FEUPSal conquers the U.Porto Staff Cup

The Pavilion Prof. Dr. Galvão Telles was the stage for the final of the U.Porto Staff Cup 2023, in a night that was of celebration for FEUPSal, when beating the FMUP team by 1-0.

The FEUP Futsal team (currently composed by teachers, technicians and researchers), has 3 players from DEI, Amílcar Fernandes, João Pedro Dias and Pedro Miguel Silva, who highlighted the team spirit and sportsmanship that is lived in so many nights of play and that culminates now in a great achievement.

Pedro Silva, author of the only goal scored at 18 minutes of the first half, tells us that “it was a balanced game but FEUPSal team had greater control. Until the final whistle, there were several opportunities for both teams, but the result remained unchanged”.

FEUPSal thus won its first Cup, after being defeated in the previous finals in 2017 and 2019. On April 17, the FEUPSal team will take the field again, this time for the Championship final against the UP Inter team.

Rui Maranhão takes office as Director of ProDEI

On April 4thRui Filipe Lima Maranhão de Abreu, Full Professor at DEI, took office as the new Director of the Doctoral Program in Informatics Engineering.

Prof. Rui Maranhão (publishes as Rui Abreu) holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science – Software Engineering from the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, and a M.Sc. in Computer and Systems Engineering from the University of Minho, Portugal. His research revolves around software quality, with emphasis in automating the testing and debugging phases of the software development life-cycle as well as self-adaptation. Dr. Abreu has extensive expertise in both static and dynamic analysis algorithms for improving software quality. He is the recipient of 6 Best Paper Awards, including a Distinguished Paper Award at ESEC/FSE 2019, and his work has attracted considerable attention. Before joining FEUP as a Full Professor, he was an Associate Professor at IST, U.Lisbon and a member of the Model-Based Reasoning group at PARC’s System and Sciences Laboratory and an Assistant Professor at the University of Porto. He has co-founded DashDash in January 2017, a platform to create web apps using only spreadsheet skills. The company has secured $9M in Series A funding in May 2018. He was a Visiting Researcher at Google NYC between 2019 and 2020, working on building systems and tools to increase the security of C/C++ codebases.

DEI Talks | “At the intersection of job quality and innovation” by Prof. Christopher Mathieu

At the intersection of job quality and innovation” will be presented on Wednesday, April the 12that 14:30, room B021, moderated by Prof. António Coelho from DEI.

By the author:

“The link between innovation and job quality is increasingly elaborated in empirical studies (Duhautois, et al. 2020; Laursen & Foss 2014; Mathieu & Boethius 2021, 2022; Muñoz de Bustillo, et al. 2022). Job quality has been found to be linked to both the generation of innovations as well as the implementation of externally generated innovations at the workplace level. This presentation examines the mechanisms and cumulative factors behind these processes drawing primarily from a Horizon 2020 project (quinne.eu) examining the generative relationship between job quality and innovation in nine industries, from computer games to healthcare, across the EU (Mathieu & Boethius 2021, 2022).”

Chris Mathieu is a sociologist of work and organization at the Department of Sociology, Lund University. From 2003-2014 he was at the Department of Organisation, Copenhagen Business School. His primary field of research is the organization and quality of working life. From 2015-2018 he was coordinator of the Horizon 2020 project QuInnE (quinne.eu) – Quality of Jobs and innovation Generated Employment Outcomes. In this project he was responsible for studies of innovation and work in the computer games industry and specialist healthcare. He was editor of the Oxford Handbook of Job Quality (OUP, 2022) with Chris Warhurst and Rachel Dwyer. In addition to innovation, job quality and employment issues, he has also published widely on specialist surgical training, gender in organisations, and cultural policy and production, especially inter-occupational collaboration and career in the film industry (see Mathieu & Visanich (2022) Accomplishing Cultural Policy in Europe: Financing, Governance and Responsiveness; Mathieu (2012) Careers in Creative Industries, Routledge).

“Semana Profissão: Engenheiro” 2023

“O Futuro passa por aqui” is the motto that accompanies another edition of the event that fills FEUP with high school students, eager to know what is this about being an engineer.

“This is a unique opportunity for students to get to know our faculty, and the routes are designed to show the Engineer’s role in protecting the planet, improving humanity and building a better world”, says Sara Cristóvão, responsible for the organization of “SPE – Semana Profissão Engenheiro“.

During 3 days (March 28-30) FEUP intends to be an enlightening support in the decision making process of many young people when the time comes to start Higher Education. To achieve this goal, a programme rich in pathways/activities and clarification sessions for students and parents was created. In this 2023 edition, more than 1500 students and approximately 70 teachers and psychologists from the North to the South of the country are enrolled and will find in FEUP the opportunity to know the reality of an institution of Higher Education and to contact with its community of teachers, students, staff and student groups.

For those students who already know what they want to do and just need to confirm their choice, the monothematic paths are the perfect solution.

In this SPE session, Informatics Engineering organized the tracks 16 and 17 (P16 and P17), with various activities, focused on the following themes: “Artificial Intelligence Applications“, “Computer Security“, “Software Development and Testing Lab“, “Graphics, Interaction and Games“, “Informatics Multipurpose“, “Database and Web Applications Lab“, “Computer Lab“, “Capstone Project” and “Informatics at FEUP: how they are, what they do, what they eat and where they live” – which are intended to be a showcase of what is done in the Informatics and Computing Engineering program.

And if after the event there are still many doubts, the doors are still open to clarify them through Consultório de Dúvidas FEUP.

Team “magic FoRMuLa” won the “Innovative Design” challenge at EBEC Challenge Porto

The 15th edition of the European BEST Engineering Competition Challenge (EBEC Challenge) was held at FEUP from 4 to 6 March (local round) and challenged dozens of teams formed by students from FEUP and FCUP to design in 24 hours a prototype testing their creativity, problem solving skills, teamwork, and the possibility to be present at the national/regional round, with the winners of all local rounds in Portugal and Spain, in a final that will take place at the Polytechnic University of Madrid between 5 and 8 May 2023.

This competition is divided in two modalities, Case Study (theoretical test where a real problem of a company is given to solve) and Innovative Design (practical test where the main goal is to build a prototype, with a limited number of materials and at a low cost), being the “magic FoRMuLa” team the winner of this last modality, composed by four students of the Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering.

Lucas Santos, Francisco Pires, Rita Ramada and Mafalda Magalhães worked their magic and in 24 hours created a prototype capable of picking up rubbish from a water tank, both at the surface and at depth, and depositing it on a platform. To achieve their goal the team could only use materials available in the designated shop, which had a credit cost associated with them. Lucas Santos tells us that they were limited to existing stock, so having quickly started to run out of some essential materials, they were forced to make quick decisions between planning ahead for the prototype, managing the credits spent (which would influence the final score) and purchasing the materials they needed while they were still in stock.

And what was the secret to success? “Teamwork was one of the keys to our success, as each member brought different skills and knowledge to the challenge. Communication and coordination between each of us was key to ensure everyone was on the same page and working towards the same goals,” tell us the winning team whose decision to enter the EBEC Challenge was motivated by the desire to test their practical skills and the challenge of competing against other students.

Since the academic year 2013/2014 EBEC Challenge Porto is credited with 1.5 ECTS as a training action of 40.5 hours. The Case Study competition is called “EBEC Porto 24h – Case Study” and the Innovative Design competition is called “EBEC Porto 24h – Team Design” having been a success in each edition.

Photo: BEST Porto

Pedro Fardilha Barbeira (L.EIC) launches “Verbal Alquimia”

Next March 21st, at 18:30, in the FEUP’s Library (Floor 0), the 3rd year student of Informatics and Computing Engineering, Pedro Fardilha Barbeira, will launch “Verbal Alquimia“, a poetry book where “we are challenged to share the deepest feelings inherent to the Man, not because it moves us, but because it offers us the freedom to think, to feel and – for the most daring – to live”.

In conversation with Pedro Barbeira he confessed that “Computer Engineering came a bit out of the blue”. His dedication at the time (we were in 2013) to computers and games, and his “schisms” in robotics – he dreamt of making medical prostheses – made him choose Computer Science. But the first years of college, where he had to divide his energies between complex personal challenges and a whole new world that was very different from high school, proved to be a real “Cabo das Tormentas”.

One day he decided, as he tells us, “to return to the program and really face this “Adamastor”, which insisted on projecting its shadow on my path”. On the way he discovered a passion for programming: “In it I found the perfect conciliation between Method and Creativity, those two facets of Order and Chaos, so close and necessary”. The interest grew not only for the “more “esoteric” disciplines – Operating Systems, Computer Networks, Compilers – but also for the more pragmatic ones – Web Development, UI/UX, among many others”.

When we ask him what the connection between writing and computer science is, Pedro tells us that the connection between the two emerges in what he imagines to be his dream life: “Writing is an indispensable tool when it comes to sharing knowledge – I believe to be the truest, oldest and deepest heritage of Humanity. Given the current state of the world, I believe that evolution will come about precisely because of the sharing of experiences and experiences – so necessary for empathy and cooperation – as well as a re-evaluation of the value of subjective experience – so forgotten by our deeply objective society. As such, I feel that programming will allow me to develop and explore my own ideas, at the level of applications focused on the common user, as well as to enhance the expansion and evolution of businesses and projects in which I really believe. The literary capacity contributes a lot to the clarity and specificity of oral expression, as well as to the ability to weave analogies, that ancestral vehicle of wisdom transmission, abilities that are central to the management of people and teams, to the interaction with clients and employers, as well as to the analysis and observation of social problems that we can try to mitigate or correct through our programmes”.

Talking about the future he tells us that he wants to invest on freelancing when he feels ready and dreams of “being at the head” of his own business. “Letters provides me with the analysis, synthesis and understanding skills I feel I need to make an impact at the level I consider relevant, and Engineering provides me with the technical tools and skills necessary to achieve these goals. A strong reminder that Knowledge is plural and transversal, and that sometimes the most evolutive solutions are found in the least expected places”, shares with us the student who will soon let us know “his visions through the twisted meanders of the poetic verses that flow through him”.

Entrance is free, you are all invited.

CreativityTalks | “The End of Programming (as we know it)” by Prof. Cristina Videira Lopes

“This talk is an exploratory tour through this brave new world, and its consequences to our field and to Computer Science (CS) education,” anticipates the speaker of a presentation on a topic that due to the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in “Large Language Models (LLMs)”, mediately exposed by ChatGPT, promises to revolutionise software development.

“The End of Programming (as we know it)” will be presented by Prof. Cristina Videira Lopes, with moderation by Prof. João Paulo Fernandes, on March 23, 18:00, room B035, with online broadcasting via Youtube.

By the speaker: “For the past 80 years, “programming” meant translating a high-level, semi-formal specification of a desired effect from natural language into computer instructions, using an artificial programming language. Mastering these translations requires domain knowledge of algorithms and data structures, talent, and years of practice. Large Language Models (LLMs) are disrupting the very notion of “programming.” The disruption is profound, and at two levels: (1) LLMs are capable of doing those translations automatically, and (2) many of the desired effects can be obtained without the use of algorithms or data structures. This talk is an exploratory tour through this brave new world, and its consequences to our field and to CS education.”


Cristina (Crista) Lopes is a Professor in the School of Information and Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine, with research interests in Programming Languages, Software Engineering, and Distributed Virtual Environments. She is an IEEE Fellow and an ACM Distinguished Scientist. She is the recipient of the 2016 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest for her work in the OpenSimulator virtual world platform. Her book “Exercises in Programming Style” has gained rave reviews, including being chosen as “Notable Book” by the ACM Best of Computing reviews. https://www.ics.uci.edu/~lopes/

Workshop | ” Artificial Flora: Evolving Shapes With Superformula” by Martinus Suijkerbuijk

The workshop will take place March 27th, at 14:30, room I323.

Registrations: https://forms.gle/ygPt14JE6a5soXaK6

By Martinus Suijkerbuijk:

“With the parametric tools in blender –geometry nodes– it is possible to create, with relatively simple node-based algorithms, great procedural pipelines. This functionality can be expanded with the integration of Python within blender, and amplify possibilities of creation and automation.

For this workshop, after some basic introduction of evolutionary algorithms and its application in creative practices, the participants have the opportunity to experiment with a custom designed evolutionary algorithm that can evolve a large variety of shapes. The shapes architecture is based on Johan Gielis’ Superformula. After we established our own dataset of shapes, through evolutionary selection, we’ll proceed with designing our own procedural algorithm to create a collection of artificial flora that the participants can use in their own virtual environments. Keywords: Blender, Evolutionary algorithms, geometry nodes, python, procedural modelling.”

 Martinus Suijkerbuijk is an artist, designer and engineer that currently is working towards completing his artistic research PhD at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Norway. His artistic research is focused on the concept of Computational Aesthetics, which he explores through the use of AI empowered Artificial Aesthetic Agents (AAA) in virtual environments. His diverse background has enabled him to present his research and work at cultural institutions such as ZKM and MetaMorf, as well as technology conferences like CHI 2018 and Philips Trend Event.

For further queries please contact Prof. António Coelho (DEI).

DEI Talks | “Computational Inaesthetics: Expanding the Boundaries of Artistic Research and Computational Aesthetics” by Martinus Suijkerbuijk

“Computational Inaesthetics: Expanding the Boundaries of Artistic Research and Computational Aesthetics” will be presented on Friday, march 24th, at 14:30, room I-105, moderated by Prof. António Coelho from DEI.

By the author:

“The increasing use of digital technologies in artistic practice, coupled with the recent emergence of AI, has led to a growing intersection and mutual influence between two related fields: artistic research and computational aesthetics. Artistic research involves using artistic practices to generate new insights and understandings about the world and reflect critically on the process of creating art. In contrast, computational aesthetics involves the theory, practice, and implementation of aesthetics within the domain of computing, and in its most formal version relies on mathematical and computational methods to generate and evaluate art.

However, there has been criticism of computational aesthetics for failing to account for the subjective and non-algorithmic nature of aesthetic experience. Nonetheless, this presentation proposes a practical framework that seeks to resolve this critique by highlighting an expanded view of computational aesthetics, which the presenter terms Computational Inaesthetics.

Through the discussion of basic concepts and principles of artistic research and computational aesthetics, and through the analysis of a selection of artworks by the presenter, the presentation explores the ways in which these fields can inform and enhance each other. Furthermore, the presentation provides an overview of the artistic contents and theoretical underpinnings of the presenter’s artistic research PhD project.

Overall, this presentation showcases the exciting potential of bringing together artistic research and computational aesthetics to expand our understanding of aesthetics, art, creativity, and the role of technology and computation in society.”

Martinus Suijkerbuijk is an artist, designer and engineer that currently is working towards completing his artistic research PhD at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Norway. His artistic research is focused on the concept of Computational Aesthetics, which he explores through the use of AI empowered Artificial Aesthetic Agents (AAA) in virtual environments. His diverse background has enabled him to present his research and work at cultural institutions such as ZKM and MetaMorf, as well as technology conferences like CHI 2018 and Philips Trend Event.

Open access, the “slow science” and the “fast science”

“Can the dissemination of science be a profitable business? Never before has the scientific community felt so much pressure to validate and legitimize what is produced. Can Open Access repositories be the solution?”

These are questions raised by DEI faculty members Carlos Baquero, João Cardoso, Pedro Diniz and Rui Maranhão, which open the recently published guest column in Expresso, transcribed below:

The publication of scientific articles in conferences and reference journals is one of the most important activities for the dissemination and progress of science and knowledge. Recently FCCN, via B-On (online knowledge library), established another protocol in order to create more favorable conditions for the national scientific community to publish scientific articles in Open Access. Publishing in Open Access has the advantage of allowing the reading of articles without subscription costs.

Whereas in the classic publication system the costs were usually covered by institutions subscribing to journals for their researchers’ use and they could usually opt for Open Access at additional cost, in the single Open Access system these costs are transferred to the point of publication and usually covered by a research project assigned to the authors. These protocols aim to reduce these costs, usually with discounts on the article processing fee.

Without going into the polemic on the lucrative business of publishing houses specializing in science, it is easy to observe that there has been a transfer of the moment when publishing houses are financed. In the classical system authors submitted their work, it was evaluated by other scientists, improved and, if accepted, published in the journals, without any transaction involving the author (it was usually the libraries that assumed these costs).

Under Open Access, which generally requires such processing fees, the author has to secure funding after the article is accepted in order for it to be published. Although in theory you are not paying for acceptance of the article, and this depends only on its quality, economic incentives change the landscape somewhat, as there may be more pressure on publishers to maximise the number of articles published.

Despite this risk, publishers have an interest in preserving their prestige and the prestige of the journals they publish. By selecting a small number of articles of the highest quality, they provide an important editorial selection role to their readers, to the fields of science themselves, and improve the potential impact of each article. Several classic journals support both modes of publication, with Open Access being only one option and accepted publications being published at no cost to the author.

Results published in top journals such as Science and Nature have enormous visibility both in the scientific community and sometimes in society at large. However, as these publications are very selective, they require several months of preparation by the authors, prior to the actual submission of the article, and significant improvement and additional work during the demanding peer-review process. In a “fast food” society there does not always seem to be time for these lengthy “slow science” processes.

In the last decade, along with the growth of Open Access, there has also been a growing supply of Open Access journals that promise very short peer-review times, making them very desirable for junior researchers wishing to enhance their academic profiles. To take the proverb “Quick and well, there’s no who” we can observe that there are limits to the efficiency gains that can be made when reviewers are usually other scientists, unpaid by the publisher, with little time available, particularly when they are well-known scientists.

In these publishers, achieving efficiency invariably leads to editorial boards with several hundred members, usually little known, in contrast to the usual ten or so names recognized by the community and with a clear role in the selection of articles in reference journals.

Other mechanisms to ensure a profitable business model seem to rely on the creation of numerous special issues by invitation and on the massive invitation to various scientists to prepare these issues; often in areas that they do not dominate or in which they are not recognized. Scientists have even been enticed by offers and reductions in Open Access costs, a strategy that ensures the involvement of many and the reach required for a profitable business model. All of these factors greatly diminish the perceived quality of the articles selected.

This decline in publication quality has recently been discussed in other European countries, with somewhat disparate approaches. The potential impacts of these practices on the quality of science have been discussed in a paper from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; in our neighbour Spain the increasing migration to rapid publication media has been discussed. In some countries, such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom, these channels for the dissemination of scientific results are simply ignored or even unknown. There is even a rejection posture in reference institutions, in which researchers with extensive or significant part of their publications in these channels are not taken seriously.

Perhaps this phenomenon of rapid publication of unripe results is not unrelated to the observation that there is less and less impact of research on the transformation of society, as documented in a recent article in Nature.

The rapid and massified publication via these publishers has been too tempting for early career scientists, for a scientific community subject to immense competitive pressure and where regular publication is essential for career development. In Portugal, we can see that the growth in the proportion of Open Access publications over the last decade (black line) would not have occurred if the effect of publications in two large accelerated publishers were discounted (red line shows what the proportion would be like without these publications that we call Accelerated Open Access). The effect would be even larger if other smaller journals associated with what might even be called predatory practices were discounted.

While Open Access can be positive for better dissemination of research results, this should not be at the expense of lowering the quality of publications. Just as a little occasional fast food has little impact on our health, so a certain amount of fast science seems reasonable. Not all research always produces the results the authors would like; there is competition and sometimes other teams publish first.

However, it is no longer healthy, as with a primarily fast food diet, for the bulk of publications from a given researcher, team or institution to begin to be of this type as a rule. Many articles that could reach top journals end up not realizing their full potential by being directed to these rapid publication channels.

Indeed, the existence of pre-publication repositories such as arXiv and medRxiv enables rapid and open dissemination and it is suggested that these channels (rather than Accelerated Open Access) be used for that very purpose, allowing authors to refine their articles and even raise their quality (in terms of data extensibility and/or more robust reasoning for conclusions) by publishing them in other channels with longer peer-review stages.

Worse than the development of a quick, metro curriculum, the current approach is itself counterproductive for authors, as it does not allow them to realise their full potential and may, in the long term, impact negatively on their careers. A cornerstone of the system is individual research freedom; authors are sovereign in their choice of publication targets. However, it is important to be aware of the existence of journals with more massive and potentially predatory strategies. Twenty years ago, it was relatively simple to distinguish good journals from journals with practices that could be classified as predatory, the latter being very artisanal and unprofessional. Today the line is much more blurred, partly as a result of extremely profitable and very successful business models.

It seems therefore very important to us that the national scientific community avoids the dominance of “fast science”, namely by avoiding that the new generations of scientists fall into the temptation of the easy enticement of these business models that gravitate towards science.

This guest column was published in Expresso on 21 February 2023 (09:33).