Efficient algorithms and data structures are basic requirements for demanding computer applications in all areas of daily life.
The main goal of algorithm research at the Department of Informatics is a systematic development of efficient algorithms for convenient solutions, which at the same time provide theoretical performance guarantees in areas that used to show gaps between theory and practice. Here, the focus is, amongst other things, on graph algorithms, algorithmic geometry, and distributed and parallel algorithms.
Algorithm engineering is centered around a cycle consisting of designing, analysing, implementing, and experimentally assessing practicable algorithms driven by falsifiable hypotheses. Realistic models for machines and applications, as well as algorithm libraries and collections of real input instances, allow an additional coupling to applications.
Embedded systems – which are usually invisible to the user – are used in many different fields and technical devices, for example in mobile phones or - general - in household and entertainment electronics devices. In many cases, embedded systems are customised for a specific task.
At the Department of Informatics in Karlsruhe, scientists are working on the design, optimisation, and architectures of the next generation of embedded systems under special consideration of ubiquitous system properties.
They are researching low power design processes and low power management as well as Configurable Multi-Processor System-On-Chip (MPSoC) design processes and architectures, their application-learned instruction sets and on-chip networks.
Research in the field of cognitive systems at the Department of Informatics in Karlsruhe is focused on human-centred technologies and applications based on biosignals, for example recording, recognizing, and interpreting language, as well as muscle and brain activity.
In the field 'Speech Recognition', Scientists are developing specialist processes and algorithms that allow for the fast and efficient porting of speech-processing systems to unseen domains and languages.
In addition, we are researching bio-signals of humans and their suitability for intuitive and efficient human-machine-interfaces. We are currently developing various interfaces and applications based on electromyographic, electroenzephalographic, and biomechanical signals.
Communication and Ubiquitous Systems
A superb example for trendsetting informatics research in Telematics is the department's work in the field of 'Mobile Communications.'
Information scientists combine the usage of different networks such as fixed or radio networks, different computer systems, and manifold software components to offer users efficient use of numerous services.
Many cooperating systems provide intelligent and personal assistence features, which can be integrated into basic commodities. These systems are interlinked, interact with their environment, and are connected to existing communication networks.
Research in the area 'Cryptography' is all about trustworthy computer applications that provide security in the use of increasingly complex informatics applications, IT systems, and infrastructures.
Its main task is the design of security protocols from an abstract description to a prototypical implementation. Research has to identify current and future threats, and integrate formal models and mathematical proofs into the complete design process.
Among the important research results of the European Institute for System Security, (E.I.S.S.) at the Department of Informatics are the first smartcard-based access protection to a computer network, or one of the first public key cryptography protocols with key management, and a very early implementation and use of a firewall. All of these technologies are now considered to be standard.
Recent results are the first formal security models that support a modular design while keeping in mind threats such as blackmailing or protocol aborts; the best special hardware design that exists to date for breaking the RSA procedure, and convenient suggestions, such as increasing the security of digital signatures with camera phones.
Logics and Formal Methods
In the research field of "Logics and Formal Methods", the focus is placed both on maintaining this comprehensive tradition that is based on mathematical logics, on developing logical methods and results further, and on applying this to current topics in informatics.
Current field of research include the formal specification and automatic verification of software.
One of the main fields of research at the Department of Informatics in Karlsruhe is Robotics. Robotics is concerned with the mechanical modelling, regulation, and electronic control of robots with a view to using programming to create a controlled collaboration between the electronics and mechanics of robots.
Robotics as a scientific discipline not only includes sub-areas of Informatics (in particular of artifical intelligence) but also the fields of Electronical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Research groups at the Department of Informatics are involved in collaborative research centres of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and numerous industry-related research projects in particular in the areas of Factory Automation, Medical Technology and Humanoid Robotics.
Distributed networks consisting of hundreds or thousands of miniature and automated sensor-actuator systems are set to revolutionise the monitoring and control of distributed phenomena.
Typical areas of application include the supervision of large geographical regions, smart buildings, microscopic sensors and actuators in and on the human body as well as sensors for monitoring devices and machines.
Due to the great number of systems, the required fault and disaster tolerance can even be achieved if the individual sensor-actuator systems only demonstrate a poor reliability and availabilty.
The scientific focus of the research field of 'Sensor-Actuator Networks' is based on the different challenges for the architecture of sensor-actuator networks, their efficient operation, and the collaborative development of systematic approaches and references models.
The field of 'Software Engineering' as an engineering discipline comprises all topics regarding the systematic creation of large software systems and ranges from the design of architecture and development methods, tools and environments to processes ensuring the quality and efficiency of programming and modern methods of data maintenance.
The focus of the research field 'Software Design and Quality' is the close interaction between software architecture, software components, model-driven development and software quality. The central points are processes for the systematic prediction of qualities in software and performance and reliability based on software architecture modells.
The research group »Verification meets Algorithm« at the Institute for Theoretical Informatics deals with quality assurance processes (verification) for hard- and software including the related fundamental field of research (algorithmics).
One of the focuses is the ongoing development of basic logical decision-making processes (e.g. SAT Solving), which are applied at the core of many verification tools. Research topics in this field include the building of new algorithms for problems occuring during practical usage, their adjustment to suit modern hardware architectures (multi-core, grid) and the analysis of the inner structure of these problems.
Another area of focus is the utilization of verification methods for industrial problems (e.g. product configuration, software verification), in particular for the automotive industry.