Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent Programming Contest 2016

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Advent calendars typically begin on December 1 and provide a window to open until December 24. Usually they have windows, which you can open each day containing some chocolate or other stuff. But what is better to kill some time until Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Boxing Day, etc. than an Advent calendar giving you a programming problem every day?

The Advent Programming Contest, being organized by the IEEE Student Branch Klagenfurt will provide a new problem every day from December 1st to December 24th. You can submit solutions any day until the contest ends on December 26. You can choose to use C, C++, C#, Java, Perl, Python 2.x or Python 3.x as programming language. The programming tasks can be solved with short programs (typically less than 100 lines of code). Until a solution is correct you can submit your program as often as you want (but please don't spam our server). The number of tries will not be a criterion for determining your score. The idea is to do it just for fun, but we will try to announce a winner after the contest is closed. The event is open to everyone. There are separate categories for pupils, university students and others. If you want to participate, please register at http://mooshak.nes.aau.at/ (Registration is also possible after 1st December)

Here are some example problems from last year:

 All problems from Adventcoder 2015 can be found in this document. If you want to see the new ones, you need to join the contest :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Evolving Spiking Neural Networks: Growth of Learning Machines

J. David Schaffer gave an excellent talk on evolving Spiking Neural Networks at the Center for Collective Dynamics of Complex Systems (CoCo) Seminar Series.

Many of today's neural network applications are based on multi-layer implementations of the perceptron. A perceptron implements a neuron model that sums weighted inputs and applies a non-linear activation function to calculate the output. Despite that this model deviates from how biological neuron networks work, the approach works and is used until today. In contrast, Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) are a type of neural network that increase the realism in neural network simulation by introducing a time aspect into the model. Other than perceptron networks that decide upon their output at each propagation cycle, SNNs fire when a certain membrane potential is reached, which puts information into the timing of a spike.

J. David Schaffer shows how a genetic algorithm can be applied to generate an SNN for a given problem. Therefore, the chromosome representing an SNN will be mapped onto a binary string which will be evolved with mutation and recombination.

Evolving Spiking Neural Networks: Growth of Learning Machines from Complex Systems on Vimeo

Further readings on the topic:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Two Open PhD Student Positions at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria

The Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria, has an opening for two researchers (PhD student) in Self-Organizing Networked Systems.

You will work in an European project on Cyber-Physical Systems. The project duration is three years. Research will be conducted at the Smart Grids group at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems under the supervision of Professor Wilfried Elmenreich. Working language is English. The institute cooperates with national and international partners from industry and academia and is part of the research cluster Lakeside Labs (self-organizing networked systems).

Our team is very international and dedicated to quality research and teaching. The offices and laboratories are located in the well-equipped Lakeside Science & Technology Park. Working language is English. The Institute cooperates with national and international partners in research and industry. It is part of the research cluster Lakeside Labs on self-organizing networked systems.

The candidate is expected to have a master in electrical or computer engineering, computer science, applied mathematics or equivalent. Experience in one or more of the following fields is required:
  • Distributed and swarm algorithms
  • Genetic algorithms and evolutionary design
  • Very good programming skills in Java

The contract will be based on 30 hours per week with a gross salary of at least 28314 EUR per year. Please mail applications containing a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, copies of academic certificates and courses, list of publications, and contact details of two references in a single PDF file to wilfried.elmenreich@aau.at before December 10, 2016. Women are especially encouraged to apply.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tools for Calculating Academic Collaboration Distance

I think most of you have heard about the Erdös number. The Erdös number is the number of edges between you an Erdös in an author collaboration graph.
This is an undirected network where every published paper defines egdes between their authors. Having a low Erdös number somehow became a status symbol for researchers. Since Erdös already passed away, there is no way to get an Erdös number of one today, unless you hope for a Zombie apocalypse with the death rising:

Excerpt from "Apocalypse" by Randall Munroe at xkcd.com under CC-BY-NC 2.5


Due to Paul Erdös' outstanding publication productivity, there are quite a number of people with an Erdös number of 1, so if you find the right collaborator, you can reach an Erdös number of 2, if you like. But even beyond the fad on Erdös numbers, author collaboration graphs and distances between authors are an interesting way to define closeness between the work that two academics are doing.

What are good tools to calculate author collaboration distance?

There is MathSciNet, but their database only includes mathematical journals. Since my research is mostly published in computer science/embedded systems journals, this site doesn't work for me.
The zbMATH page offers a similar tool, again it seems to include only mathamatical journals. I should publish more there.

Previously, Microsoft Academic Research had a nice author collaboration search that graphically displayed the connections between any two authors. However, this feature is currently not available, since the page was restructured to work without the Silverlight plugin. I hope the feature comes back someday.

Distance calculator at csauthors.net

Currently, the best tool for computer scientists is the distance calculator at csauthors.net. It works with a database that seems to be more complete than the ones used by the sites cited above. The database is however far from being complete, so that distances are sometimes reported to be longer than they actually are.

My Erdös number

Thanks for asking! It is 3, for example via the following papers:


All papers are on the topic of networks or networked systems. How fitting.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Call for a Full Professor of Distributed Systems at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

The Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt strives to attract a greater number of highly qualified women professors.
In accordance with the provisions of § 98 of the Austrian Universities Act, the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt is seeking to appoint a

Full Professor of Distributed Systems

at the Institute of Information Technology, Faculty of Technical Sciences, on a full-time contract, initially for a 5-year fixed term, with an anticipated starting date of October 1st, 2017.


Based on evaluation, the advertised position allows for the possibility of conversion to continuing employment.
The Alpen-Adria-Universität, with around 10,000 students, is a young, vibrant, and innovative university, located at the intersection between the Alpine and the Mediterranean cultural spheres, in a region offering the highest levels of quality of life. As public university pursuant to § 6 of the Universities Act, the university receives federal funding. The university operates under the motto “Beyond Boundaries!”.
In accordance with its key strategy document, the Development Plan, the university’s primary guiding principles and objectives include the pursuit of scientific excellence in relation to the appointment of professors, favourable research conditions, a good faculty-student ratio, and the promotion of the development of young scientists.
The university aims to appoint an individual with excellent qualifications and an international scientific reputation, who is capable of representing the discipline of Distributed Systems in research and teaching with great commitment, and who can develop and execute a sophisticated and forward-looking research programme.
The key focus areas of the professorship, which will be an integral part of the Informatics degree programmes, encompass fundamental technological and methodological principles as well as specific fields of application of Distributed Systems. Potential key focus areas include, but are not limited to: Distributed Multimedia Systems (existing focus area); Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing; Internet and Cloud Computing; Autonomic Computing; Internet of Things; Middleware/Software Engineering for Distributed Systems.
Duties and responsibilities:
  • Representation of the academic field of Distributed Systems in research and teaching within the scope defined by the overall institute, faculty and university profiles
  • Planning and teaching courses in German and English in Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degree programmes for Informatics, Information Management, and Information and Communication Engineering
  • Further development of degree programmes
  • Technical and didactic supervision of students at all levels of qualification (incl. Doctoral degree)
  • Support and qualification of young scientists
  • Initiation and implementation of interdisciplinary, interfaculty national and international cooperation arrangements
  • Acquisition, realisation and management of competitive externally funded projects as well as cooperation with industry
  • Active contribution to shaping the long-term development of the institute and to its positioning within the international scientific community
  • Active participation in university management
Required qualifications:
  • Excellent track record of research and publication activities pertaining to the remit of the professorship
  • Habilitation or equivalent qualification in the fields of Informatics or Information Technology
  • Proven teaching experience gained in the university sector and skills in the didactics of higher education pertaining to the remit of the professorship
  • Experience with the conception and implementation of externally funded projects
  • Leadership and organisational expertise as well as the capacity for teamwork
The successful candidate shall also demonstrate:
  • Persuasive conception and design of the future research and teaching portfolio pertaining to the remit of the professorship
  • Continuation of, and active participation in the ongoing development of, existing key focus areas at the institute
  • Integration in the international research landscape
  • Capability for interdisciplinary cooperation
  • Skills in the area of gender mainstreaming and diversity management
The remit of the professorship requires that the future professor shall establish Klagenfurt as her/his primary work location.
The university is committed to increasing the number of women among the academic staff, particularly in high-level positions, and therefore specifically invites applications from qualified women. Among equally qualified candidates, women will receive preferential consideration.
People with disabilities or chronic diseases who meet the required criteria are explicitly invited to apply.
The salary is subject to negotiation. The minimum salary for this employment grade (A1 acc. to the collective agreement for university employees) is currently € 67,800 per annum (gross).
Please submit your application (in English) by e-mail, consisting of a mandatory principal part not exceeding five pages (for more detailed information please refer to https://www.aau.at/en/university/services-contact/vacancies, a two-page presentation of the conception and design of the future research and teaching portfolio, a list of publications and lectures, and of all courses taught in the last five years, as well as any supplementary documents where applicable (e.g. course evaluations), to the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Office of the Senate, f.a.o. Ms. Sabine Tomicich (sabine.tomicich [at] aau.at) no later than 31st October 2016. For further information please refer to the general information brochure for candidates (https://www.aau.at/jobs/information or https://www.aau.at/en/university/services-contact/vacancies/information-about-aau/) or contact the chairperson of the selection committee, Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Hermann Hellwagner (hermann.hellwagner [at] aau.at).
Candidates are not entitled to claim reimbursement for any travel and subsistence expenses incurred in connection with the appointment procedure.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Top Journals in Multidisciplinary Science

Alex Vespignani says it briefly and concise in his tweet: for those who are fans of rankings, this would be the ten top journals in multidisciplinary science:


These are for sure great Journals to publish in, but the fact that you do work in a multidisciplinary area does not necessarily endorse you to publish in a particular journal on this list, even if your work is excellent. However, it is definitely worth to check out these journals and learn what makes them so important (this advise of course contributes to the Matthew effect :-) ).
Hope to read from you in one of these journals soon!

See also You don’t cite me anymore - Scientific publications and the ravages of time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Call for Papers Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFEXV)

The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFEXV) will be held in Cancun, Mexico on July 4th-8th. 2016.
Paper/ abstract submission deadline: February 14th, 2016
Notification to authors: March 25th, 2016
Camera ready due: April 24th, 2016

We cordially invite you to submit your work in either full paper (8 pages) or extended abstract (2 pages) format. Accepted papers and abstracts will be published by MIT Press as open-access electronic proceedings.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following aspects of Artificial Life:

– Computational humanities/anthropology/archeology
– Evolution of language, computational linguistics
– Bio-inspired, cognitive and evolutionary robotics
– Self-replication, self-repair and morphogenesis
– Artificial chemistry, origins of life
– Cellular automata and discrete dynamical systems
– Perception, cognition and behavior
– Embodied, interactive systems
– Collective dynamics of swarms
– Complex dynamical networks
– Evolutionary dynamics
– Ecological and social dynamics
– Economy/society/social media as living systems
– Methodologies and tools for artificial life
– Living technology
– Applications to nanotechnology, biology or medicine
– Applications to business and finance
– Applications to games and entertainment
– Artificial life-based art
– Philosophical and ethical issues
– Artificial life and education
Paper/abstract formatting instructions:
To properly format their contributions, participants should download and use the following formatting instructions and template files:

Please download DOC template and LaTeX template.

Note that color figures are possible, since the proceedings will be published online in electronic format.

Papers and abstracts should be uploaded in a single file, in PDF format, to the EasyChair paper submission system. No other format is accepted.

NOTE: Even if you are submitting only an abstract, please prepare it in a formatted PDF and upload it to EasyChair just like a full paper submission. Don’t use the “Abstract Only” check box.

Workshop papers are managed separately from the main conference. To submit a paper to a workshop, go to its own website, which will be listed in the Workshops page.

Camera-ready requirements for MIT Press:

All the authors must follow the following instructions carefully:

All pages sized consistently at 8.5 x 11 inches (US letter size).
No visible crop marks.
Images at no greater than 300 dpi, scaled at 100%.
Embedded open type fonts only.
All layers flattened.
No attachments.
All desired links active in the files.

Note that individual articles (PDFs) must not exceed 5 MB if they are to be indexed by Google Scholar. Additional information about Google Scholar can be found here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/scholar/inclusion.html.

Authors of selected papers will be invited to publish an extended version of their work in a special issue of the Artificial Life journal published by MIT Press.

NOTE: At least one author of every accepted paper or poster must be registered 30 days prior to the conference, or the paper/poster will be withdrawn.