Conference Committee

Call for Participation

Program Highlights

Advance Program



Important Dates


Fort Worth


Day 1   SUNDAY March 23, 2:00 - 6:00 PM

Tutorial 1:  Spray Computers: Explorations in Self-Organization for Pervasive Computing



Tutorial 1
" Spray Computers: Explorations in Self-Organization for Pervasive Computing "

Professor Franco Zambonelli
Dipartimento di Scienze e Metodi dell'Ingegneria
Universita' di Modena e Reggio Emilia Via Allegri 13, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy

Description and Motivation of the Tutorial

Advances in miniaturization, MEMS, wireless communication, and distributed coordination, will make it possible to deploy myriads of small communication-enabled computer-based sensors and actuators in our everyday environments ("smart clouds"). The number of potential applications of this scenario are endless, ranging from smart clothes and intelligent interactive environments to self-assembly materials and self-repairing artifacts. However, for such potentials to be realized, there is the need of novel approaches to distributed systems development and management.

On the one hand, to avoid the unaffordable efforts related to the placement, configuration, and maintainance of such systems, there is the need of approaches enabling of deploying components via, say, a spray-like process, and let them self-organize their activities and self-retune their overall behavior depending on specific contingencies (e.g., localized faults and environmental changes).

On the other hand, the autonomous and decentralized nature of the activities in such scenarios, together with the possibly unpredictable dynamics of the operating environments, is likely to make those systems exhibit unexptected, "emergent" behaviours - as recent observations in other types of decentralized networks suggest. Therefore, there is also the need of appropriate methodologies to predict and control the emergence of such behaviours and, when possible, offensively exploit them for the achievement of otherwise impossible complex distributed tasks.

The tutorial aims at exploring the above issues with a strong application-orientation (by showing via practical examples and via simulations where and why the above issues arise) and with a touch of inter-disciplinarity (by analysing potentially-related research findings in different areas).

To this end, the tutorial is organized as follow.

  • it introduces the possible future application scenarios, as suggested by a brief survey of several recent advances in microelectronics, communication, and software technology.
  • it introduces the cloak of invisibility as a challenging case study, and exploit it as a way to survey and analyse a relevant number of issues and technologies in self-organization (i.e., self-localization, routing in dynamic amorphous networks, fault-tolerance, spontaneous re-organizations).
  • it introduces the concept of emergent behaviors in complex networks, by analysing the most relevant examples and by discussing the implications for pervasive computing scenarios.
  • it briefly analyses open issues and promising research directions.

The tutorial will give attendees a broad perspective on the state of the art both in the area of self-organization technologies/applications (as they pertain to pervasive computing) and in those areas (such as network sciences, macroecology, complex systems) which are most likely to impact on future researches in the area.

Level of the Tutorial

Introductory. No background knowledge required.

Detailed Outline of the Tutorial

  • Introduction
  • A Scenario of 2027
    • identification of a set of possible (futuristics and visionary) applications
  • Enabling Technologies, The State of the Art in:
    • MEMS and smart dusts
    • wireless communications
    • distributed coordination
    • self-organization and networks science
  • A Case Study: The Cloak of Invisibility
    • the invisible wall: overview, hardware and software issues, related applications
    • the spray of invisibility: overview, hardware and software issues, related applications
    • the invisible fabric: overview, hardware and software issues, related applications
  • Break
  • From Self-Organization to Emergent Organization
    • what is emergence?
    • self-organization vs. emergent organization
    • examples of emergence: social networks, wide-area networks, and macroecological systems
    • demos and simulations
    • the case of pervasive computing networks: experiences and speculations
    • defending from emergence
    • exploiting emergence: intelligent paintings, self-assembly materials, optimization networks, robust networks
  • Open Research Directions + Conclusions + Questions
    • distributed intelligence and multiagent systems
    • programming-level support for self-organizing systems and for spray computers
    • general-purpose methodologies
  • In the Slides:
    • pointers to relevant literature
    • pointers to relevant research projects

About the Lecturer

Franco Zambonelli is professor in Computer Science at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, since 2001. He obtained the Laurea degree in Electronic Engineering in 1992, and the PhD in Computer Science in 1997, both from the University of Bologna.

His current research interests include: distributed and pervasive computing, multiagent systems, agent-oriented software engineering. In these areas, he has published over 90 papers in international fora, co-edited five books, and has been invited speaker in several workshops and conferences.

He is member of the management committee of the European Network of Excellence "Agentlink II" and, within the same network, coordinator of the Special Interest Group on "Methodologies and Software Engineering for Agent Systems". He is a member of IEEE, ACM, AIIA, and TABOO.



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