Research at ICTI

Whether in masters or doctoral programs – as individuals or in teams – students at ICTI engage in a wide range of research projects. Throughout our various graduate programs, student and faculty research is a key component to ICTI’s academic strengths.

As a program, ICTI’s research component focuses on scientific areas including information processing and networks, critical infrastructure and risk assessment, applied mathematics and technology, innovation and policy. A robust industrial affiliate program includes the membership of Portugal Telecom, the main telecommunications operator in Portugal, Nokia Siemens Networks; and Novabase. Other major national and multinational companies and a number of technology-based firms including Critical Software, a leading Portuguese software company, are committed to helping define the program strategy and direction.

View our Student’s Research to see examples of their work. To view the research of our faculty, visit our Faculty page.

Carnegie Mellon | Portugal Program: Research Themes

The major theme for the CMU-Portugal Program is Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). ICT has a major impact in the economic development and employment growth of the country. The impact of innovations in information and communication technologies cuts across not only industries such as computers and software, but many other sectors, as organizations in every area of activity adopt ever more sophisticated information and communication technologies.

The CMU-Portugal Program on information and communication technologies includes four main areas of core activity:

  • Information processing and networking, namely information networking, language technology, software engineering, as well information infrastructures security and dependability.
  • Critical infrastructures and risk assessment. . This area includes several focus topics, including sensing technologies and networks as well as risk Assessment and management.
  • Basic sciences with an emphasis on applied mathematics.
  • Technology, innovation and policy, focusing on technological change and entrepreneurship, as well as engineering and public policy applied to network Industries.

Information Networking: In a relatively short time, the Internet has evolved from a small research network used by researchers into a critical infrastructure that delivers a wide variety of services to hundreds of millions of users. Looking forward, we see a number of trends that are likely to cause a similarly dramatic transformation in the next ten to fifteen years. First, while the Internet initially connected fixed, wired, computers, current trends suggest that in the near future, the vast majority of users will use wireless, mobile devices to access Internet services. These personal devices will be complemented by large numbers of non-computational devices, including sensors, actuators, and I/O devices, most of which will also be wireless. This means that wireless will be pervasive as an access network technology. At the same time, the service infrastructure is evolving from simple client-server applications into a sophisticated, highly distributed, highly resilient software platform that delivers personalized services to users. Research to respond to this set of challenges is one of the critical topics included in the context of the Carnegie Mellon|Portugal collaboration.

Language Technology: There are a number of areas of strong interest that are being pursued: computer aided language learning (CALL), speech-to-speech machine translation (S2SMT), speech recognition, speech synthesis, dialogue systems, summarization, and topic detection and tracking. In particular, the CMU-Portugal Program will pursue two very important multilingual research projects: in computer aided language learning (CALL); and speech-to-speech machine translation (S2SMT). These projects will involve at least two languages, one of them being Portuguese, the target language for the CALL system to be developed and either the source or target language (or both) for the MR system. The other language is either English or Chinese (Mandarin) or both. Chinese is of particular interest to both parts, because of the existing expertise at LTI with language technologies for Chinese and the great demand from China for products involving Portuguese.

Software Engineering: Today’s world of rapidly changing software technology underscores the need for software engineering research and education to deal with new methods, tools, platforms, user expectations, and software markets that address the large scale problems that dominate current relevant applications. The programs envisaged in this CMU-Portugal cooperation target the further development of the educational and research programs at Portuguese Universities in IT and software engineering. These programs hold the potential for a significant impact on traditional large companies consumers and producers of software.

Information infrastructures security and dependability: Dependability and security are very important fields in information technology. Dependability attempts to keep systems working correctly despite the occurrence of accidental faults or defects, while security addresses problems arising from malicious hazards, attacks, or intrusions. Because systems are increasingly so complex, dynamic, and interdependent, it is no longer possible to consider these two problems, security and dependability, independently. In a modern perspective, security and dependability are concerned with both information and infrastructure. Of particular interest, are critical information infrastructures, their pervasive interconnection, and the progressive intertwining of “normal” and embedded systems. The Internet has been transformed by the proliferation of embedded, inconspicuous, and often mobile devices that cluster and un-cluster in ad-hoc fashion. Many are connected to physical artifacts, like in smart homes or ambient intelligence. This reality includes wifi-enabled small computers, wireless sensor and actuator devices, network-enabled embedded gadgets that are present in every day life, but also large scale systems like the telecom network, or the power grid that are permeated with computers that introduce digital control. This new reality poses major challenges from a security, dependability, and resiliency points of view against threats that are not known à priori. These threats include accidental hazards or faults and malicious attacks or intrusions. Given the complexity of these modern large-scale infrastructures, the educational and research program on security and dependability will pursue the development of rigorous design methodologies for fault and intrusion prevention, tolerance, and detection. 

Instrumented infrastructures - sensor networks: Recent technological developments in large-scale electronics and RF integration make it feasible and practical to address the security, continuous monitoring, and rationale management of critical infrastructures, by making very cost effective to fabricate sensing platforms that are autonomous, and have computing, sensing, and wireless communications transceivers capabilities. These inexpensive platforms are easily deployable to form ad-hoc wireless sensor networks that can be used to instrument the highly distributed, geographically extensive infrastructures like, for example, the highway system, power grids, cities, airports, as well as impromptu spaces in urgent need of surveillance or monitoring. These ad-hoc wireless sensor networks pose new problems and challenges to traditional information technology systems and telecom service providers. These challenges include: telecommunications; security; on the fly network topology design and reconfiguration; distributed software validation and fault tolerant design; network traffic estimation under constraints; or distributed decision. All these issues are to be dealt with under power constraints and scarcity of other resources.

Risk analysis and assessment: For a comprehensive program on critical infrastructures, we need to analyze and assess the risk of each possible methodology for monitoring or preventing disaster. Minimum risk decision systems must rely on adequate technological infrastructures, which have to be designed in accordance to well defined criteria, e.g., minimum cost subject to a given level of expected protection. Therefore, systems analysis, risk analysis, and behavioral decision theory form the fundamental core of a balanced and complete approach to the design of infrastructure systems, and play a key role in the definition of strategies of communication to systems’ operators and users and in public perception management.

Technical Change and Innovation: Innovation and technical change are nowadays the main engines of economic and social development. Thus, the development of strategies and policies to guide innovative activity in countries, regions and organizations is essential for the re-structuring and renewal of market economies, an imperative challenge for productivity and employment to grow. As the process of change accelerates, entrepreneurship is also becoming increasingly prominent. As a result, achieving excellence in education and research in the areas of technological innovation and policy has become essential for the competitiveness of firms, regions and countries. The transition towards a knowledge-based, entrepreneurial model of development requires the education of high quality human resources that can teach, research and work at high level private sector and public administration positions in technology commercialization and the strategic management of technology. Through their future role as educators and leading experts in these areas, these human resources could significantly influence the development of Portugal, Europe and beyond.

Engineering and Public Policy Applied to Network and Software Industries: This subarea considers two main themes for research. First, it considers telecommunications management and policy. This is because digital convergence is dramatically changing the technology, services and competitive environment faced by telecommunications carriers around the world. Portugal is no exception. Separate infrastructures tightly tied to specific services, such as telephone and cable, are giving way to generic IP based infrastructures providing a wide gamut of services, including voice, data and video. This transformation impacts industry structure, competition and regulatory policy. Critical questions range from: Is the diffusion of broadband best realized by a monopoly provider of infrastructure, or should telephone, cable and wireless based infrastructures be provided by independent entities, each competing for the customer? Second, this subarea will also consider “Public Policy for Power Grids”. The development and management of electric power grids and advanced low-carbon uses of coal, other fossil fuels, and the integration of intermittent renewables are key problems that will shape the future development of the electricity industry. This research will include, among other, looking at technical, economic, regulatory and risk-related studies of distributed energy systems, micro-grids, and advanced information technologies for integrating and controlling such systems in conventional electric power systems; studies of technology innovation in energy and environmental technologies, its relationship to government actions (both "carrots" and "sticks") and its implications for policy and energy systems development.