Volume 4, Number 3, October 2008

Constraint Programming News

volume 4, number 3, Oct 2008

Editors:
Jimmy Lee (events, career news)
Eric Monfroy (profiles, publications)
Toby Walsh (news, reports)

Contents

News

Welcome to CP News, an initiative of the Association for Constraint Programming.

We aim to provide a comprehensive summary of important news in the area of constraint programming. The newsletter is published quarterly in January, April, July, and October. Please email the relevant editor with any news, event, report or profile you want published. To subscribe, please register here.

REPORT FROM THE ASSOCIATION FOR CONSTRAINT PROGRAMMING

This is a short summary of activities within the ACP during the months July-September 2008.

The current Executive Committee comprises:

- Officers:
   Barry O'Sullivan (President), Jimmy H.M. Lee (Secretary), Thomas Schiex (Treasurer), Pedro Meseguer (Conference Coordinator)  
- Other Members:     
   Christian Bessiere , Francesca Rossi, Christian Schulte, Michael Trick

  1. Brief Comment on CP 2008

    On behalf of the ACP, the Executive Committee would like to congratulate the various people responsible for making CP 2008 in Sydney such a success. Special thanks goes to Toby Walsh (Conference Chair), Peter J. Stuckey (Program Chair), Maurice Pagnucco (Local Arrangements Chair), Jimmy H.M. Lee (Workshop and Tutorial Chair), Roland H.C. Yap and Kostas Stergiou (Doctoral Programme Co-Chairs), Barry O'Sullivan (Sponsorship Chair), and Sebastian Brand (Publicity Chair).


    Helmut Simonis has made his photographs of the conference available through the CP 2008 web-site. We thank Helmut for taking the time for that.

  2. Results of the ACP Election 2008

    Bylaw 5 of the ACP Bylaws (see www.a4cp.org) dictates the election procedure and rules. 2008 is a transition year. In this election, we aimed to elect (a) three regular members to a four year term and (b) two interim members to a two year term. The top three elected candidates will serve as regular members of the EC (four year term), and the next two will serve as interim members (two year term).

    The five elected members of the new ACP EC are the following CPers :
    - Barry O'Sullivan, Peter Stuckey, John Hooker (four year term)  
    - Roland Yap, Karen Petrie (two year term)


    Francesca Rossi leaves the ACP EC. On behalf of the CP community, the ACP-EC would like to thank Francesca for her tireless work on behalf of the community. Francesca was amongst the people who set about formally establing a representative body for the international constraints community.

  3. ACP General Assembly 2008

    During the CP 2008 conference, the annual ACP General Assembly took place.   It was chaird by the current ACP President, Barry O'Sullivan, and was well attended by the community. Various decisions of the ACP were supported by the membership, and a constructive discussion took place on how to move the community forward from its current position of strength.   The minutes for the assembly will be made available on the ACP web-site.

  4. ACP CSP Solver Competition

    The General Assembly supported the EC's proposal to make the CSP Solver Competition an official part of the CP Conference. The competition will received financial support from the ACP. Furthermore, since the solver competition only runs every second year, there is room for a modeling competition. Persons interested in contributing to the various competitions are invited to contact one of the organisers of the 2008 competition, or Barry O'Sullivan.

    The ACP would like to thank the organisers of this year's competition: Marc van Dongen , Christophe Lecoutre and Olivier Roussel , as well as the judges and working group associated with the event.

  5. Planning CP Multiple Years Ahead

    In order to promote greater integration with other communities, the ACP-EC will begin planning the location for CP two years in advance.   The proposal was discussed and supported at the General Assembly.   Therefore, a call for bids for hosting CP 2010 will be send out before Christmas, with a call for bids for the 2011 conference being circulated later in the year.

4C News

Details here.

EURO Excellence in Practice Award 2009

Deadline: January 31, 2009

For details, please check here for details.

Honours to members of the CP Community

Pascal Van Hentenryck will receive the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Université catholique de Louvain on October 8, 2008, along with A. Fert (Paris- Sud , Nobel Price Physics 2008), R.L Rivest (MIT, Turing Award 2002), and J.N. Tsitsiklis (MIT).

  9:00-12:00   Seminar Computing Science and Applied Mathematics
Invited talks of R.L Rivest , J.N. Tsitsiklis and P. Van Hentenryck .

  14:00-16:00   Scientific conferences by A. Fert , R.L Rivest , J.N. Tsitsiklis and P. Van Hentenryck .

  17:00-18:00   Doctor Honoris Causa Conferment ceremony

Graduate course: Comet and Constraint Programming
by Pascal Van Hentenryck ( Brown University ) (6-7 October 2008)
UCLouvain , Louvain-la- Neuve , Belgium

Over the last two decades, constraint programming (CP) has become a fundamental approach to combinatorial optimization and is now in daily use around the world to solve complex   applications in a variety of areas such as logistics, manufacturing, and resource allocation.

This graduate class is an introduction to constraint programming using the innovative optimization language Comet. It reviews the essence of constraint programming and how it complements other approaches to combinatorial optimization. It provides an in-depth study of modeling, filtering, and search in constraint programming. The functionalities are constraint programming are illustrated on a variety of realistic applications, highlighting some of the modeling and computational benefits of constraint   programming.

The class also studies the architecture of a modern constraint programming system, including the clean separation between the specification of the search and the exploration strategy and the transparent parallelization of constraint programs. Finally, the hybridization of constraint programming and other optimization   methodologies is also discussed.

REGISTRATION :

  • The course is open to graduate students and researchers from any university.   The number of participants is limited to 40 persons.

  • The participation fee for the graduate course is 50 Euros for students and 100 Euros for non students.   It is free for the GrasComp graduate students.

  • Some rooms are available at nearby hotels.   More information available on Icampus http://icampus.grascomp.be/courses/COMP049/

  • Registration is mandatory for the graduate course.   For information and registration, contact Stéphanie Landrain ( sr@info.ucl.ac.be ) or Yves Deville ( yde@info.ucl.ac.be )

CONSTRAINTS Journal Accepted Papers

The contents of a forthcoming special issue are listed below.   Links to the authors' final versions of these papers (no subscription required) and to the final published versions (subscription required) can be found here.

Special Issue on Quantified CSPs and QBF
Guest Editors: Enrico Giunchiglia , Kostas Stergiou

  • Introduction to the Special Issue  
    Enrico Giunchiglia , Kostas Stergiou
  • Relatively Quantified Constraint Satisfaction
    Manuel Bodirsky , Hubie Chen
  • Value Ordering for Quantified CSPs
    David Stynes and Kenneth Brown
  • A Solver for QBFs in Negation Normal Form
    Uwe Egly , Martina Seidl , Stefan Woltran
  • A Self-Adaptive Multi-Engine Solver for Quantified Boolean Formulas
    Luca Pulina and Armando Tacchella
  • Efficient Handling of Universally Quantified Inequalities
    Alexandre Goldsztejn , Claude Michel, Michel Rueher

Constraint Programming Letters Journal Accepted Papers

Constraint Programming Letters (CPL) provides an international forum for the electronic publication of high-quality scholarly articles on constraint programming. All published papers are freely available online.
Volume 4 will be a special issue dedicated to Autonomous Search. It will be edited by Youssef Hamadi , Eric Monfroy , and Frederic Saubion .

Other Publications

Book:

Software:

  • A new release of CHOCO is available

    The CHOCO development team is happy to announce the release of the new version of its open-source constraint solver: CHOCO V2.

    CHOCO is Java library that can be used for:    
    - teaching (a user-oriented constraint solver with open-source code)    
    - research (state-of-the-art algorithms and techniques, user-defined constraints, domains and variables)    
    - real-life applications (many application now embed CHOCO )

    CHOCO is final-user oriented. It has been under heavy refactoring from V1 to V2. New constraints, new features have been added.

    CHOCO V2 is available online with a complete documentation, tutorials, various materials, forums, etc.

    Please visit here for downloading and more information.

  • Microsoft Solver Foundation

    Microsoft Solver Foundation is a brand new framework and managed code runtime for mathematical programming, modeling, and optimization. It is designed to run on NETfx 3.5+ and is completely implemented in C#. Solver Foundation is useable from all CLS-compliant languages, including F#, IronPython , VB.NET and C++. It is also available via a visual, Add-in Designer for Excel 2007 users. Solver Foundation provides solvers and services for modeling and solving to a broad community of users: from Excel users and analysts to programmers working on business critical scheduling, configuration, risk management, and planning solutions. It provides services for model checking, parallel solving and workload scheduling, model interchange, and declarative data binding via LINQ and other NETFx technologies. As an open framework designed for third party extensibility, it exposes facilities for users to plug-in their own solvers while still leveraging all of the modeling services and capabilities of Solver Foundation.

    Solver Foundation consists of a series of layered services that efficiently divide the work of modeling and solving. This allows for maximal separation of concerns in the design and future proofs Solver Foundation. As innovations in solver technology emerge, they can be transparently and easily integrated into the runtime and framework without refactoring or recompilation. The service layers include:  

    - Programming and Modeling Services for NETfx Developers and Excel 2007 users
    - Solver Foundation Services for model interchange, feasibility analysis, and declarative parallel solving
    - Solver Runtime and Extensibility Services for third party solver integration and coordination  

    Solver Foundation is delivered with a complete range of solvers written in managed code. These solvers cover several families of numerical and symbolic programming, including:  

    - Revised, Simplex Linear and Mixed Integer Programming (Primal and Dual Simplex)  
    - Interior Point Method Linear and Quadratic Programming  
    - Constraint Programming with Exhaustive Tree and Local Search Techniques  
    - Compact, Quasi-Newton (L-BFGS) Nonlinear Programming

    With the advent of multi- and many-core hardware, Solver Foundation is automatically used to efficiently utilize those resources for parallel computation of solutions. This automatic parallelism is both declarative and transparent. No changes to the model or host application are required. Any changes to the runtime are communicated via the directives mechanism thereby totally isolating the model developer from any knowledge of multi-threaded, concurrent programming. Solver Foundation is designed to run out-of-box with self-tuning heuristics for selection of solvers and their configurations - removing the burden on developers in creating solutions and speeding time to market.

    The RTM version is expected for the end of this year.

    Please visit here for more details.

Special Issues CFPs

  • Special Issue on Parallel SAT Solving
    Journal of Satisfiability
    Deadline for paper submission: November 30th, 2008

    Guest Editors:
    Youssef Hamadi , Microsoft Research, youssefh@microsoft.com


  • Recent Advances in Constraints
    Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Springer

    Post-proceedings of the CSCLP 2008 workshop held in Rome , Italy , June 18-20 2008; open to new submissions.

    Editors: Francois Fages , Angelo Oddi , and Francesca Rossi.

    This book will continue a series edited by LNAI since 2002 as post-proceedings of the annual workshop on Constraint Solving and Constraint Logic Programming CSCLP of the ERCIM Working Group on Constraints.

    Many of the papers presented at CSCLP 2008 are of interest to a wider audience and the intention of this book is to make them more widely accessible. Authors of papers that have been presented at the workshop are therefore invited to submit final versions that take into account the discussion at the workshop for this volume.

    In addition, we give an opportunity for other papers to appear in this volume, even when they have not been presented at the workshop.

    All submissions will be peer-reviewed. Submission of a paper implies implicit agreement to review several other submissions by the deadline.  

    Important dates:  
      October 24, 2008: papers due  
      November 30, 2008: reviews due  
      December 15, 2008: notification  
      January 15, 2009: final papers due

    Papers should be formatted in Springer LNCS style and should not exceed 15 pages in that format.

    Please submit papers in . pdf format on EasyChair before Friday October 24.
          http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=rac08

    Francois Fages, Angelo Oddi, and Francesca Rossi

Events

  • WLP 2008, 22nd Workshop on (Constraint) Logic Programming, September 30 - October 1, 2008, Dresden , Germany .    
  • ICTAI 2008, The 20th IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE on TOOLS with ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, November 3-5, 2008, Dayton , Ohio , USA .    
  • LaSh08, WORKSHOP ON LOGIC AND SEARCH: Computation of structures from declarative descriptions, November 6-7, 2008, Leuven , Belgium .  
  • LPAR 2008, 15th International Conference on Logic for    Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning, November 22-27, 2008, Doha , Qatar .  
  • AI 2008, Twenty-first Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 1 - 5 December, 2008, Auckland, New Zealand.    
  • ATM-CT 2008, International Workshop on Constraint Technology for Air Traffic Control & Management, 2 December, 2008, EuroControl Experimental Centre, Brétigny sur Orge , Paris, France.   Proposal deadline: November 15, 2008.
  • Fourth Doctoral Consortium, ICLP'08, 24th International Conference on Logic Programming, December 9th-13th, 2008, Udine , Italy .  
  • 15th RCRA workshop: Experimental evaluation of algorithms for solving problems with combinatorial explosion (co-located with ICLP'08), December 9th-13th, 2008, Udine , Italy .   Abstract submission deadline: 1 September, 2008.  
  • ASPOCP 2008, Workshop on Answer Set Programming and Other Computing Paradigms (a workshop of ICLP'08), December 13th, 2008, Udine , Italy .
  • ICLP'08, 24th International Conference on Logic Programming, December 9th-13th, 2008, Udine , Italy .  
  • PlanSIG 2008, the 27th Workshop of the UK PLANNING AND SCHEDULING Special Interest Group, December 11-12, 2008, Edinburgh, UK.   Submissions: October 13th 2008 to ruth@macs.hw.ac.uk.
  • MIWAI 2008, The Second Mahasarakham International Workshop on AI, December 12-13, 2008, Mahasarakham , Thailand .   Papers due: November 8, 2008.
  • PRICAI 2008, Tenth Pacific Rim International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 15-19 December, 2008, Hanoi , Vietnam .  
  • ICS 2009, INFORMS COMPUTING SOCIETY 2009 CONFERENCE, January 11-13, 2009, Charleston , South Carolina .   Abstract submission deadline: November 1, 2008.
  • LION 3, Learning and Intelligent Optimization Conference, 14-18 January, 2009. Trento , Italy .   Paper submission deadline: 15 October, 2008.
  • VMCAI 2009, The Tenth International Conference on Verification, Model Checking, and Abstract Interpretation, January 18-20, 2009, Savannah , GA , USA .
  • PEPM 2009, ACM SIGPLAN Workshop on Partial Evaluation and Program Manipulation, January 19-20, 2009, Savannah , Georgia , USA .   Abstract due: October 12, 2008, and Submission due:   October 17, 2008.
  • Track on Constraint Solving and Programming (part of the 24th Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing), March 8 - 12, 2009, Waikiki Beach , Honolulu , Hawaii , USA .  
  • CC 2009, International Conference on Compiler Construction, March 22-29, 2009, York , United Kingdom .   Abstracts are due on October 2, 2008, and the deadline for full paper submission is October 9, 2008.
  • CI-Sched 2009, 2009 IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence in Scheduling, March 30 - April 2, 2009, Sheraton Music City Hotel, Nashville, TN, USA.   Submission Deadline: October 31, 2008.
  • FLAIRS 2009, Special Track on AI PLANNING AND SCHEDULING, 22nd International Florida Artificial Intelligence Research Society Conference, 19th-21st May, 2009, Sanibel Island , Florida , USA .   Paper submission deadline: 23rd November, 2008.
  • AI'09, Twenty-second Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence, May 25-27, 2009, Kelowna , British Columbia .   Paper submission due: January 23rd, 2009.
  • CP-AI-OR 2009, Sixth International Conference on Integration of Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research Techniques in Constraint Programming for Combinatorial Optimization Problems, May 27-31, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.   January 10, 2009 - Abstract due for full papers.   January 16, 2009 - Full papers due.
  • IJCAI-09, Twenty-First International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 11-17, 2009, Pasadena , California , USA .   Tutorial proposal submission: October 13, 2008 (11:59PM, PDT).   Workshop proposal submission: October 13, 2008 (11:59PM, PDT).   Electronic abstract submission: January 7, 2009 (11:59PM, PST).   Electronic paper submission: January 12, 2009 (11:59PM, PST).   Workshop paper submission: March 6, 2009 (11:59PM, PST).
  • CADE-22, 22nd International Conference on Automated Deduction, August 2-7, 2009, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.   Submission Deadline: 23 Feb, 2009

Career news

POSTDOC AND PHD OPPORTUNITIES IN HONG KONG

Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

We are looking for motivated Postdoc fellows and PhD students to work on constraint projects related to problem modeling, local search, over-constrained problems, global constraints, etc.   The ideal candidate for Postdoc fellowship should hold a PhD or equivalent qualification, and should normally have no more than 5 years of post-doctoral experience. Good track record in constraint related research is desirable.   A PhD applicant should hold a good undergraduate/master’s degree in computer science or related disciplines.

If the Postdoc fellow is not a Hong Kong resident, a valid visa to work in Hong Kong must be obtained before the appointment takes effect.

The PhD studentship is around HK$12,500 per month.   Monthly salary for the Postdoc fellow commences at HK$23,160 per month (US$1 = HK$7.8), i.e. HK$277,920 per annum, and commensurates with qualification.   Hong Kong also enjoys a low tax rate of 15% maximum.   There is no tax for PhD studentship.   The appointment of the Postdoc fellowship will be initially for one year, but can be renewed for another year subject to satisfactory performance.   Other benefits include annual leave, out-patient, and dental benefits.

We have an active research group of moderate size working on constraint programming.   Current topics of interest include, but not limited to, search algorithms (systematic, local, hybrid), problem modeling (channeling constraints), over-constrained problems (weighted CSPs ), symmetry breaking, global constraints, and real-life applications of the above.

The University is situated in Shatin , an outskirt area of Hong Kong with convenient transportation into the city.   The campus is built on a hill-side spanning 134 hectares of land with beautiful surroundings and landscape.

Interested candidates should contact Prof. Jimmy Lee with their updated CVs.

Post-doc position in the area of optimization applied to bioinformatics
Orsay , France

1 Post-doc position is open in the area of optimization applied to bioinformatics in Orsay , France .

Context :
Optimization and search methods for combinatorial or mixed discrete-continuous problems are reaching a mature state that allows users to tackle real-world problems in an efficient way. However, both exact methods (e.g. Constraint Programming) and heuristic and meta-heuristic approaches (e.g. Evolutionary Algorithms) have to face the critical issue of parameter tuning, that remains problem- and even instance-dependent, and requires past experience of the algorithm being used.

The selected candidate will reinforce the Adaptive Combinatorial Search project, whose objective is to set up automatic tuning methods for search algorithms in e-science, allowing scientists who have little knowledge of the search technique itself to nevertheless solve their optimization problem without the need for some "optimization engineer".

Relying on Machine Learning and statistical techniques, the project addresses both off-line and on-line tuning issues, at the problem level as well as at the instance level. The target algorithms are Constraint Programming, building on the expertise of the Constraint Reasoning Group at MSR, and meta-heuristics, with a particular emphasis on Evolutionary Algorithms, one research area of the TAO project-team at INRIA Futurs .

The position will be located at the new INRIA-Microsoft Joint lab in Orsay , France (http://www.msr-inria.inria.fr).

Suitable Profiles :
Post-doc candidates *must have completed their PhD*. Ideal candidates should have a strong experience in bio-informatics, search, and Machine Learning.
* Competencies: Computational Biology, Constraint Programming, Meta-heuristics, Machine Learning.
* Technical skills: C, C++, C#, Matlab .
* Additional competencies: French.

Salary :
Standard French public Post-doc package.

Contact :
Send full CV and at least two letters of reference to ' youssefh at microsoft dot com'.

Logic and Optimization Post-Doctoral Position
Simon Fraser University , Canada

Applications are invited for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Logic and Optimization, in the Computational Logic Laboratory at Simon Fraser University .   Applicants should have a PhD in computing science or a related field, ability to work on problems in both logic and discrete optimization, and should enjoy working in both theoretical and applied settings.

The successful candidate will play a central role in a project to extend a problem modelling and solving framework and system for search problems to handle optimization problems.   Working within a dedicated team including two faculty members, several PhD students, and scientists employed by our industrial partner, he or she will help tackle significant theoretical and practical challenges.   Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the project principals for further details on project plans and goals. For general project information see here.

Knowledge or interest in several of the following would be of value:

  • integer linear programming and applications
  • finite model theory and descriptive complexity
  • logic and databases or database query processing
  • constraint or algebraic modelling languages
  • design and use of solvers for ILP/SAT/CSP/SMT/CLP
  • experimental evaluation of algorithms or solvers
  • knowledge representation or theorem proving

Candidates should also expect to play a lead role in writing papers, should have sufficient C++ programming experience to take part in software development, and to supervise graduate students.

The position is to commence as soon as possible after a candidate is chosen.   Salary is to be between CDN $45,000 and $60,000, depending upon qualifications and experience.   The initial appointment will be for one year, with possibility of extension.

Simon Fraser University is located atop Burnaby Mountain in Vancouver , Canada .

Vancouver thrives as a scenic waterfront city located just minutes away from the mountains and a wide range of outdoor activities. Vancouver 's cultural and intellectual pursuits, leisure opportunities, favourable climate, and clean and safe environment are consistently cited as quality of life factors that make it one of the most desirable places in the world to live and work.

Interested applicants should contact one of project leaders at the earliest opportunity:

Eugenia Ternovska mailto:ter@cs.sfu.ca
David Mitchell mailto:mitchell@cs.sfu.ca

Please forward to any interested parties.

Faculty position in Orléans , FRANCE

In 2009, the LIFO ( Laboratoire d'Informatique Fondamentale d'Orléans ) will be inviting applications for a tenured full professor position in computer science.   In accordance with the french academic system, this position carries both teaching and research duties.

The LIFO is a computer science research lab at the university of Orléans in France, and is composed of 4 research groups:

  • Constraints and Machine Learning
  • Parallelism, Virtual Reality, and Verification
  • Graphs and Algorithms
  • Security of Distributed Systems

The candidate is expected to join one of the first 3 groups.   However, priority will be given to a recruitment in the "Constraints and Machine Learning" group.   We especially welcome applications from candidates with expertise in the field of constraints or/and computational linguistics (NLP), possibly also statistical machine learning.

IMPORTANT: before s/he can be allowed to apply for such a position, a candidate MUST apply for "qualification".   Information about this procedure can be found online .   This MUST be done before Oct 14 .   In order to be granted "qualification" you either need a "habilitation" or a research career which can be accepted as equivalent.

If you may be interested, you need to act NOW!
ASAP contact: denys.duchier@univ-orleans.fr

Internship position in // SAT

We are opening a three-months internship position to work on parallel SAT.   The main work location is Cambridge (UK), but the candidate will have to travel to Redmond (US) at the beginning of her internship.   The objective of the work is to study and implement innovative parallel search techniques.

Required skills: C++, C#.

Optional skills: Windows threads, MPI, knowledge of classical parallel search techniques.

Agenda: Please contact Youssef Hamadi (youssefh at microsoft dot com) asap.

Post-doc opportunity at 4C, Ireland

Cork Constraint Computation Centre (4C) , University College Cork, is looking for a post-doctoral researcher to work on a constraint application project   for generating personalized TV schedules. Experience in finite domain constraint solving is required, Java and GUI design experience is welcome.   The project is funded by Enterprise Ireland, pay is between 40,000 and 46,000 Euro. We would like the position to be taken up as soon as possible.   For more information, contact Helmut Simonis at 4C.  

SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA)

Outstanding candidates who are interested in applying for the SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA), and whose research interests overlap those of the Cork Constraint Computation Centre (broadly speaking Artificial Intelligence, Constraint Programming, Decision Support) are encouraged to contact: Prof. Gene Freuder .

Postdoc position MBARI, California

The Autonomous System group at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) invites applications for 1 postdoc position.

MBARI is a private non-profit Oceanographic research institute located in Moss Landing, California, in the heart of the largest marine sanctuary in the United States, just outside Silicon Valley. The institute is an inter-disciplinary research institution guided by a strong peer relationship between scientists, engineers and marine operations staff. MBARI pioneered the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles ( ROVs ) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles ( AUVs) for deep ocean research and continues to be at the cutting edge of marine robotics, marine sensor development, ocean chemistry, marine geology, micro-biology and ecology.

Research Focus:

The Autonomous Systems group is uniquely placed as being the only Artificial Intelligence group within an operational oceanographic setting anywhere. The focus of the groups effort is in automated reasoning for embodied robust intelligence for AUVs with a focus on Automated Planning, Execution, Constraint-Based Reasoning and Machine Learning. The core development effort is to enable adaptive control for AUVs to survey, sample and characterize dynamic and episodic ocean phenomenon such as Harmful Algal Blooms, Fronts and Thin Layers which have substantial societal impact. Further efforts are underway to study the feasibility of goal-based commanding for underwater feature-based SLAM, mixed-initiative platform control and multi-vehicle coordination.

Research Environment:

The Autonomous Systems group was established in 2005 by researchers from NASA with extensive background in commanding spacecraft including the twin Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. A strong inter-disciplinary effort with biological oceanographers at MBARI and others outside has driven the design and deployment of a hybrid executive* which enables an AUV to adaptively sample the environment using Planning and Machine Learning techniques to inform dynamic in-situ behavior. Publishing in peer-reviewed conferences and journals in AI, Robotics and the Ocean Sciences and interacting with scientists in the fields of biology, chemistry, ecology, genetics, ocean physics, marine robotics is an important aspect of the research effort. The group collaborates with AI and Robotics researchers in academia in the US and Europe and hosts visiting graduate students and researchers from within the US and Europe.

Key topic areas of interest for this position are:

1. Automated Planning and Execution
2. Scheduling
3. Machine Learning
4. Constraint-based Reasoning
5. Distributed Planning

Applicants are encouraged to communicate with the PI for project feasibility and relevance to ongoing MBARI research. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. Details of the application process are here . The deadline for applications is December 11th 2008.

1.      McGann, C., Py, F., Rajan, K., Ryan, J., Thomas, H., Henthorn, R., and McEwen, R. “Preliminary Results for Model-Based Adaptive Control of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle”   Intnl. Symposium on Experimental Robotics (ISER) (Athens, Greece, 2008).

2.      McGann, C., Py, F., Rajan, K., Ryan, J., and Henthorn, R. “Adaptive Control for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles”   In Proc. Assoc. for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, National Conference (AAAI) (Chicago, IL, 2008).

3.      McGann, C., Py, F., Rajan, K., Thomas, H., Henthorn, R., and McEwen, R. “A Deliberative Architecture for AUV Control” In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) (Pasadena, CA, May 2008).

4.      McGann, C., Py, F., Rajan, K., Thomas, H., Henthorn, R., and McEwen, R., “Automated Decision Making For a New Class of AUV Science”, In ASLO/Ocean Sciences, Florida, 2008.

5.      Py, F., Ryan, J., Rajan, K., McGann, C., Fox, M, “Adaptive Water Sampling from an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle based on Unsupervised Clustering”, In ASLO/Ocean Sciences, Florida, 2008

POSTDOC POSITION on CONSTRAINT REASONING
University of Padova, Italy

The constraint reasoning group of the University of Padova (Italy), led by prof. Francesca Rossi, is looking for a motivated Postdoc fellow to work on constraint issues related to "Modelling and solving soft constraint problems with incompleteness, imprecision, and instability".   Relevant research topics include preference reasoning, decision making under uncertainty, sensitivity and risk analysis, parameter assessment, preference elicitation, and multi-agent preference reasoning.

The candidate should hold a PhD or equivalent qualification.   A good track record in constraint related research is desirable.  

The appointment will be initially for two years, but it can be renewed for another two years subject to satisfactory performance and available funds.

The constraint reasoning group of the University of Padova is an active research group working on several aspects of constraint programming and multi-agent preference aggregation.   Current topics of interest include, but are not limited to, soft constraints, preference modelling, preference elicitation, multi-agent preference aggregation, computational social choice, stable matching.

Padova is a pleasant city with a population of 250.000, located in the north-east of Italy. The University of Padova, founded in 1222, is a very large university (about 60.000 students) with a long tradition of high quality research in many areas.   The Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics is located in a new building which is walking distance to the center of town.

The formal call will be opened in December, with deadline in mid January.   Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of their cv and of a colloquium with a local committee. Salary is about 16000 EUR a year.

Interested candidates should contact Francesca Rossi as soon as possible and send their updated CVs.   Further information about the formal call will be communicated in due time.

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