DEI Talks | ”AutoML and Meta-learning for Neural Network Robustness Verification” by Prof. Jan N. van Rijn, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science

Jan N. van Rijn holds a tenured position as assistant professor at Leiden University (, where he works in the computer science department (LIACS) and Automated Design of Algorithms cluster (ADA).

His research interests include artificial intelligence, automated machine learning (AutoML) and meta-learning.

He obtained his PhD in Computer Science in 2016 at Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), Leiden University (the Netherlands).

During his PhD, he developed, an open science platform for machine learning, enabling sharing of machine learning results.

He made several funded research visits to the University of Waikato (New Zealand) and the University of Porto (Portugal).

After obtaining his PhD, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Machine Learning lab at the University of Freiburg (Germany), headed by Prof. Dr. Frank Hutter, after which he moved to work as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the City of New York (USA). His research aim is to democratize access to machine learning and artificial intelligence across societal institutions, by developing knowledge and tools that support domain experts.

He is one of the authors of the book `Metalearning: Applications to Automated Machine Learning and Data Mining’ (published by Springer).”

AutoML and Meta-learning for Neural Network Robustness Verification” will be presented january the 25th, at 14:45, room B006 – free entrance, all are welcome.

Abstract: Artificial intelligence is being increasingly integrated in modern society, with applications ranging from self-driving cars to medicine development. However, artificial intelligence models (in particular neural networks) have been notoriously known for being susceptible for various forms of attacks, including adversarial attacks. In a bid to make these models more trustworthy, the field of neural network robustness verification aims to determine to which degree a given network is susceptible to such an attack. This is a very time consuming task, that can greatly benefit from the various advances that the Automated Machine Learning and meta-learning community have made.

In this talk, it will be explained the basis of automated machine learning and meta-learning, and the speaker will talk about their research on applying this to robustness verification. He will also explain how the community can further engage in this endevour towards trustworthy artificial intelligence.

Talk a Bit is back for its 11th edition

Talk a Bit is back on January 28th (Saturday), at the FEUP Auditorium, for its 11th edition.

The conference is organized annually by the final year students of the Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering of FEUP and is well known for the quality of its programme and the high number of participants.

This year’s theme will revolve around data, “Data. How it’s created, how it’s stored, how it’s streamed, how it’s processed” and will feature a number of experts who will bring a lot of material to be explored and discussed.

The event programme aims to promote learning, the discussion of ideas and social moments and among the list of speakers we can see João Silveira from Microsoft, Sónia Liquito from Spotify, João Gonçalves and José Costa from Critical Techworks, João Carvalho from Tandhem Esports, Liliana Ferreira from Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, Pedro Dias and Marco Sousa from Zero Zero, Tiago Matos from Jumpseller, (…), who will for sure contribute to another successful edition.

Pre-event (24 to 26 January), an hackaton will be hosted with great prizes for the winners.

All the information and the registration link can be seen here.

Ana Inês Barros and Diana Freitas distinguished with an E-REDES Merit Scholarship

E-REDES Top Women Scholarship is a scholarship programme aimed at rewarding young women finalists of Masters in the areas of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, with the aim of encouraging an increase in the number of women opting for the technology sector, where gender imbalances still persist.

“We are committed to promoting full participation and equal opportunities in our organization, but also to supporting and extending to other technological areas” can be read on the website of E-Redes, the main electricity distribution grid operator in mainland Portugal for high, medium and low voltage grids.

In a public ceremony on December 6th, the 15 winners of the 1st edition of the program were known at Central Tejo, in Lisbon, where the students of the Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering, Ana Inês Oliveira de Barros and Diana Cristina Amaral de Freitas are included.

Talking to Ana Inês she told us that she wasn’t expecting the news that she had won this award. “I was very happy to see my commitment and work being recognised and it is an honour to be among the best engineering students. Being one of the winners of this edition motivates me to continue to show my worth as a woman in engineering. I am also excited for the future, to get to know E-Redes better, the rest of the winners and to finally start my career as an engineer at FEUP. I am ready and motivated to develop new ideas that contribute to the engineering area and I would like to thank E-Redes and my family, friends and teachers that supported and helped me along this path”, shares the student that soon will start the final phase of the master with a dissertation in the software engineering area.

Diana Freitas, also a 2nd year M.EIC student, shares that being one of the winners of the E-Redes Top Women Scholarship is an incentive to continue to fight for her academic and professional goals. “This small achievement was the result of continuous effort and also the helpfulness of teachers to clarify questions and the spirit of peer-to-peer help. This award in particular reflects the potential of women in the technology sector, where I believe our skills, opinion and working method are still not properly valued. It also gives me the chance to take part in a mentoring programme, which can help me prepare for the next stage”, she says enthusiastically.

All the winners of this prize, which has a pecuniary value of 2 thousand euros and the opportunity to participate in mentoring and internship programmes, can be found here.

Ruas do Género – a visual essay on the representation of gender in the toponymy of Porto

“Toponymy is not a simple detail or arbitrary process: it is made of political and ideological choices that reinforce hegemonic narratives. It is necessary to reflect on them.” – this is the sentence that closes the description of the project Ruas do Género (Streets of Gender), a visual essay on the representation of gender in the toponymy of the city of Porto, developed by two alumni of the Integrated Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering of FEUP, João Bernardo Narciso and Cláudio Lemos, and that can, and deserves, to be explored: Ruas do Género (

This project clearly shows us the overwhelming difference in gender representations in the streets of Porto where 44% are named after men and only 4% are named after women! But not only the number of streets named after women is 11 times smaller than those named after men, but the importance and extension of these streets is also reduced. After organizing them by gender, the researchers come to the conclusion that “not only are women under-represented, but those who name almost all the most prominent streets are saints. Removing the religious and dynastic figures, there remains a minority of streets named after women of letters, artists, teachers, an engineer and a scientist.”

With this work, which shows us the reality not only through numbers but also through visual representation, they hope that future decision making will be facilitated, allowing a greater gender and social representation of the various generations as well as valuing legacies that do not deserve to be forgotten.

“When representation is so unequal and we continue to have streets that pay homage to heroes of the fascist regime or heroes of colonialism instead of representing today’s society, we are choosing badly,” João and Cláudio conclude in a recent interview given to Público.

The project received an honorable mention in The Pudding Cup -The best visual and data-driven stories of 2022 and promises to give more to talk about.

Photo: Adriano Miranda, Jornal Público

Luis Paulo Reis re-elected LIACC Director for the triennium 2023-25

Luis Paulo Reis, DEI’s Associate Professor with Aggregation, was unanimously reelected last January 3rd as Director of LIACC – Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at the University of Porto.

Beside him will be Henrique Lopes Cardoso (FEUP), Mário Florido (FCUP), Brígida Mónica Faria (IPP) and José Cascalho (UAc), the new Board of Directors of this research laboratory based at FEUP, resulting from elections held on 19 and 20 December.

It is with enthusiasm and optimism that the new team faces the challenges that are expected to be many in the triennium 2023-25, at a time when the discussion about the impacts of Artificial Intelligence in the economy and society runs at the pace of its rapid development.

Luis Paulo Reis, who is also president of APPIA – Portuguese Association for Artificial Intelligence, has no doubts that with the increasingly widespread use of AI in various sectors of society, “we are taking a step as relevant as the industrial revolution”, something that may be similar to the transport revolution that began with the invention of the steam locomotive, “not in a literal sense, but in the impact it may cause in society”. In a recent interview for jornal i on the “Artificial Intelligence Revolution”, he shares his vision on the inevitability of the disappearance of certain types of jobs and believes that with “artificial intelligence it will be possible to reduce in a generalized way most of the State’s costs”, foreseeing “a reduction in the number of civil servants and a reduction in public spending, which could contemplate all types of sectors, from transport to health and the administrative area”, which will be ensured by a partially automated State body. He anticipates that “allocating surplus capital to improve State infrastructures, creating new support and monetary incentives for citizens, investing in areas of interest, such as culture, and ultimately, enabling each citizen to perform tasks of their interest, which will boost creativity and imagination” will increase citizens’ quality of life across the board.

And it is with this ultimate purpose that LIAAC R&D intends to continue investing in the areas of Health and Well-being, Smart Cities and Mobility, Innovative and Sustainable Industry/Services, Public Administration and Governance, Infrastructures and Highly Connected Society and Entertainment/Games.

Being now part of LASI – Intelligent Systems Associate Laboratory, the largest Associated Laboratory in Portugal that includes 13 R&D institutions and more than 500 researchers with PhD, will allow LIACC to increase its critical mass, funding and internationalization, and continue to develop one of its main goals, the creation of sustainable and inclusive innovation for society, improving applications, materials and products and using advanced technologies of intelligent systems, providing high levels of accuracy, performance and adaptation over time.

Henrique Silva is one of the winners of FLAD’s R&D@USA scholarships

FLAD – Luso-American Development Foundation, within the scope of its R&D@USA scholarship programme, 2022 edition, has selected 14 candidates to go to the United States for research internships at different American institutions. Among the selected candidates is Henrique Diogo Cardoso da Silva, a student in the Doctoral Programme in Digital Media who, under the guidance of Prof. António Lucas Soares (DEI) and Prof. Donna Rhodes (MIT), is developing the thesis entitled “Towards a Digital-Twin Based, Multi-sided Market of Data-enabled Product-Services Systems“.

His application serves his ongoing Ph.D. where he is developing the concept of the digital twin as the core architectural element for a platform for managing the entire product/service lifecycle that happens intra-organizationally and the data and information necessary to generate an inter-organizational market.

“Adopting a sociotechnical perspective of both digital twin and digital platform development and implementation, this scholarship will allow me to further cooperate with MIT’s Sociotechnical Systems Research Center researchers to (1) serve as the point of contact between US companies that have integrated digital twin technologies into their product’s life cycle to serve as case studies; and (2) as experts in sociotechnical systems, collaborate on the analysis of the case studies data. The results of which are planned as one of my core PhD publications, elaborating on the broader consequences of case outcomes for future digital twin platform development and their implications for our vision”, tells us Henrique excited with the trip to Boston scheduled for next January.

These grants, financed by FLAD, are designed for research internships in the USA for master’s students, doctoral students, and junior researchers (with a PhD for no longer than 3 years) from Portuguese institutions, to contribute to the strengthening of the Portuguese academic and scientific community with institutions in the USA.

These internships, with a duration of 4 months or over, focus on innovative scientific or technological issues, while also contributing to a greater alignment between Portuguese and American institutions in hope of reinforcing the knowledge network shared by the two countries and thus facilitating the creation of institutional partnerships.

Prize Prof. Dr. Raul Vidal/Deloitte awarded in its 1st edition

As part of the “Comemoração Novos Mestres 2022”, which took place on 26 November in the Faculty of Engineering Auditorium, the Prof. Raul Vidal/Deloitte Prize was awarded in its first edition.

The Jury awarded the prize to Cláudia Raquel Botelho Sobral Mamede, a recent graduate of the Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering, who received a cash prize of €3000.

This award is intended to distinguish annually a recent graduate of one of the following FEUP courses: Master in Informatics and Computer Engineering (M.EIC) and Master in Software Engineering (MESW), who has distinguished themselves in curricular activities, by the quality and innovation of the work carried out within the scope of Software Engineering, and by activities of support to students and of a social and solidarity nature.

The Award was proposed by Deloitte, with the support of FEUP, through DEI, in order to honor the Professor Emeritus of the U.Porto as recognition of all his work in the service of FEUP in the area of computer science, which has resulted in the projection of FEUP nationally and internationally and the preparation of high quality of their students for the labor market, making the FEUP is unquestionably one of the leading schools with a teaching of excellence in technology.

“It is with pride that Deloitte supports the academic environment with the attribution of this Merit Award, by the hands of our partner Nuno Carvalho. This recognition reflects the projection of the faculty at national and international level and the quality of students for the labour market” can be read in a recent post on the company’s social media.

“Perpetuating this recognition by awarding a prize to a student of the Department of Computer Engineering (DEI), will be a way to continue to transmit values so dignifying and differentiating that so well characterize the values advocated by the DEI and to which Prof. Doutor Raul Vidal has actively contributed so much” says the regulation of this award that can be read in full here:


“How do Java mutation tools differ?” featured in December’s Communications of the ACM

December’s edition of the main ACM magazine, “Communications of the ACM”, highlights the article “How do Java mutation tools differ?”, published by a team of researchers from Portugal, Italy and USA namely Domenico Amalfitano, Ana C. R. Paiva, Alexis Inquel, Luís Pinto, Anna Rita Fasolino and René Just.

This article characterizes empirical studies that analyze and compare Java mutation tools based on a rapid review of the research literature. It proposes a framework for comparing mutation tools, considering five dimensions: Tool version; deployment; mutation process; user-centric features; and mutation operators. Additionally, it applies the  framework on eight Java mutation testing tools to highlight their similarities and differences.

The full article and the abstract in video format can be seen here; Ana Paiva, Associate Professor at DEI and co-author of the article, classifies it as having been a very “challenging, intense and interesting work”.

Communications of the ACM is the leading print and online publication for the computing and information technology fields. Read by computing’s leading professionals worldwide is recognized as the most trusted and knowledgeable source of industry information for today’s computing professional.

Following the traditions of the Communications print magazine, which each month brings its readership of over 100,000 ACM members in-depth coverage of emerging areas of computer science, new trends in information technology, and practical applications, the Communications website brings topical and informative news and material to computing professionals each business day. ACM’s membership includes the IT industry’s most respected leaders and decision makers. Industry leaders have for more than 50 years used the monthly Communications of the ACM magazine as a platform to present and debate various technology implications, public policies, engineering challenges, and market trends.

The pwngwins team reaches 2nd place in the CTFs competition at BSides Lisbon conference

It was last November 10th, in Lisbon, that the pwngwings team, formed by the 1st year students of M.EIC, Eunice Amorim, Lucas Calvet Santos, José Pedro Ferreira and Sara Marinha, reached the 2nd place in the CTF competition at the Bsides Lisbon 22 conference. When they heard about this competition and the conference from Professor João Pedro Dias, teaching Large Scale Software Development in this Masters’ Degree, the students were curious and excited and went ahead with the registration in the CTF competition that consisted in two parts: the online qualifiers and the CTF event on the first day of the conference, in Lisbon. And it was on this day, against the remaining 9 qualified teams, that pwngwings achieved the excellent result.

Lucas Santos tells us that “participating in this conference was a very enriching experience. Cybersecurity is an area that has always been of special interest to me, and we had the unique opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with several professionals in the field, in a more informal environment, as well as to attend extremely interesting lectures, which touched on new subjects, not covered in our academic path. Furthermore, it was gratifying that we achieved 2nd place in the CTF competition, which took place during the event and proved to be quite challenging.”

Eunice, another of the members of this team even considers that the opportunity was “a real dream”. “Observing that the competition was mostly professionals in the field, it became even more gratifying that we made it. We are very happy and want to continue to bring these joys to our faculty! We thank all the teachers who supported us so that all this was possible!” tells us the student who sees herself working in the future in the area of cybersecurity or microprocessors/iot.

BSidesLisbon is presented as the reference conference in the area of computer security in Portugal. “Participation in this event is an added value for all workers and students in technological areas, as it gives a practical – and technical – view of the type of risks we face today, as well as the existing defense and protection mechanisms” comments João Pedro Dias on the students’ participation in the competition. “The event’s CTF (Capture the Flag) competition appeals not only to the technical, but also to the creative side of the participants in how to overcome security protections and find flaws in systems, and as such I congratulate the pwngwings team for their excellent performance in it!”

+ info on Capture The Flag and bSidesLisbon

IEEE Portugal Awards 2022

IEEE UP Student Branch is once again one of the winners of the IEEE Regional Exemplary Student Branch Award.

Every year the IEEE Portugal Section awards the members that have stood out the most for their valuable contribution to its activities and mission. These awards measure and recognise the impact of its members during the previous year. In the 2022 edition the IEEE Student Branch of the University of Porto receives the IEEE Regional Exemplary Student Branch Award, a recognition that has been repeated due to the consistent dedication of its constituents.

Through the numerous activities it promotes, this student group was recognized as having an exemplary performance, offering its members and the community where they are inserted, numerous opportunities for development of technical skills and personal development through its various groups: Computer Society, Robotics and Automation Society, Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society and Women in Engineering.

The current President of the student group, Manuel Cerqueira da Silva, tells us that “as a member that contributed to the achievement of this award and as current president I feel an enormous pride in seeing our work recognised. For me, receiving this award is special because it is proof that with our commitment, even in the most difficult moments, we managed to maintain the level of excellence. Thus, I intend to continue this project, strengthening the connection with other nuclei and associations of the University of Porto in order to reach higher levels and contribute to the student community.”

It is also with great pride that Guilherme Barcelos, responsible for the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society, received the news: “When I found out that we received the award for another year in a row I was very happy, but at the same time I felt that this was expected. Our core has always maintained its level of excellence since many years, we went through the pandemic and we are still here strong and full of energy to do even more. So with the work done by the boards, plus the commitment of our members, this award becomes well deserved. As a member for years, it makes me very happy to see our cluster shine and bring out the best in all of engineering!”

In addition to this group recognition, several other awards were given this year, namely to computer and computer engineering graduates, José Miguel Simões with the Outstanding Student Member Award, in recognition of exemplary performance as Student Section Representative, and Pedro Simeão Carvalho, with the Special Recognition Award, in recognition of exemplary performance as Member of the IEEE Portugal Section Executive Committee from 2016 to 2021.

José Miguel Simões, recent M.EIC graduate, winner of the Outstanding Student Member Award, shares what seems to be the general feeling of those who are part of this group:

“I usually say that joining IEEE was the best decision of my entire university life. It’s not a lie. I know it more and more. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t done it. In IEEE, the goal was never the awards. The goal was never to be better than the others, but always to be better than myself, always to help those who were, and are, with me to reach their highest peak. The goal has always been personal overcoming, combined with providing a multitude of activities to an entire academic community.”

+ More info on the activities of this nucleus at: