IHTE arranged a seminar on Social Robotics

IHTE has now had it’s first official action around a brand new research topic – social robotics and human-robot interaction. The seminar day included three lectures that were open for everybody. First, Dr. Mohammad Obaid from Uppsala University introduced us to this new topic with nice research examples that they had done in their research group. Then, researcher Iina Aaltonen from VTT talked about social service robots and about their recent results with Pepper robot. Kimmo Vänni from TAMK talked about social robots in industry and occupational settings. We thank all speakers for their nice and educational lectures 🙂

Researcher Iina Aaltonen giving her speech about recent results with Pepper. Pepper listened to the results very carefully while Nao seemed to be a bit upset.

The afternoon was spent with the students by interacting with our robots Nao and Pepper that were ofcourse present on the course, as well as by doing workshop tasks. First, the students formed five groups and they selected the topics out of what we provided (children’s clinic experience, TAYS hospital new lobby experience, Tampere customer service point experience etc.) The first task was to brainstorm the target experiences for the selected topic and context, and after that, the students carried out some quick concepting for these specific experiences. And everything had to relate to social robotics ofcourse. In the end the results were presented.

The seminar students were very happy about interacting with Pepper.

The seminar was succesful and we will continue and proceed with the topic next year.

The Robot Ladies (Pepper, Nao, Kirsikka & Aino) wishes everybody very happy Christmas and welcomes all volunteers to the robot related user studies next year 🙂

Your most humble servants. When will they replace teachers? 😀

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Portable Computing Language (pocl) 1.0 released

The Customized Parallel Computing (CPC) research group leads the development of an open source OpenCL implementation called Portable Computing Language (pocl). After some time in making, we are proud to announce the 1.0 release which passes all of the OpenCL 1.2 conformance tests! Pocl 1.0 includes also other nice features such as NVIDIA GPU support via its CUDA backend contributed by James Price / University of Bristol, and the usual supported Clang/LLVM version upgrade.

To lay out a bit of pocl’s history, it was originally a research collaboration project between Carlos Sánchez de La Lama (then at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid) and myself (Pekka Jääskeläinen) that started in around 2008.  Initially, Carlos focused on mechanisms to fine-grain parallelize OpenGL shaders for static instruction level parallel machines (such as VLIWs and of course our favorite processor paradigm, TTA) with the aim to generate efficient code for a new heavily software-programmable GPU design we called TTAGPU (which is still in VGA group’s agenda, by the way). Soon after OpenCL 1.0 was published, the shader compiler work was expanded to work on OpenCL C kernels to better support general purpose computing.

During Carlos’ collaboration visits to Finland, and my visits back to Spain in 2008-2010, the research collaboration work evolved quickly with a rough work split of me focusing on utilizing it as a backbone heterogeneous programming API for our Application-Specific Instruction-Set Processor (ASIP) design and programming toolbox TCE, and Carlos more on the compiler technique side. At some point we noticed that the kernel compiler in fact can improve performance portability of running GPU-optimized massively parallel kernels on “CPUs” (in case of pocl this in practice means most “non-GPUs” really) via the generic work-item parallelization in the kernel compiler. The thought led to the initial release of pocl, with the purpose to provide the community with an OpenCL implementation framework that is not only portable, but also performance portable, thanks to the kernel compilation techniques involved.

Now in late 2017, OpenCL and pocl are still being heavily used in CPC. In our ASIP design flow use case we like OpenCL because it has relatively wide vendor support, which means cross-vendor portability, and provides an extensive API with a lot of programmer control. However, this sometimes translates to a lot of work to get the implementations done, and we keep our eyes on ways to add more programmer-productive programming layers in our ASIP flow’s software stack. From this aspect, the C++ standardization efforts related to explicit parallelization, and the shared virtual memory heterogeneous platform specification work led by HSA Foundation look very interesting. As the field is quickly evolving, it sure is interesting to see what the most popular productive programming models for diverse heterogeneous platforms (not limited to the common CPU+GPU setup!) will be in a few years!

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Person of the Day: Lecturer Matti Rintala

Hi!

I’m Matti Rintala, working as a lecturer in our lab. I’m about as “permanent” staff as can be, I’ve been working at TUT for over twenty years now, mainly teaching courses both for our students and the industry, but also participating in the university’s teaching administration, and doing research when time allows.

During my student life I mainly studied software engineering and mathematics, and did my MSc work in Nokia Research Center (where I worked for a couple of years). Then I started my teaching career, during which I’ve taught quite many different courses (I’ve been partly responsible for removing most of my old courses form the current curriculum 😉 ). Many of my courses have been somehow related to the C++ programming language, and I did my PhD thesis on “Concurrent Exception Handling in C++”.

I’ve recently started actively working on C++ standardization, participating in parallelism and exception handling (I’ve been a Finnish expert member of the ISO C++ standardization group JTC 1/SC 22/Wg 21 for some time, but I’ve never had time to really contribute). I’ve just submitted and got feedback from my first C++ standardization proposal, I’ll write another blog post on that soon when I have more time.

On the teaching side, at the moment I’m responsible for two courses, Data structures and algorithms, and Principles of programming languages. I’m also participating on the administrative side of teaching in our university, including curriculum planning, degree program groups, education council (koulutusneuvosto), etc.

On a more personal note, my hobbies are currently mainly photography and taking care of our 4- and 8-year-old kids. Before having kids I also had time for acting and singing, but those have been mainly put on hold for now.

Concept diagram from my PhD thesis

Concept diagram from my PhD thesis, which is also related to the C++ standardization work

 

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Person of the Day: Professor Jari Multisilta

Jari Multisilta has two roles at TUT. In addition to being the director of the University Consortium of Pori (UCPori), he is a part time professor of multimedia. He has been at TUT since 1988, starting as a research assistant at the Computing Center. He was appointed to be the professor of multimedia at TUT in 2001.

Most of Jari’s time is devoted for fostering collaboration between the universities that have B.SC, M.Sc and PhD programs in UCPori, namely TUT, University of Tampere, University of Turku and Aalto University. There are altogether over 1100 students and 160 faculty members in Pori. Since UCPori collaborates closely also with the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK), the higher education collaboration in Pori could be described as an example for Tampere3.

Jari has been doing research on educational technology since 1990’s. He implemented one of the first www based courses on mathematics in the world already in 1994 (Matrix Algebra I) and was establishing the Hypermedia lab to TUT together with professor Seppo Pohjolainen.

Jari is also the associate professor at the faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Before starting as the director at the UCPori, he was the director of the Cicero Learning Network at the University of Helsinki for four years, 2011-2014. During the years, Jari has also been at Stanford University H-STAR institute as a visiting scholar for a few times, altogether 18 months. The experiences from the Silicon Valley has been a great source of inspiration for Jari. He would like to see more of positive attitude, support, sharing of ideas and encouragement among the researcher community.

In addition to academic outcomes, one startup has originated from Jari’s research. The company DiSEL21 Oy was established in 2015, and it is providing a video storytelling platform EdVisto for schools. The idea in EdVisto is that the students can create and share video stories collaboratively with others, and learn thru making content. The EdVisto platform supports for example inquiry learning, that has been introduced also to the Finnish National Core Curricula. Thje EdVisto has been used already in Finland, Greece, California, Spain, China and Singapore so far with students from the pre-school to higher education.

Currently, Jari’s research interests include mobile video storytelling, computational thinking and coding skills, games and gamification. You can find some of Jari’s work from the 2014 published book: Finnish Innovations and Technologies in Schools: A Guide Towards New Ecosystems of Learning edited by Hannele Niemi, Jari Multisilta, Lasse Lipponen and Marianna Vivitsou.

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Person of the Day: Professor Hannu-Matti Järvinen

Professor Hannu-Matti Järvinen is not the oldest member of the laboratory by his age, but he has worked here longer than anybody else of the current faculty, from the first of April, 1983. At that time, he was still a student, and started to write his master’s thesis on remote control systems for electric power plants. On those days, one of the most famous things at TUT were the micromice. He participated in the making of the three newest mice during his studies and even after his graduation.

His interest in technology started in late 1960’s, when he (as an elementary school boy) lived at a railway station. One of the personnel taught him how to operate a railway control board, i.e., turn the switches, set green light to the trains, etc. The system was built of relays, so pressing buttons caused audible clicking from the system room and, finally, the switches turned and the green light was granted. And, which was even more interesting, light turned back to red automatically when the train passed the signal. How was this possible? This made a preteen to find out how digital logic works and how one gets feedback of the position of the trains. The latter was also empirically tested, but not intentionally: one can enforce red light for an express train with a sled.

The first research project he attended was called Asento, Ada Software ENgineering TOols, which was built around the Ada programming language. This project was the reason not to leave the university when he graduated; it was part of the first big programme of TEKES, and it is said the main result of those projects were the researchers themselves, not the other outputs. Later followed DisCo, Distributed Co-operation, a project that produced a set of doctors, Hannu-Matti Järvinen being the first one in 1992. The research area of DisCo is still in his interests: distributed systems, action-orientation, etc.

Hannu-Matti Järvinen has always been interested in teaching, and his first experience in curriculum development comes from 1984, when the new curriculum of information technology was created. Later, in 1997, this interest made him the head of Department of Information Technology until departments were transformed to faculties and institutes to departments. He then worked as the head of the Department of Software Systems until it was merged with other departments. He has had and still has several positions of trust at TUT but also outside TUT.

The interest in teaching opened also a possibility for some doctoral students to make their dissertation on the area of computer engineering education. Currently his interests in research and teaching include educational technology, software testing and architecture, and action-orientation. Perhaps ethics in technology could be added as a new area of interest. He is actively participating in three or four programme committees of annual scientific conferences.

Hannu-Matti Järvinen has several hobbies: genealogy, country home, orienteering, railways, reading, poems, cats. Grandchildren are not a hobby but they and family are very important, too. Beware – if you ask him something about these, you have to be prepared for one hour lecture (minimum) about them.

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Seminars coming up in the spring

The lab is organizing several interesting seminar in the spring, come and join us discussing these contemporary topics:

Computer Graphics: An updated version of the old computer graphics course will return in periods 3 and 4 (Spring 2018) under the “TIE-12206 Post-graduate Seminar on Pervasive Computing” course name. This is a must if you are interested in game programming or have always wondered how 3D models can be converted to images with GPUs. The lectures will cover for example: graphics pipeline, shaders, rasterization, ray tracing, visiting lecture from Colossal Order, etc. The assignment is made with OpenGL/WebGL.  Contact Matias Koskela for more information.

Visualizing Software Development: a hot topic in software development is mining data repositories and developing visualizations from various kinds of software development data to increase visibility of software development processes to different stakeholders. If you’re interested in digging into data produced in the Continuous Deployment pipeline, developing tools to help find bottlenecks in software processes or learning about new visualization techniques, come and join us. This seminar also includes a practical assignment where students will develop small visualizations. This seminar is also arranged under the TIE-12206 Post-graduate Seminar on Pervasive Computing course name in periods 3 and 4. Contact Outi Sievi-Korte for more details.

Both seminars can be found in POP. A couple more seminars are also being planned, more about them later on.

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Suomi Finland 100 celebration

Congratulations Suomi, 100 years!

As a part of the celebration we release a special version of Kactus2 that is available only on Finland’s Independence Day, the 6th December 2017. This limited time edition is available for download here only today. For more information on Kactus2, see our post on the recent release.

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Person of the Day: Prof. Kari Systä

I’m on my second “stint” at  TUT and my cv consists of three parts

  1. 1980-1995 I studied Electrical Engineering and Software Technology, and worked in various research projects. The topics ranged from Ada-language, software visualization to formal methods.
  2. 1995-2011 I worked for Nokia Corporation. The list of technical topics I worked with includes digital TV, mobile Java, REST and Web as an application platform. I also participated in software process initiatives like introduction of Agile processes.
  3. 2011 I returned back to TUT and started as a professor of software engineering.

During these years I have seen tens on programming languages and thousands of technologies and methods – but I’m still searching for the perfect choices. So we still have research challenges.

Teaching

During the last 6 years been teaching the following courses:

  • Introduction to Distributed Systems
  • Introduction to Software Engineering
  • Software Engineering Methodologies (TIE-21106)
  • Software Design (TIE-20200)

The last two courses are under my responsibility during the academic year 2017-2018. In addition, I have been involved with Project Course on Pervasive Systems (TIE-13106) and Demola Project (TST-01606).

Naturally, I have also had and still have numerous master thesis students.

Research

In research I have two main interests:

  • Data Driven Software Engineering: modern developers use several tools that all collect data. It would be extremely interesting to use all that data for optimization and tracking purposes. One major project where I was able to progress with this was Need-for-Speed.
  • Liquid IoT Software. For decades I have been interested in moving code with applications like Liquid Software and programmable IoT devices. In addition, I have a concern of silos in IoT and thus I participate in projects like CityIot and Procem.

Publications

See TUTCRIS or Google Scholar.

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Advent calendar is here!

The highlight of the year, the hottest topic in the coffee room, the source for hollers of success when discovering you beat others to it, the beam of light in these dark December mornings, the coolest way to get your little grey cells activated first thing in the morning..

The Pervasive Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar is here!

The look on the lucky one who got to pry open the very first door and assemble the very first construction of the month says it all.

Outi was the joyful opener of the first door

You lucky earlybirds who find your way to unopened doors first thing in the morning, remember to take a picture of what you put together and tweet with #pervasive_advent –  or send the pic to the pervasive journalists who’ll be happy to do the tweeting for you.

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New Kactus2 release

Kactus2 version 3.5.0 has been released. The latest version features fully updated graphical user interface which better meets the expectations for modern desktop use. We continue our line of work for enabling full design parametrization from the highest level of hierarchy to the smallest design unit at the bottom. New editing options and support for more IP-XACT elements have been added to enable such product configurations. As always, we included a lot of quality-of-life improvements for even better user experience. For full details on the updates, see release notes in GitHub, or get the installer to try it yourself. Kactus2 runs on Linux and Windows.

For those unfamiliar with Kactus2, it is the first graphical open-source design environment targeted especially for embedded system and FPGA design. It was initially released in 2011 as part of a research project in collaboration with multiple companies in the industry and TUT has continued the development ever since. Kactus2 is based on the IP-XACT standard  which is widely accepted in the industry for vendor and tool independent exchange of intellectual properties (IP). Legacy IP can be imported using both Verilog and VHDL file format. Compared to other available tools the distinctive features are graphical user interface, ease of use and visualization of component (i.e. IP) registers and memory maps. Using the new Memory Designer the user can see the whole memory structure of the hierarchical IP in one view. For additional details on Kactus2 and IP-XACT, see the Kactus2 project webpage.

IP components are connected in graphical view of the design in Kactus2.

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