System Engineering, telecommunications and HW/SW platforms

Complex control systems (cyber-physical systems)

Scientific Supervisor: Prof. Elena De Santis

The research activities related to this Curriculum aim at providing the basic mathematical background and tools for analysis and control of Cyber Physical Systems. CyberPhysical Systems refer to the integration of physical systems and processes with networked computing. The growing interest of Cyber Physical Systems is sustained by the development of important enabling technologies such as embedded systems and wired or wireless communication networks. Embedded systems are computing systems designed to perform dedicated functions often with real-time constraints, and span all aspects of everyday life, from automotive to avionics systems, from white goods to consumer electronics. Monitoring the environment, energy efficient buildings and industrial plants are today feasible with a possibly large number of sensors distributed over a wide region. Control is one of the most advanced applications of Cyber Physical Systems. Smart factories, transportation systems and energy grids are typical examples of CPS: in these systems, sensors, actuators and computing elements are connected by means of a shared (wireless) communication network. Together with the opportunities offered by the wealth of sensing/communication devices and increasing computing power, come tough challenges: control theory was based on mathematical paradigms that do not consider the non-idealities introduced by hardware/software devices and communication networks. These effects pose a number of difficult theoretical and practical problems: the design of distributed control systems must indeed jointly address the dynamics of physical systems, real-time computing and communication protocols and infrastructures.

 

Telecommunication systems and networking

Scientific Supervisor: Prof. Fortunato Santucci

Besides the huge effort to enhance the role of communication networks as  underlying layers that enable sound technical representation and analysis of any system in modern application domains (with the emerging paradigms of Cyber Physical Systems and Systems of Systems as relevant examples), this curriculum includes major topics dealing with fundamental advances in technologies, algorithms and architectures that relate to both fixed and wireless network domains and their integration. A list of major topics is provided in the following:

    • High throughput and low latency communications across heterogeneous fixed-wireless access infrastructures;
    • Network management for advanced services in broadband infrastructures for the future Internet;
    • Cross-layer protocol design for wireless sensor networks (WSN) and mobile ad-hoc networks (MANETS);
    • Cooperative wireless communications, that includes relay networks and network coding for energy efficient networking;
    • Zero power short range wireless identification systems (RFID);
    • Interference modelling, radio resource management and optimization in heterogenous and cognitive wireless networks, that include LTE and beyond;
    • Methodologies and tool chain for design, simulation and fast prototyping of protocol stacks in the wireless domain, that relate to the Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Software Defined Network (SDN) paradigms;
    • Distributed algorithms for localization techniques that rely on fusion of heterogeneous sensing elements;
    • Advanced middleware for supporting security in networked embedded systems.

Applications contexts spans from the smart power grid to smart buildings, environmental monitoring, monitoring of civil structures, industrial control and intelligent transportation systems. Besides theoretical advances, all activities offer to opportunity to interact with partner companies. Furthermore, experimental facilities are available for testing in the real world.

 

Micro and nano electronic devices for embedded systems and energy efficiency

Scientific Supervisor: Prof. Marco Faccio and Prof. Carlo Cecati

The implementation of new and better performing infrastructure for increasingly complex ICT systems, must be accompanied by a more efficient ability to design, simulate, build and test systems integrated micro and nano electronics.  It is necessary to combine the increase of functional complexity on-chip with the performance improvement and the reduction of power dissipated on chip and in the overall system. These objectives are often in marked contrast between them, they may be pursued through complementary and cooperating new strategies. Some of these strategies are aimed at strengthening of a unified view of system design post-placing as much as possible the implementation choices in order to obtain a design flow more efficient, effective and portable.  Other complementary strategies, in order to guarantee an effective, quick and compliant feasibility physical layer, consider it necessary to have an efficient ability to model devices and systems directly linked to the technology layer and then try to hook directly to the models of the upper layers. It is therefore more necessary to develop appropriate new methodologies and tools for modeling, simulation and testing of on-chip systems. (EDA tools, compliant prototyping, and technological benchmark ....). In general, we consider the development of such topics as: 

  • Methodologies, algorithms, techniques  and tools for digital systems co-design HW / SW;
  • Design and feasibility of innovative GP processing architectures and “ad hoc” processing architectures  for specific applications;
  • Design of development tools for the definition, simulation and emulation of complex microelectronic digital systems;
  • Development of methods and models for  the translation of structured architectures with model-based techniques in configurable hardware (FPGA) and / or ASIC; 
  • Policy and models development for devices and systems designed  with new physical technologies;
  • Design of complex mixed systems for ICT applications  by fullcustom technologies and tools. 
  • Finally, the high speed and the high degree of miniaturization of photonic devices recommended for the considered applications,  also a special attention to the integration of photonic systems and micro-nano electronics.

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