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Department of Informatics

IFI Summer School 2012

The 2012 IFI Summer School is a week-long event for graduate students and research assistants in informatics and related fields, where invited experts teach a number of different topics in day-long courses. The topics this year includes Scientific Inquiry in a Technical Field, Context-aware computing, Similarity Queries in Database Systems, Social Network Analysis, Social Computing and Research Methods in Computer Science. The summer school is organized by the Department of Informatics at the University of Zurich. For inquiries, please contact Prof. Dr. Daning Hu at hdaning[at]ifi[dot]uzh[dot]ch.

Dates and Location

The summer school will take place June 25-29, 2012 at the University of Zurich. The courses will be held in two parallel seesions at the following locations from 9:00-17:00 (check-in starts at 8:45) with coffee and lunch breaks.

The two parallel sessions will be held at the AND building at Andreasstrasse 15, 8050 Zürich, from June 25th to 28th. You can find the directions here.

Session A:Room AND-3-02

Session B: Room AND-3-06

On June 29th (Friday), the two parallel sessions will be held at the BIN building at Binzmühlestrasse 14, 8050 Zürich (Just accorss the street of the AND building). You can find the directions here.

Session A:Room BIN-0-K.12

Session B: Room BIN-0-K.02

*Please also note that on June 25th IFI will hold a special colloquium: Waston- How Pepple Collaborate with Computers from 17:00 pm - 18:30 pm at Room 0.K.02 of  BIN building at Binzmühlestrasse 14. We encourage you to attend this event. You can find the details here

Overview of the week

June 25th
June 26th
June 27th
June 28th
June 29th
Dr. Robert O. BriggsAAAA
Dr. Anind DeyAA
Dr. Nikolaus AugstenB B
Dr. Ulrik BrandesAA
Dr. Yiling ChenB B
Dr. Serge DemeyerBB
Dr. Patrick HeymansBB

Daily schedule (subject to change as needed by instructors)

8:45 - 9:00 Check-in
9:00 - 10:30 Instruction
10:30 - 10:45 Coffee break
10:45 - 12:00 Instruction
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch (@mensa, not included in cost)
13:00 - 14:30 Instruction
14:30 - 14:45 Coffee break
14:45 - 16:00 Instruction

All registered students are also invited to attend the summer school social event, which will take place on Thursday directly following the course. Details to follow.


The Summer School is open to doctoral students in computer science and related fields from the University of Zurich as well as other universities. Registration is free for IfI research assistants and doctoral students. For all other students, fees are 90 CHF for the entire five-day summer school, or 20CHF for individual courses. Attendance will be capped at 40 people per course. Preference will be given to IFI doctoral students and research assistants, and other participants will be admitted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Registration for the summer school is now closed. For further information, please contact Prof.Dr. Daning Hu at hdaning[at]ifi[dot]uzh[dot]ch.

Payment Method

The fee will be paid on site in cash only at the reception desk outside the classroom for Session A  (from 8:15 am to 9:00 am, June 25th to 29th).

ECTS credits

For UZH studnets, you can find the ECTS credit awarded by each course in the description below. For non-IFI students who would like to acquire credits, you need to talk with the person who is in charge of credit transfering in your school first and find out if your school accepts/recognizes the ECTS credits awarded by IFI at UZH.


Scientific Inquiry in a Technical Field (ECTS: Part 1 - 0.5 Doctoral Course; Part 2 - 0.5 Doctoral Course

  You can download the slides for this course from here PDF1, PDF2

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Robert O. Briggs (San Diego State University)

The research goals of any technical field are to develop and test generalizable solutions to important classes of problems, and to develop design theories so that practitioners can successfully design instances of those solutions for themselves. The goal of scientific research, on the other hand, is to separate that which is known from that which is only believed, suspected, or conjectured. So, can a solution informed only by inspired intuition make a rigorous and lasting contribution to science? Yes, if it is developed under the disciplines of Exploratory Research. A design solution informed by a scientific theory can likewise make a rigorous contribution if it is developed under the disciplines of experimental research. The disciplines of Theoretical Research and Applied Science/Engineering research can also enhance our technical research, leading us to counter-intuitive design choices that make us look like the geniuses we aspire to be, while leaving us with rigorous scientific findings that we can publish in top-quality journals. But only if we know the disciplines.

In this seminar we explore the goals, research products, and standards of rigor for the four modes of inquiry that comprise Scientific Method: Exploratory, Theoretical, Experimental, and Applied Science/Engineering research. In the process, we break scientific method into an elegant sequence of practical disciplines, each of which both builds on and contributes to the ones that precede it. We practice each discipline together in the context of interest to the seminar participants, so bring an intriguing problem with you to class. We will examine the philosophical logic and the pragmatic value of each of the disciplines for our technical research.

This class would be of particular value to: a) doctoral students working on dissertation proposals; b) new doctoral students seeking their first introduction to scientific inquiry; c) seasoned technical researchers who would like to broaden the range of intellectual tools they can bring to bear on their design challenges.

* This course will be divided into two parts. Part 1 (Exploratory and Theoretical Research) will be taught on June 25th and 26th. Part 2 (Experimental and Applied Research) will be taught on June 27th and 29th. You can take any one of these two parts or both. You can also decide which or both parts you want to attend onsite to avoid conflicts with the other lectures you choose.

Context-aware computing (ECTS: 0.5 Doctoral Course)

You can download the slides for this course from here PDF1, PDF2.

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Anind Dey (Carnegie Mellon University)

Context-aware computing is an area that has moved from research into the real-world. Everyday, new apps that take into account one's location are available on mobile phone marketplaces. But, there is so much more to context-awareness than location. In this seminar, we will discuss the fundamentals of context-aware computing, the current state of the art, and advanced research topics. In a hands-on session, we will dissect current exciting context-aware applications/apps and understand how to practically use context in building next generation applications.

Similarity Queries in Database Systems (ECTS: 0.5 Doctoral Course)

You can download the slides for this course from here PDF

Instructor:  Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Augsten (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)

Traditional database systems are designed to answer exact queries. In many applications, however, exact answers are not enough. For example, when the data are dirty and contain spelling mistakes, exact queries return only a subset of the relevant tuples. Similarity queries, in addition to exact answers, also include answers that only partially match the query. Due to the poor support of similarity queries in current database systems, such queries are often answered by specialized software. The focus of this course are new techniques that allow similarity queries to be answered inside database systems. Such an approach is more flexible, does not need to export data from the database, and can leverage mature database technology like query optimization, concurrency control and logging. The course will introduce core techniques for similarity queries, discuss approaches that deal with flat and complex data types, and point to open research questions in the field.

Theories and Methodologies of Social Network Analysis (ECTS: 0.5 Methodology)

You can download the slides for this course from here PDF

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Ulrik Brandes (University of Konstanz)

This is an introduction to the theory and methodology of social network analysis. Participants will learn about substantive interests in the social sciences, and acquire a new view of the role, challenges, and possible benefits of visualization in these domains

Topics in Social Computing (ECTS: 0.5 Doctoral Course)

  You can download the slides for this course from here PDF

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Yiling Chen (Harvard University)

Social computing is an emerging research area where human creativity and resources are harnessed for the purpose of computational tasks. Computation in social computing is broadly defined. For example, it may refer to aggregation of dispersed information, creation of semantic labels for images, or the formation of reputations. Social computing systems are now ubiquitous on the web -- prediction markets at Intrade.comgenerate accurate probabilistic forecasts for many political and economic events; the ESP game has obtained enormous descriptive labels for images at almost zero cost; Amazon's Mechanical Turk has become a popular online marketplace for micro-tasks; and Topcoder, an online competition platform for software development, develops high-quality, commercial-level software with only a third of the cost and time that the traditional software development process would need. In this course, I will focus on a few topics in social computing, including prediction markets, human computation, and crowdsourcing. The course is self-contained. Background in microeconomics is helpful but not necessary.

Research Methods in Computer Science (ECTS: 0.5 Methodology)

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Serge Demeyer (University of Antwerp)

Tutorial Notes

This tutorial is aimed at Ph.D. students who want to have a better grasp on what exactly is “good” research. We will explore the role of research methods in computer science, drawing upon practical examples from empirical approaches in software engineering.

After this tutorial, a Ph.D. student will be able to …
 * Name and explain different approaches to conduct computer science research (i.e. feasibility study, case study, comparative study, literature survey, …).
 * Understand the peer reviewing process inherent in academic research, including the implications it has for their own research (i.e. writing papers).

  Visual Effectiveness of Modeling Notations (ECTS: 0.5 Doctoral Course) 

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Patrick Heymans (University of Namur)

Visual modeling notations are ubiquitous in software engineering. However, the visual (aka concrete) syntax of such notations is currently designed in a largely ad hoc and unscientific manner, without reference to theory or empirical evidence. This is problematic since human understanding of models relies as much on syntax as semantics. The aim of this tutorial is to establish a scientific basis for visual notation design: to help it progress from a “craft” (as it currently exists) into a design discipline. It presents a set of principles defined by Daniel Moody and called The "Physics" of Notations. These are evidence-based principles for designing cognitively effective visual notations: notations that are optimised for human communication and problem solving. Each principle will be introduced and illustrated with  examples and hands-on exercises. The students will be involved in analysing and re-desiging existing notations such as UML, BPMN and i*.

You can download the slides for these courses from:


  Prof. Dr. Robert O. Briggs (San Diego State University)

Robert O. Briggs, Professor of Management Information Systems and Director of Doctoral Studies at San Diego State University, researches the cognitive foundations of collaboration and applies his findings to the design and deployment of new collaboration systems and practices in commercial, non-profit, military, and academic organizations. He has raised more than $9 million in research grants, and has published more than 200 scholarly works on theoretical, experimental, and applied aspects of collaboration science, and has been consistently ranked among the top 100 MIS researchers worldwide for the past 20 years. 

He is co-founder of the field of Collaboration Engineering and co-inventor of the ThinkLets design pattern language for collaborative work practices.  He designed and deployed several large-scale prototype collaboration systems.  Among them were the ActionCenters Computer Assisted Collaboration Engineering (CACE) platform, under funding from the U.S. Air Force, and the Cognito system under funding from GroupSystems Corporation, who subsequently marketed it as GroupSystems II.  He was a founding fellow of the Center for Collaboration Science at the University of Arizona, and a founding director of the Center for Collaboration Science at University of Nebraska at Omaha, which raised $6 million in grants during its first five years.  He lectures on collaboration systems and on applications of the philosophy of science to technical research at universities and conferences around the world. 

He earned his bachelor’s degree with a double major in Information and Decision Systems and Art History from San Diego State University, where he was named Outstanding Graduating MIS student in 1986.  He also earned his MBA at San Diego State in 1987, and earned his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems at University of Arizona in 1994.

Prof. Dr. Anind Dey (Carnegie Mellon University)

Bio: Prof. Anind K. Dey is an Associate Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and is director of the Ubicomp Lab. He conducts research at the intersection of human-computer interaction, machine learning and ubiquitous computing, and has published over 100 papers in these areas. He serves on the editorial board of IEEE Pervasive and the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal, among others. Anind received his PhD in computer science from Georgia Tech, along with a Masters of Science in both Computer Science and Aerospace Engineerin

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Augsten (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)

Nikolaus Augsten is an assistant professor in computer science at the Free University of Bolzano, Italy. He received his PhD from Aalborg University, Denmark, in 2008. His research interests include data-centric applications in database and information systems with a particular focus on approximate matching techniques for complex data structures, efficient index structures for distance computations, and similarity search in massive data collections.

Prof. Dr. Ulrik Brandes (University of Konstanz)

Prof. Dr. Ulrik Brandes is a Professor for Computer Science at the University of Konstanz. With a background in algorithmics, his main interests are in network analysis and visualization, with application to social networks in particular.

He is a member of the board of directors of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA), associate editor of Social Networks, and area editor of Network Science. He is also a member of the Graph Drawing Steering Committee, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Graph Algorithms and Applications.

In a Reinhart Koselleck-Project Social Network Algorithmics funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), he takes a shot at improving the methodological foundation of network analysis.

Prof. Dr. Yiling Chen (Harvard University)

Yiling Chen is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. in Information Sciences and Technology from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to working at Harvard, she spent two years at the Microeconomic and Social Systems group of Yahoo! Research in New York City.

Her current research focuses on topics at the intersection of computer science and economics. She is interested in designing and analyzing social computing systems according to both computational and economic objectives. Yiling received an ACM EC outstanding paper award and an NSF Career award, and was selected by IEEE Intelligent Systems as one of "AI's 10 to Watch" in 2011. She is the editor-in-chief of SIGecom Exchanges, the newsletter of the ACM Special Interest Group on E-commerce. 

Prof. Dr. Serge Demeyer (University of Antwerp)

Serge Demeyer is a Professor at the University of Antwerp (Department of Mathematics and Computer Science) and the spokesperson for the ANSYMO (Antwerp System Modelling) research group. He directs a research lab investigating the theme of "Software Reengineering" (LORE - Lab On REengineering).

His main research interest concerns software reengineering, more specifically the evolution of object-oriented software systems. He is an active member of the corresponding international research communities, serving in various conference organization and program committees. He has written a book entitled "Object-Oriented Reengineering" and edited a book on "Software Evolution". He also authored numerous peer reviewed articles, manyof them in highly respected scientific journals.

He completed his M.Sc. in 1987 and his Ph.D. in 1996, both at the "Vrije Universiteit Brussel". After his Ph.D., he worked for three years in Switzerland, where he served as a technical co-ordinator of an European research project. Switzerland remains near and dear to his heart, witness the sabbatical leave during 2009-2010 at the University of Zürich in the research group SEAL.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Heymans (University of Namur)

Patrick Heymans is Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Namur, Belgium. He is a founding member and current co-director of the PReCISE research centre (50 researchers) where he leads the Requirements Engineering and Software Product Lines activities. He is also a visiting professor at INRIA Lille-Nord Europe, University of Lille 1 and CNRS, France.

Patrick’s main research interests are in the application of formal and visual modeling techniques to improve the quality of software products and processes. He has (co-)supervised 7 completed PhD theses and 8 more are under way. Patrick is (co-)author of over 100 peer-reviewed international scientific publications, and has managed externally funded research projects for over 10M Euros.

Patrick regularly acts as an advisor and trainer for IT companies and is a permanent scientific advisor for CETIC, Wallonia's major applied research institute in software engineering. Patrick is associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. He has chaired the program of the two major Requirements Engineering conferences: REFSQ in 2007 and 2009, and RE in 2011. He is also serving as Steering Committee Chair for REFSQ. He is a regular referee for top international journals and conferences in the field of software engineering. 

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