Adaptive, self-organizing IT systems will play an important role when answering increasingly complex questions that arise by the ubiquitous interconnection of technical devices. The vision by Mark Weiser in which the computer will be replaced by smart things has already become a reality to some extent. Nowadays, everyday things frequently comprise the computing power of common PCs. Unfortunately, such things build up on proprietary solutions, which impedes a comprehensive integration and the communication between the devices that is the foundation for sensible, new applications. The handling of the different things has not been solved consistently and above all lacks intuitivity and perspicuity. Interfaces for an intuitive administration and suitable visualizations of the arising computer ubiquity, which are the prerequisites for further development as well as the acceptance of the systems by the users, are completely missing.
The graduate school's goal is the development of methods for the secure and transparent communication in adaptive, self-combining IT systems. In this context, communication means the information exchange between different systems as well as the communication between the users and systems. To solve the arising problems, versatile competencies are mandatory in a range of diverse areas in the field of computer sciences such as theoretics, distributed systems, telecommunications, image processing or visualization. The participating professors in this graduate school form such an interdisciplinary task force whose competencies complement each other idealy even beyond the university's boundaries, which further intensifies the multidisciplinary knowledge transfer.
To pursue the vision of adaptive, self-combining IT systems for future living environments, the graduate school focuses on three fields of research:
- Security and
- Human computer interaction.
Self-x properties (self-organization, self-configuration, self-optimization, self-healing, self-adaptation, self-stabilization, self-protection, self-controlling, …) form a central principle enabling the mastering of highly complex autonomous systems, fulfilling quality requirements and accomplishing system service with negligible attention by the user. Self-x employs approaches from the fields of biology as well as from socio-econmic systems.
Targeting security means on the one hand developing and verifying structures, algorithms and protocols allowing to grant authenticity in entangled systems and at the same time ensuring the necessary anonymity respectively the required protection of privacy and the informational self-determination of the users already on a technical basis – even on systems with limited hardware possibilities. On the other hand, without requiring the administrative intervention of a user, the entangled system must be capable of protecting itself against threats from the outside (self-protection) as well as repelling unwanted emergent behavior. The starting point forms, for instance, examinations of zero knowledge protocols and special crytographic methods for embedded systems and ad-hoc networks.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
Human computer interaction is critical regarding different user profiles, regarding the usability and regarding engineering and monitoring of the entangled system. Central topics of HCI within the graduate school are multi-sensor interfaces for the research of new interaction metaphors based on different input sensors including the neatless integration of available standard interfaces, visualizations allowing the user to gain the mental model of the entangled system by offering new means for visual authoring under the application of mixed reality as well as the evolutionary development of user interfaces also under the consideration of accessibility.
Beyond the introduced focal points, the graduate school strives contributing essential findings for the engineering of self-organizing, distributed autonomous systems, this means developing models, methods and tools supporting the development cycle from the requirements analysis up to the operation and service of such entangled systems. The vision within is that even users contribute actively as authors in the engineering process thanks to appropriate tools. The graduate school considers all layers of the systems, from the heterogeneous computing node, to communications infrastructure, to middleware and up to applications in working rooms, leisure rooms and learning rooms in future living environments.