flexibility, conformability joint with a relatively wide frequency bandwidth (up to 1 kHz). Piezoelectric transducers in the form of PVDF thin polymer films have been chosen, as they meet these requirements except from perceiving static mechanical stimuli. We are pursuing two major goals: to develop robotic skin for small area robot parts (i.e. hand of the robot) and for large area robot parts (e.g. torso, back and limbs). In both research areas, we addressed issues concerning the manufacturing technology, the interface electronics and the system integration.

As regards “Large area piezoelectric sensors technology”, the sensors array has been implemented by a flexible conformable PCB structure. First, we started from an understanding of the transducer electromechanical behavior in different basic conditions in order to orient the design of complex systems. In particular, the frequency behavior of different dielectric and piezoelectric moduli has been measured and some considerations have been made on the PVDF response time-temperature dependence.

The piezoelectric “functional” material must be integrated into complex mechanical structures which also include a substrate and a protective layer. How to integrate the PVDF transducer is not an easy task, because its behavior depends on several aspects including the properties of the whole mechanical chain, such as, e.g., material and thickness of the protective layer. Moreover, these design features also influence the requirements of the interface electronics and the data processing, to cite some of the most important aspects. Thus, two electromechanical models of the skin structure (i.e. covering layer + PVDF thin film) have been developed and experimentally evaluated.

Therefore, a number of elementary qualitative tactile perceptions have been experimentally quantified i.e. the corresponding mechanical contact force/stress have been measured. The contact pressure spans on about 5 orders of magnitude ranging from 50 [Pa] to 5 [MPa]. The proposed methodology is novel if compared with the state of the art.

The contact stress/force range together with the measured charge response of different PVDF prototypes and the models of the skin structure have been used as reference for the development of the Interface electronics. This electronics (based on a charge amplifier) has been implemented in various PCB prototypes, which have been subsequently experimentally tested and evaluated.The experimental tests highlighted the need of a variable gain electronics solution to be able to measure the wide range of tactile stimuli expected for the application. This novel electronics has been designed and tested: it features a bandwidth from about 1 Hz up to 1 kHz and the output signal ranges over five orders of magnitude.

The manufacturing technology for PVDF sensors arrays has been identified and assessed. Some prototypes of triangular sensors arrays have been manufactured and they are currently tested. Preliminary results confirm the feasibility and reliability of the proposed structure. Finally, a data processing algorithm for the estimation of the distribution of forces on the covering layer and for the estimation of the contact shape is investigated and a dedicated hardware implementation is currently addressed.

At a system level, theoverall architecture has been identified, which is based on the following structure: PVDF sensors array, interface electronics (one for each channel), ADC converter with I2C communication interface, I2C bus, microcontroller.

As regards “small area piezoelectric sensors technology”, the development of a tactile sensing system for small area (about 1.2 mm x1.2 mm size of the sensors array chip, 4 x 4 sensors) with similar performance to that of human hand skin (i.e. taxel sensing area equal to 1 mm2, sensors pitch equal to 1.5 mm, single sensor bandwidth from 1 Hz up to 1 kHz) has been achieved. The system is based on POSFET tactile sensing chips. These are manufactured by FBK (www.fbk.eu). The manufacturing technology is based on a standard CMOS process. The tactile sensing system has been designed and a PCB prototype has been implemented. It can be interfaced through an USB communication channel to the host PC. The results achieved so far validate the system design. Extensive validation experiments have been planned for the next few months. The tactile system has been miniaturized (i.e. small size about 3 cm x 3 cm area) and integrated on the palm of iCub.
 

Pubblications 2011

1)         L. Seminara, M. Capurro, P. Cirillo, G. Cannata, M. Valle, Electromechanical characterization of piezoelectric PVDF polymer films for tactile sensors in robotics applications, Sens. Actuators A: Phys. (2011), doi:10.1016/j.sna.2011.05.004.

2)         Dahiya, R.; Cattin, D.; Adami, A.; Collini, C.; Barboni, L.; Valle, M.; Lorenzelli, L.; Oboe, R.; Metta, G.; Brunetti, F.; Towards Tactile Sensing System on Chip for Robotic Applications, IEEE Sensors Journal, June 2011, Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/JSEN.2011.2159835.

3)         S. Decherchi, P. Gastaldo, R. S. Dahiya, M. Valle, R. Zunino, Tactile Sensing Data Classification by Computational Intelligence, in IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ROBOTICS, vol. 34, n. 3, 2011, pp. 1-5.

4)         Ravinder S. Dahiya, Giorgio Metta, Giorgio Cannata, Maurizio Valle, Guest Editorial Special Issue on Robotic Sense of Touch, in IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ROBOTICS, vol. 27, n. 3, 2011, pp. 385-388.

5)         A. K. Sinha, M. Valle, Bias Circuit Design for POSFET based Tactile Sensing Devices, in Proc. of 7th Conference on PhD Research in Microelectronics and Electronics, Madonna di Campiglio (Trento) Italy on 3th-7th July 2011.

6)         Barboni, L.; Valle, M.; Carlini, G., Smart readout design for tactile sensing devices, in Proc. of 18th IEEE International Conference on Electronics, Circuits and Systems (ICECS), 2011, Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICECS.2011.6122316, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 476 – 479.

7)         Pinna, L.; Carlini, G.; Seminara, L.; Valle, M., Interface electronics for tactile sensing arrays, in Proc. of 18th IEEE International Conference on Electronics, Circuits and Systems (ICECS), 2011, Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICECS.2011.6122314, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 468 – 471.

8)         Sinha, A.K.; Valle, M., Bias circuit design for POSFET based tactile sensing devices, in Proc. of 2011 7th Conference on Ph.D. Research in Microelectronics and Electronics (PRIME), Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/PRIME.2011.5966240, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 153 – 156.

9)         Sinha, A. K.; Valle, M., A scheme for measuring and extracting level-1 parameter of FET device applied toward POSFET sensors array, in Proc. of 2011 International Conference on Microelectronics (ICM), Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICM.2011.6177351, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 1 – 5.

10)     Sinha, A. K.; Valle, M., An approach to realize high value resistance using PMOS device at weak inversion for POSFET sensor, in Proc. of 2011 International Conference on Microelectronics (ICM), Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICM.2011.6177356, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 1 – 4.

11)     R.S. Dahiya, D. Cattin, A. Adami, C. Collini, L. Barboni, M. Valle, L. Lorenzelli, R. Oboe, G. Metta, F. Brunetti, Tactile Sensing Systems based on POSFET sensing arrays, Sensors and Microsystems: AISEM 2011 Proceedings, Springer Publisher, 2011.

12)     R.S. Dahiya, L. Barboni, M. Valle, POSFET touch sensing devices: bias circuit design based on the ACM MOS transistor compact model, Sensors and Microsystems: AISEM 2011 Proceedings, Springer Publisher, 2011.

13)     L. Seminara, M. Valle, M. Capurro, P. Cirillo, G. Cannata, Piezoelectric polymer films for tactile sensors, Sensors and Microsystems: AISEM 2011 Proceedings, Springer Publisher, 2011.


BEHAVIORAL MODELS OF MIXED-MODE CIRCUITS ANS SYSTEMS

M. Valle

The rising demands for safety, power management, weight reduction and comfort make the in-vehicle communication networks very complex systems. The design and verification of such complex systems are becoming each time more difficult, increasing the design verification effort, in order to assess the network dependability. Test and fault diagnosis of network integration are strongly required to ensure that all devices are able to correctly and reliably interact together as specified. Before implementing the network in a final product, designers have to be sure that it works properly, even during fault conditions.

Verifications by measurements on prototypes are expensive, time consuming and not flexible. Moreover, they cannot represent all the worst case scenarios.

Time and investments are necessary to implement hundreds of different topologies and analyze their behaviors. On the other hand, transistor level simulations of these systems, like Spice, are often practically impossible because of the enormous computational time required due the many interactions of all nonlinearities.

An efficient solution to the problem of networks design and verification is to run behavioral simulations i.e. to use behavioral models that reproduce the characteristics of functions realized by circuits rather than the transistor level detailed circuit.

Simulations can be used for verifying the physical layer of the network in order to guarantee sufficient signal integrity. Different kinds of topologies and terminations can be simulated in very short period of time if compared with hardware prototypes. It makes possible testing and verifying quickly as much network designs as necessary.

Controller-Area-Network (CAN) networks application have increased significantly in the last years and it has become the most widely used serial communication protocol, especially in automotive applications. CAN is a serial communication protocol that defines a differential voltage to represent recessive and dominant states on a wired transmission bus and allows bit rates up to 1.0 Mbps.

The fast growth in advanced automotive control systems demands data rates and reliability not covered by CAN communication buses. Requirements for actual in-vehicle control applications include the combination of higher data rates, deterministic behavior and the support of fault tolerance. The FlexRay communication system can handle with these issues. It's an automotive standard hybrid protocol that combines time-triggered and event-triggered messages, it is fault-tolerant and high-speed data communication. Trends point FlexRay as the communication protocol of new in-vehicle applications.

According to the above context the mixed-mode behavioral models of CAN and Flexray physical layer transceivers were developed. The models have the purpose of allowing simulations of complete networks in real operating conditions, when all other network model devices are available (e.g. transmission line, common mode chokes, etc.). The behavioral models fulfills the CAN and Flexray communication system specifications, correctly representing all bus states, taking into account all the electrical characteristics and implementing the generic functionalities of the protocols.

A systematic design methodology was applied to the models implementation. Conceptual models were defined taking into account all parameters described in the model specification. The requirements of each model were broken down into a collection of components and the components were decomposed until a level of primitive elements, resulting in a hierarchically composed model. The advantage of this development methodology is that the primitive elements can be used for composing the different models.

The speed, accuracy and convergence trade-off was addressed implementing the primitive elements in different abstraction levels. Some model elements are described using mathematical expressions (like piecewise linear and Taylor series approximation) in a very high abstraction level, while others use a low abstraction modelling approach, resulting in a description very close to the electronic circuit. The behavioral models were implemented using the VHDL-AMS hardware description language.


Pubblications 2011

1)         C. Muller, M. Valle, Design and simulation of automotive communication networks: the challenges, e & i Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik, Volume 114 / 1997 - Volume 128 / 2011, Spring Verlag Publisher.

2)         [157].           Muller, C.; Valle, M.; Armengaud, E.; Tengg, A., A generic framework for failure modes and effects analysis of automotive networks, in Proc. of 2011 9th IEEE International Conference on Industrial Informatics (INDIN), Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/INDIN.2011.6034891, Publication Year: 2011 , Page(s): 293 - 298

 

MACHINE LEARNING AND COMPUTATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FOR SMART DEVICES AND SYSTEMS

D. Anguita

The research activity focuses on Machine Learning (ML) and Computational Intelligence (CI) for building Smart Devices and Systems (SDaS). In particular, the research activity develops through three complementary lines: the first one addresses theoretical issues of ML and CI, needed for developing new effective algorithms, mainly for system identification and pattern recognition, and assessing their performance in real-world applications [R1, R2, R3, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, C8]. The second line of research addresses the algorithm implementation on resource-limited computing architectures, like FPGAs or microprocessors, targeting their use in Smart Devices [R4]. The third line of research addresses the application of algorithms and implementations, developed in previous lines, to real-world problems like, for example, the development of Smart Underwater Wireless Sensor Networks [C1], exploiting ML algorithms for adaptive optical communication or, more recently, the interpretation of data from wearable (e.g. Smartphones) or environmental sensors for human activity recognition and monitoring. These two applications have been recently addressed in the framework of the Erasmus Mundus Doctorate Programme in Interactive and Cognitive Environments (ICE), in cooperation with UPC (Spain) and QMUL (UK).


Pubblications 2011

1)         D.Anguita, A.Ghio, S.Ridella, Maximal Discrepancy for Support Vector Machines, Neurocomputing, Vol. 74, pp. 1436-1443, 2011.

2)         D.Anguita, L.Carlino, A.Ghio, S.Ridella, A FPGA Core Generator for Embedded Classification Systems, Journal of Circuits, Systems and Computers, Vol. 20, pp. 263-282, 2011.

3)         D.Anguita, A.Ghio, L.Oneto, S.Ridella, The Impact of Unlabeled Patterns in Rademacher Complexity Theory for Kernel Classifiers, Proc. of  Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems  (NIPS), Granada, Spain, 2011.

4)         D.Anguita, A.Ghio, L.Oneto, S.Ridella, In-sample Model Selection for Support Vector Machines, IEEE Int. Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN), pp. 1154-1161, San Jose, CA, USA, 31 Jul. - 05 Aug. 2011.

5)         D.Anguita, A.Ghio, L. Oneto, S. Ridella, Selecting the Hypothesis Space for Improving the Generalization Ability of Support Vector Machines, IEEE Int. Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN), pp. 1169-1176, San Jose, CA, USA, 31 Jul. - 05 Aug. 2011.

6)         D.Anguita, A.Ghio, L.Oneto, S.Ridella, Maximal Discrepancy vs. Rademacher Complexity for Error Estimation, 19th European Symposium on Artificial Neural Networks, Computational Intelligence and Machine Learning (ESANN), pp. 257-262, Bruges, Belgium, 27-29 Apr. 2011.

7)         D.Anguita, L.Ghelardoni, A.Ghio, S.Ridella, Test Error Bounds for Classifiers: A Survey of Old and New Results, IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computational Intelligence (FOCI), pp. 80- 87, Paris, France, 11-15 Apr. 2011.

 

ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS FOR SECURITY AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

P. Gastaldo, R. Zunino
 
This research line aims to develop intelligent and low-cost solutions for security applications.  The main goals are, on one hand, to endow security systems with novel capabilities that enhance overall performance and, on the other, to design and realize electronic systems that allow an efficient and inexpensive support of those technologies.

The former goal is achieved by means of intelligent, adaptive algorithms, which are suitably designed and optimized for the high-rate and computationally demanding tasks. These algorithm make it possible real-time processing of both sensor signals (magnetic anti-intrusion detectors for critical infrastructure protection) and unstructured data (classification and understanding of textual information for leak prevention).

The electronic implementation involves the design, realization and testing of embedded systems, where the sensing component has an equal weight as compared with the computational resources, and therefore require specific design techniques to limit costs.

 

INTELLIGENT ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS FOR SENSING AND COMPLEX DOMAIN PROCESSING

P. Gastaldo, R. Zunino

This research line continues the efforts of several past years in the development of adaptive methods for high-dimensional signal processing in complex domains, where no model is available and only raw data provide the information about the observed phenomenon. The research mostly addresses the design and efficient implementation of intelligent algorithms in inexpensive electronic architectures. Programmable logic devices that support application-oriented embedded systems are the key technology for the overall development process.

The main results of this research consist in the application and electronic implementation of intelligent learning tools to several real-world domains, such as tactile robot sensing, digital FPGA-based implementation of classification algorithms, electronic systems for vision and image-processing.
 

Pubblications 2011

1)         Decherchi S, Gastaldo P, Dahiya RS, Valle M, Zunino R, Tactile Data Classification of Contact Materials Using Computational Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 2011, vol.27, No.3, pp.635-639

2)         Decherchi S, Gastaldo P, Zunino R, Efficient Approximate Regularized Least Squares by Toeplitz Matrix, Pattern Recognition Letters, 2011, vol.32, No. 3, pp. 468-475

3)         Liu H, Redi J, Alers H, Zunino R, Heynderickx I, An Efficient Neural Network based No-Reference Approach to an Overall Quality Metric for JPEG and JPEG2000 Compressed Images, SPIE Journal on Electronic Imaging, Oct-Dec 2011, vol.20, No.4, pp. 043007-1/14

4)         Decherchi S, Gastaldo P, Leoncini A, Sangiacomo F, Zunino R, Operative Assessment of Predicted Generalization Errors on Non-Stationary Distributions in Data-Intensive Applications, Intelligent Data Analysis, 2011, vol.15, No.2, pp. 193-214

5)         Leoncini A, Sangiacomo F, Argentesi S, Zunino R, Cambria E, Semantic Models for Style-based Text Clustering, IEEE Int. Conf .Semantic Computing ICSC 2011, Stanford, Sept 2011, pp.75-82

6)         Decherchi S, Leoncini D, Gastaldo P, Zunino R, Faggioni O, Soldani M, Computational Intelligence Methods for Underwater Magnetic-based Protection Systems, Int. Joint Conf. Neural Networks – IJCNN 2011, San Jose, 2011, pp.238-245

7)         Leoncini A, Sangiacomo F, Decherchi S, Gastaldo P, Zunino R, Semantic Oriented Clustering of Documents, Int. Symp. Neural Networks ISNN 2011, Guilin, China, May 2011, Part III, Springer LNCS 6677, pp. 523–529


MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS FOR IMPARED USERS

F. Curatelli

The access to ICT often constitute a major problem for users that are affected by motor or learning disabilities, so that these users cannot effectively benefit from ICT technologies. On the other hand, the flexibility, multimediality and computation power provided by computers make it possible to implement software and hardware-software tools for improving special education of impaired students. The research on multimedia systems for impaired users has concerned activities in the following fields.

1) Intelligent systems for optimizing human-computer interaction (HCI) by non-expert users, motor-impaired users, and users affected by specific learning disability (such as dyslexia).

To this aim  we have first studied and implemented a powerful pseudo-syllabic paradigm, which is applicable to both real and virtual keyboards and makes it possible to improve the efficiency of text-entry.  By adopting a novel orthogonal framework, keyboards are defined as 2-D regular arrays of keys. Non-expert and motor-impaired users can fast and intuitively input any possible combination of pseudo-syllables, which are text entry units with simpler consonant-vowel phonemic structure.  Moreover, it is possible to input single characters in the typical letter-by-letter way. The orthogonal keyboard paradigm has been applied for Italian, Spanish, Croatian (which are languages with very regular orthographies), and to an almost opaque language such as English. 

In addition two other and novel virtual keyboard paradigm have been studied and implemented.  In the first paradigm there are hexagonal keys in which each edge is stretchable, so that the target pseudo-syllable can be selected by simply navigating within the key. The second paradigm is based on the use of triangular keys which belong to one or more compact hexagonal keyboards, and the task of the user is made easier by continuously showing in a moving frame the current word, possibly capitalized and/or segmented to make reading easier for dyslexic users. Moreover, we have studied a methodology and implemented a tool for allowing dyslexic users to read web pages and texts by providing suitable segmentation, magnification and text highlighting.

2) Intelligent systems for special education of impaired students, mainly students affected by childish cerebral palsy: software programs for aiding impaired students in training and executing mathematics, linguistic and technical operations

We have started with a careful analysis of the cognitive and learning problems encountered by these children during the first years of school. These problems concern the logic, linguistic and mathematical fields, with impairment of the cognitive abilities, the capabilities to understand and produce texts, the abilities to perceive the meaning of numbers, measures, geometry and operations, and to solve mathematical problems.  This has led to the study and application of suitable methodologies for improving the cognitive abilities both in the logic-linguistic and in the logic-mathematical fields.

To support these methodologies a set of software tools, studied and implemented. Some tools allow the motor-impaired children to independently and easily execute the four arithmetic operations, and to acquire the capability of recognizing and measuring one and two-dimension geometric figures. Other tools helps children in acquiring the meaning of the basic arithmetic operations through a suitable training in managing common situations of the real world that requires the use of numbers, such as: using coins and banknotes, calendars, clocks, etc.


Pubblications 2011

1)         B. Martinengo, F. Curatelli, "Metodologie Didattiche e TIC per Favorire l'Apprendimento in Bambini con Disabilità  Motoria", TD-Tecnologie Didattiche, N. 52 (1-2011), pp. 36-42, (ISSN : 1970-061X).
 

 
NONLINEAR INTEGRATED PHOTONIC DEVICES FOR OPTICAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

D.D. Caviglia, E. Di Zitti

The research means to carry out a systematic study of the fundamental aspects of the behaviour of nonlinear guiding structures for optical signal processing applications. It will be pursued by making a comparison with the theoretical electromagnetic model predictions and the experimental measurements  derived from ad hoc designed integrated photonic devices.

The nonlinear effects will be exploited to realize elementary logical gates and of fully optical sampling and regeneration.

The Cell-Centered Finite-Volume Time-Domain (FVTD) method was applied for the electromagnetic analysis of a linear microring, coupled with two dielectric waveguides. The considered structure is of great interest in photonic applications, in particular in all-optical signal processing systems.

The computation domain required for the simulation is composed of some regions, such as the waveguides and the ring, which require a fine mesh and of other regions, wherein the spatial discretization may be coarser without significant loss of accuracy, but with a significant gain in computational resources.

The input electric field band is in the range 50-350 THz. The input waveform is Gaussian multiplied by a sinusoidal carrier of frequency 200 THz.

Moreover, a microring-based XNOR gate has been described and modeled by means of a Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) simulator and the obtained results confirmed the satisfactory operation of the device. Further investigation is currently being carried on for a more precise characterization of this and similar photonic gates.

The ultra-short pulse propagation in Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) structures was also investigated and modeled through the Piecewise Linear Recursive Convolution (PLRC) technique in the context of the Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) solution of  Maxwell’s equations. In Kerr and Raman  cases, stable propagation of the pulse was observed, showing soliton propagation.
 

Pubblications 2011

1)         G. Bozza, D.D. Caviglia, E. Di Zitti, M. Pastorino, P, Nadimi, “Finite-Difference Time-Domain Simulation of  Microring-Based Photonic Logic Gates”, Fotonica 2011, 13° Convegno Nazionale delle Tecnologie Fotoniche, Genova, 9-11 maggio 2011.

 

NANOTECHNOLOGY: CARBON NANOMATERIALS FOR ELECTRONICS

E. Di Zitti

The performed research explored the possibility of producing carbon nanomaterials from carbon containing natural sources such as oils, seeds, camphor, etc.

Glossy carbon films were obtained from karanja oil in hydrogen atmosphere by simple pyrolysis technique. Micro-Raman, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscope were used to characterize the samples which reveal the amorphous nature of film made of sp2 and sp3 type carbon. The ferromagnetic nature of the film at temperature 5 K was confirmed using superconducting quantum interferometric device magnetometer. The X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy data for the film has suggested the low enough percentage

of ferromagnetic metallic oxide as an impurity, which has no influence on present ferromagnetic property.

Analysis of the magnetization curve observed in the magnetic field range−50 to 50 kOe has explored the ferromagnetic behavior of glossy carbon film at low temperature.

A further research addressed the use of waste polypropylene (PP) as precursor for synthesizing multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) by single stage chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method using nickel as catalyst. The pyrolytic degradation of PP to MWCNT was achieved by exposing the catalyst and precursor to temperature 600,700 and 800 C under argon and hydrogen atmosphere for an hour. The resultant carbon was purified and characterized by XRD, Raman scattering, SEM, TEM and HRTEM. All the analysis confirmed the graphitic nature and multi-walled morphology of the CNT. Moreover the MWCNT was found to exhibit high transmittance to visible light up to 85% at 550 nm, comparable to that of typical ITO films (90%), suggesting that MWCNTs can be used for optoelectronic devices.

The synthesis of this material opens a new research path for not only to synthesize a high quality MWCNTs which can be applied in different fields but also to remove the waste plastic from the environment, making the ambient clean.

The present work could be employed for synthesizing CNTs, having wide range of applications, and for environment protection as well since waste plastic is being used.
 


DIGITAL SYSTEMS SIMULATORS FOR EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS

G. Donzellini, D. Ponta

The research activity is application oriented and is focused on the simulation of Digital Systems, targeted mainly to educational applications.  The suite that we have developed, DEEDS (Digital Electronics Education and Design Suite), is a set of three simulation tools covering:

 - Combinational and Sequential logic networks (d-DcS)

 - Finite State Machine design (d-FsM)

 - Micro-computer interfacing and programming (d-McE)

Tools are integrated together to allow the simulation of embedded  systems. They provide full support for lectures and laboratory practice to a course on Digital Design.

In the last year we have developed a new module that extends the features of Deeds toward programmable logic devices. The module, called “FPGA extension” is an addition to the d-DcS simulator. It allows the compilation of a project generated with Deeds into an FPGA chip, reducing to a minimum the interaction with the FPGA-specific CAD. The FPGA extension allows to associate all the input and output of the Deeds project to the devices and resources of an FPGA development board. A code generator produces all the VHDL and script files needed by the CAD to compile the project and load it on the board for testing.


Pubblications 2011

1)         G. Donzellini, D. Ponta, “A Bottom-up Approach to Digital Design with FPGA“, Proceedings of the “8th 2011 International Conference on Microelectronic Systems Education – IEEE MSE11”,  San Diego, California (U.S.A.), 5-6 June 2011, pp. 31-34, ISBN 978-1-4577-0550-2.

 

 

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