ICSE 2024 – The 46th International Conference on Software Engineering

This week Centro Cultural de Belém is hosting what is considered to be the leading international software engineering conference, ICSE 2024 – The 46th International Conference on Software Engineering. Since 1975, ICSE has provided a forum where researchers, professionals and members of academia come together to present and discuss the latest innovations, trends, experiences and issues in the field of software engineering.

From 14 to 20 April, the CCB will host Keynotes, Workshops, Symposia, Technical Sessions, Tutorials, Poster Sessions and many other activities in its auditoriums and numerous rooms, in a programme that will explore topics such as ethics, reliability in Artificial Intelligence systems, inclusion, biases in software, energy efficiency or algorithms applied to software engineering, among many others.

The main speakers are “prominent figures in the field of Software Engineering, chosen for their significant contributions to science and industry and who are at the forefront of research, innovation or leadership in the field”. Carol Smith (Principal researcher SEI/CMU) will address the topic of ethics and trustworthiness in AI systems; Rupak Majumdar (Scientific Director, Max-Planck Institute for Software Systems) will analyze the challenges and opportunities in Model Checking Large-scale Distributed Systems; Soumith Chintala (VP Fellow at Meta AI), inventor of PyTorch, will explore the unique properties of the latest generative AI systems; Martin Rinard (Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will raise questions about the connection between large language models and software engineering.

Other highlights include the presence of Bertrand Meyer, a French academic who created the Eiffel programming language in the 1980s, Alexander Serebrenik, whose research aims to facilitate the evolution of software, taking into account the social aspects of software development, Luís Cruz, a PhD from MAP.i, working at Delft University of Technology in the areas of Sustainable Software Engineering and Green AI, among many others who promise to enrich the event by providing a “comprehensive overview of the multiple facets of Software Engineering, from theory to practice, and opportunities for in-depth learning and peer interaction”.

The conference’s Organising Committee includes several DEI professors and as General Chairs, Ana Paiva and Rui Maranhão Abreu, who are ready to welcome the nearly 2 000 participants arriving in the capital this week.

Alexandra Mendes wins the Atlantic Security Award 2024

The current international situation has reinforced the importance of excellent scientific research to support good security and defence policies in the Atlantic area.

The Atlantic Security Award, which is the result of a partnership between the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), the Atlantic Centre and the National Defence Institute (IDN), is a programme that provides 15,000 euros to two researchers with high-quality research projects that will contribute to the advancement of knowledge on topics related to current challenges in the field of security and defence in the Atlantic area.

Alexandra Mendes, Assistant Professor at DEI/FEUP, was one of the winners of this edition, with the project “Leveraging Large Language Models Trained on Dark Web Data to Support Decision Making for Atlantic Security and Defence“. She sees this achievement as recognition of her professional career and the value of her research project, the aim of which will be to have a model that facilitates the formulation of defence policies, strategies and operations by security forces against cybercrime, illicit trade and other threats facilitated by the dark web in the Atlantic.

Over a period of 8 months in the current year 2024, Alexandra will develop a prototype of a software tool that aims to make use of a Large Language Model (LLM), trained or fine-tuned using large databases with data from the dark web, and from policies relevant to the Atlantic.

“The Award is an important milestone in my career because, besides recognizing my professional journey and the value of my research proposal, it allows me to strengthen my collaboration with colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University,” shares Alexandra Mendes.

This is the third year the prize has been awarded, this year by the following Jury members:

Ana Santos Pinto, Professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at NOVA University Lisbon;

Luís Miguel Escudeiro da Costa Cabral, Atlantic Centre;

Maria Francisca Saraiva, resident researcher at the National Defence Institute.

+ information about the award and the 2 winning projects, of Alexandra Mendes and Jan Stockbruegger, can be seen here.

Incentive Award 2024

For the 14th consecutive year, during the celebration of the 113th anniversary of the University of Porto, the Incentive Award 2024 honoured the best 1st year students from each faculty at U.Porto.

The list of the 22 students who completed their 1st year in 2022/2023 with the best average is headed by four students from the Bachelor in Informatics and Computing Engineering (L.EIC), with Bruno Oliveira having the highest average at the University of Porto, with 19,85 marks. In addition to Bruno, the students Rodrigo Silva (19,2 marks), Gabriela Silva (19,05 marks) and Tiago Torres (18,9 marks) are also on the list of the best U.Porto students.

Let’s get to know them a little better:

Bruno Oliveira has always been interested in programming, so studying Computer Engineering was always a certainty. The prestige of the University of Porto and the testimony of former students, as well as the proximity of his home, made L.EIC the right choice for the student from Vila Nova de Gaia. From his first-year experience, the young student highlights the pleasant atmosphere and the support for new students, as well as the availability of the teachers to help students.

Rodrigo Silva, from Cortegaça, loves “facing problems and challenges” and being able to do so with people who share his tastes and interests made group work one of the most memorable experiences of his first year. The student emphasises his personal growth, advising future students to be persistent and resilient, never giving up in the face of adversity.

Gabriela Silva highlights the prestige of the University of Porto, its proximity to her home and the variety of training on offer in her “area of interest” as the main reasons that led her to join L.EIC. The student gives a very positive assessment of her first year, emphasising “the climate of unity” between teachers and students.

Tiago Torres always knew he wanted to be a computer engineer. That certainty, combined with the prestige and geographical proximity of the University of Porto, made L.EIC an obvious choice. The student, from Valongo, was very “positively surprised” by the knowledge he acquired in his first year, as well as the spirit of mutual help among the students, not only from the same year, but also from subsequent years and even from other courses. For future students, Tiago emphasises the importance of time management, so that they can have “a balance between studying and having fun”.

The Incentive Award, awarded annually since 2010, is an individual monetary prize corresponding to the value of the annual tuition fee applied to U.Porto’s national students.

“Synthetic data for a better understanding of models and algorithms” by Carlos Soares

The generation of synthetic data has gained a lot of relevance, particularly to provide more data for learning models, for example with GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), which are effective and have a relatively simple implementation method, making them one of the most widely used methodologies for generating synthetic data. However, (semi-)synthetic data is also relevant to an even more important task, which is to improve our understanding of the behaviour of ML (Machine Learning) models and algorithms.

Carlos Soares, Professor at DEI and researcher in this area, invited by the Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro (Italy) to integrate a doctoral jury, also gave in this institution a seminar on March 26th entitled “Synthetic data for a better understanding of models and algorithms“, addressing  limitations of current research practices in Machine Learning /AI, describing some of the work underway at FEUP with the aim of improving these practices, within the scope of projects such as the Center for Responsible AI and AISym4Med.



NCGM at the 10th edition of Comic Con Portugal

Exponor recently hosted the 10th edition of Comic Con Portugal, the “biggest Iberian Pop Culture event”, that took place March 21-24.  The 200,000 square metres hosted stands and aficionados for whom comic books are no longer enough and who therefore eagerly await this great cosplay festival every year to “be whatever they want”.

In this edition, NCGM – Núcleo de Computação Gráfica e Multimédia was invited to be part of the programme and took to the Gaming Stage on the 22nd to answer the question: “How do you start a career in the video games industry?“.

António Matos, member of NECM and leader of Game Dev Meets, Teresa Matos, Developer at Mindera Gaming and invited Professor at DEI, and André Oliveira Santos, Cinematic Artist at Saber Interactive Porto, shared the stage and debated the most effective methods of entering the video game development industry, particularly for young people. Topics such as acquiring basic skills in the area, the importance of building a network of contacts, enabling the formation of an appropriate team, putting together a solid portfolio and even receiving and interpreting feedback, especially when it’s unfavorable, dominated the conversation, which also discussed the current state of the video game production industry in Portugal and the strategies a new developer can adopt to increase the visibility of their work in the eyes of the public and be recognised by the established companies in the sector.

We asked Teresa Matos what advice she would give to anyone who wants to start a career in the field, and her answer was assertive: “Having a degree is undoubtedly relevant, but it’s vital to start creating connections in the area, even if only within the institution itself. Participating in game jams and other similar events, having a portfolio with complete projects (even if they’re online tutorials) and attending game dev meets where people from the industry are usually present, are essential first steps.”

NCGM shared with us its enthusiasm about their participation which is reflected on a post in social media: “Finally, we would like to thank COMIC CON PORTUGAL OFICIAL and the Portuguese Game Developers Association for this opportunity, as well as everyone who attended the session. We hope we can continue our work of supporting small game developers and creating the means for exposure and networking.”

Also in this edition of Comic Con Portugal, we would like to highlight the participation of Rui Rodrigues, Professor at DEI, in Podcast 90 segundos de Ciência on the subject of “The Science of Video Games“, which will be available soon on the programme’s platform: https://www.90segundosdeciencia.pt.

Best Paper Award in PROPOR 2024

The best scientific paper at PROPOR 2024The 16th International Conference on Computational Processing of Portuguese, is Portuguese and has DEI DNA. “Across the Atlantic: Distinguishing Between European and Brazilian Portuguese Dialects” was co-authored by David Preda (M.EIC), Tomás Osório (ProDEI) and Henrique Lopes Cardoso (DEI) and earned the distinction at what is considered to be the main scientific meeting in the area of language and speech technologies for the Portuguese/Galician language.

This year’s meeting was hosted by the University of Santiago de Compostela from 12 to 15 March, thus also opening up this biannual event, which has so far been held between Portugal and Brazil, to Galicia.

David Preda, lead author of the article and a final year student on the Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering, shares that this was the first conference he had attended and it couldn’t have been a more rewarding and enriching experience, not only because of the variety and high quality of the papers presented, but also because of the interaction between participants with great cultural differences but united by a common language.

The student also shares that it was during the first year of his master’s degree that he asked to join the weekly meetings with the researchers at LIACC who focus on NLP, led by Prof. Henrique Lopes Cardoso, which was an opportunity to research in the area and carry out more exploratory work, the type of project he particularly enjoys, resulting in this article.

David is now developing his master’s thesis under the guidance of Luis Filipe Teixeira and Isabel Rio-Torto (DEI), focusing on Computer Vision (CV) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the medical domain, and will try to explore ways in which the connection between the vision and language domains can improve performance and/or reduce the amount of data needed and possibly apply the developed strategies to other fields, such as medical imaging.

As for the future, the final year student still sees it undefined but believes that it won’t be in Portugal and that it will, in one way or another, involve Artificial Intelligence with a focus on the textual domain.

SEMINÁRIO | “Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity: The (lack of) security of Machine Learning models” by João Vitorino

There are several technological and ethical challenges that undermine the trustworthiness of Machine Learning. One of the main challenges is the lack of robustness, which is an essential property to ensure that ML models are used in a secure way. Improving robustness is no easy task because the models are inherently susceptible to adversarial examples: data samples with subtle perturbations that cause unexpected behaviors. ML engineers and security practitioners still lack the knowledge and tools to prevent such disruptions, so adversarial examples pose a major threat to ML and to the intelligent systems that rely on it.

“Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity: The (lack of) security of Machine Learning models” will be presented by João Vitorino (ProDEI student), March 21, at 14:00, room I -115.

Short Bio:

João Vitorino is a researcher at GECAD, an R&D unit of ISEP, and a PhD candidate at FEUP, in the Doctoral Program in Informatics Engineering. He holds a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence Engineering, in addition to several certifications in the fields of AI and computer networking. He has collaborated with various companies and institutions in international R&D projects, and has been responsible for the conceptualization and development of AI solutions for several real-world cybersecurity applications.
The focus of his work has been adversarial robustness in complex tabular data domains. He has developed an intelligent method that performs realistic adversarial attacks, and training mechanisms that provide secure ML models for complex tasks like cyber-attack classification. João was awarded the “2023 Outstanding MSc Thesis Award”, by IEEE Portugal Section. His thesis “Realistic Adversarial Machine Learning to improve Network Intrusion Detection” analyses the robustness of machine learning algorithms and proposes the “AP2M – Adaptive Perturbation Pattern Method”.

“Bad Seeds” qualify for the final stage of the Bosch Future Mobility Challenge

The week ended with the exciting news that Bad Seeds qualified for the Bosch Future Mobility Challenge 2024. Of the 80 teams that took part, only 24 were selected to move on to the next stage of the competition, the semi-finals/finals, which will be held from 15 to 19 May in Romania.

The team, formed by L.EIC students Félix Martins, Pedro Madureira, Rita Lopes, Sofia Pinto, M.EIC student, Guilherme Sequeira, and DEI Professor, Alexandra Mendes, performed “exceptionally well” and impressed the jury with their “dedication, hard work and creativity”.

BFMC2024 is an international technical competition started by the Bosch Engineering Centre Cluj-Napoca in 2017. Every year teams of bachelor’s and master’s students are invited to develop autonomous driving and connectivity algorithms in 1/10th scale vehicles (such as lane keeping, navigating junctions, reacting to traffic lights, navigating based on location data and, of course, reacting to other traffic participants such as other cars or pedestrians), provided by the company, to navigate in a designated environment that simulates a miniature smart city.

The students work on their projects in collaboration with Bosch experts and teachers over several months to develop the best-performing algorithms. The best teams are selected for the finals and the 3 winners will be awarded a cash prize of €7000, €5000 and €3000 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

There will also be a €1000 prize for the best first time team, and highlights for the team elected by the public and the team with the best presence in social media.

Romania’s third largest city and one of the main academic, cultural, industrial and commercial centres of this country, which is considered by many to be the most enigmatic in Europe, will welcome the Bad Seeds with open arms and we can only wish them an excellent result in the competition and, above all, that it will be an unforgettable experience!




“Solutions R Us” and “InfoExperts” in the podium of EBEC Challenge Porto 2024

The 16th edition of the EBEC Challenge – European BEST Engineering Competition Challenge, took place at FEUP on February 24 and 25 2024, with mandatory preparatory training the week before. Dozens of teams made up of students from FEUP and FCUP designed a prototype in 24 hours, putting their creativity, problem-solving skills and teamwork to the test.

This competition is divided into two categories, Case Study (a theoretical test where a real company problem is given to solve) and Innovative Design (a practical test where the main objective is to build a prototype, with a limited number of materials and at low cost), and it was in the latter that the team “Solutions R Us“, composed of four 2nd year students from the Bachelor in Informatics and Computing Engineering, achieved the 1st place.

Afonso Machado, Bruno Aguiar, Francisco Fernandes and Lara Coelho took on the challenge of creating an attraction for an amusement park and built a prototype of an attraction with the theme of games of chance, such as casino roulette and russian roulette, adding suspense to the fun. The attraction spins, like a roulette wheel, and one of the sections is then lifted at random, leaving the participants almost in an horizontal position.

“The biggest challenge was to idealise and design our prototype taking into account our basic idea and some material limitations. We wanted it to be something original and different from today’s common attractions,” Lara Coelho tells us about the challenge which, in her words, “was overcome thanks to teamwork, high spirits and enthusiasm!”. The team ends their testimony by saying that what they enjoyed most were the moments of conviviality that this experience gave them, the friendliness of the other competitors and those in charge, and the satisfaction of seeing the result of their work, which made them very proud.

It was also with great pride that Amanda Tartarotti, Leonardo Garcia, Pedro Castro and Sara Cortez, the “InfoExperts“, L.EIC’s 2nd year students, won 2nd place in the Case Study category. The challenge consisted of presenting theoretical solutions to two problems placed on the spot: the first was about managing the reconstruction of a war-torn city in a sustainable way and the second was about developing a compression system for hydrogen fuel cells. According to Sara Cortez, the latter was really challenging because it wasn’t related to informatics, which made the result even more rewarding. Sara adds, “I’m immensely grateful for the amazing people in my team and for our proud second place”.

The EBEC Challenge Iberia, which would take the winning teams from the local rounds in Portugal and Spain to a grand final, will not be held this year, as happened last year with the “magic FoRMula” team, which after winning 1st place in the Porto competition, achieved 2nd place in this Iberian competition.

Since the 2013/2014 academic year, the EBEC Challenge Porto has been credited with 1,5 ECTS as a 40,5 hour training course.

Photo: BEST Porto

DEI TALKS | “A Survey of Tasks Derived from or Related to Natural Language Inference” by Prof. Martin Víta

“Natural language inference (recognizing textual entailment task in the past) belongs to the most prominent tasks in current NLP, it is a keystone of natural language understanding. NLI can be stated as a classification task whether a given hypothesis can be inferred from a  given premise. In this talk, we are going introduce a large variety of tasks accompanied by illustrative examples and review corresponding state-of-the-art results. This talk may serve as starting point for anyone who want to apply new approaches and models to investigate these not so much known tasks (as well as apply them in downstream applications).”

A Survey of Tasks Derived from or Related to Natural Language Inference” will be presented February 23, at 17:00, room I 025, moderated by Prof. Carlos Soares (DEI).

Martin Víta graduated at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University in Prague in the field of discrete models and algorithms. Later, he obtained PhD degree at the Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University in Brno in natural language processing. Currently, he serves as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Informatics and Statistics, Prague University of Economics and Business where he teaches mathematics and text analytics. He is also a researcher at Czech Academy of Sciences where he focuses in ML and text mining topics.”