Research Themes

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Prof. Fortino's research is mainly focused on methodologies, frameworks and tools for programming distributed computing systems. In particular, the research lines he is currently pursuing are: (1) Agent-based Computing; (2) Content Distribution Networks; (3) Wireless Sensor Networks. Moreover, past research lines were focused on distributed multimedia systems, real-time systems and distributed measurement systems.

1. Agent Based Computing has shown great potential and flexibility for designing and developing complex distributed systems and applications in a variety of industrial sectors ranging from telecommunications to manufacturing; in fact software agents are particularly suited for developing applications that require distributed components which collaborate on common goals or compete to maximize their results.

His research activity on Agent Based Computing focuses on three topical research themes:

- Agent Oriented Software Engineering (AOSE). The aim is to define agent-oriented modeling techniques and methods which fully support the development of complex software systems by using the agent-oriented paradigm. The main outcome of this research theme is the definition of ELDAMeth, a Statecharts-based methodology supporting rapid prototyping of multi agent systems from their modeling to their implementation and validation through simulation. ELDAMeth is supported by the ELDATool, a CASE tool for automating the aforementioned phases. Moreover, ELDAMeth was integrated with Gaia and PASSI through the method engineering paradigm to cover all the phases of the development lifecycle. The integration with PASSI, called PASSIM, was carried out with Massimo Cossentino (the PASSI creator) from the ICAR/CNR, Palermo, Italy. [see Related publications]

- Agent Interoperability. The aim is to define suitable frameworks and related approaches for enabling execution, migration and communication interoperability between heterogeneous Java-based mobile agent platforms. The main outcome of this research theme is the definition and implementation of a software layer, the Java-based Interoperable Mobile Agent Framework (JIMAF), which can be layered atop heterogeneous Java-based agent platforms, and allows programmers to develop heterogeneous agent-based applications based on interoperable mobile agents able to execute on heterogeneous Java-based agent platforms, to migrate among them and to communicate regardless of the platforms on which the agents operate. In addition, interoperable wrapper agents were defined to wrap platform-dependent agents to provide the relevant feature of code reuse in heterogeneous agent-based applications. [see Related publications]

- Agent-based and Multi-Agent Applications. The aim is to develop complex and heterogeneous agent-based applications in several strategic business domains. The main outcome of this research theme is the use of the methodologies and frameworks obtained in the first two research themes for the development of several agent-based applications in different business and application domains: e-Commerce, multimedia systems, distributed data mining, wireless sensor networks, workflow management. [see Related publications]

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2. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have recently emerged as an innovative technology to improve the efficiency of static, time-dependent and rich media content delivery atop large-scale IP-based networks. In particular, CDNs maintain geographically distributed clusters of surrogate servers, positioned at the network edge, that store copies of identical content, so that users' requests can be met by the optimal surrogates. The benefits of using CDNs are significant and involve not only more efficient content delivery but also decongestion of the network core.

His research activity on CDNs focuses on two topical research themes:

- Synchronous collaborative streaming services supported by CDNs. The aim is to define models, protocols and architectures for supporting collaborative media streaming through CDNs on IP-based networks. The main outcome of this research theme is the development and evaluation of the COMODIN (Cooperative Media On Demand on the Internet) system, a research effort jointly carried out with the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (Spain). The COMODIN system is based on a CDN infrastructure and provides the collaborative media playback service that represents an enabling Internet-based interactive media service for e-Learning and e-Entertainment which allows an explicitly-formed group of clients to view and control cooperatively a shared remote media playback. The performance evaluation of the COMODIN system indicates that, with respect to the state-of-the-art solutions based on centralized servers, CDN-based solutions can be more effective as, not only the performance of the media content delivery is greatly improved, which is the main benefit provided by a CDN, but the performance of the streaming control is also higher. The COMODIN system was jointly developed with the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain. [see Related publications]

- CDN architectures based on P2P, Grid and Agent technologies. The aim is to define new architectures based on three emerging technologies (P2P, Grid and Agents) to ease the design and boost the efficiency of next generation CDNs. The main outcome of the this research theme is the development and evaluation of the UPGRADE-CDN (Using P2P, GRID and Agents for the Development of CDN) system, a CDN platform based on P2P, Grid and Agent paradigms and technologies. The components of UPGRADE-CDN (AMonitor, GRedirector and CoDelivery) were built on the basis of the most appropriate emerging technology according to the results of pioneering research efforts available in the literature. AMonitor is based on Agents which effectively support dynamic and reconfigurable network monitoring systems; GRedirector is based on GRID which robustly and efficiently supports deployment and access to distributed services such as redirection to replicas and replica management; CoDelivery is based on P2P which efficiently supports content delivery. Finally, the performance evaluation phase carried out through agent-based simulation has shown that UPGRADE-CDN has the potential to be more efficient with respect to conventional CDN architectures. [see Related publications]

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3. Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) can be described as collections of wireless sensor nodes which coordinate to perform some specific action. Unlike traditional networks, WSNs depend on dense deployment and coordination to carry out their tasks. Nowadays WSNs are becoming powerful platforms for distributed embedded computing which aim at supporting strategic and high-impact applications such as disaster/crime prevention and military applications, environmental monitoring applications, health care applications, and home automation and smart environments.

His research activity on WSNs, recently established, focuses on two topical research themes:

- Agent-based Specification Languages and Systems. The aim is to define specification languages based on the agent paradigm and, more generally, agent-oriented methodologies for facilitating the design and the implementation of WSN applications. The main outcome of this research theme is a specification language for programming WSN applications which combines the agent-based model with event-driven and state-based programming so as to exploit the most valuable features of these three paradigms. In particular, this language relies on a lightweight agent model based on events and states, named Event-driven Lightweight Distilled Statecharts-based Agent (ELDA) model. Moreover, a high-level run-time architecture has been also defined which supports execution, resource access, communication and migration of ELDA agents over WSNs. The language was used to model the well-known EnviroTrack application, a pioneering WSN application for tracking mobile objects. [see Related publications]

- Body Sensor Networks (BSN) for activity monitoring. The aim is to define and implement new services and protocols as well as applications atop BSN to monitor the activity of individuals or groups of individuals for health-care, wellness and fitness. The main outcome of this research theme is the development of an application and related services for the recognition of postures and movements of individuals. Such application is based on TelosB tmote SKY equipped with accelerometers and gyroscopes for acquiring the individual-related data, TinyOS/nesC for programming the sensor nodes, and Java for the implementation of the base station application. In particular, two enabling components were developed in nesC/TinyOS: (i) a framework for the real-time extraction of features on the acquired data; (ii) an application-level protocol for the configuration of the sensor nodes activity at run-time. This research work is being jointly carried out with the Telecom/Pirelli WSN Lab, Berkeley (CA), USA. Currently, this research activity has fostered the SPINE project. [see Related publications]

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Past research lines can be summarized as follows:

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Distributed Multimedia Systems
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Actor-based modeling, analysis and implementation of multimedia systems

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Media on-demand Systems

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Real-time Systems
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CRSM (Communicating Realtime State Machines) and Hierarchical CRSM for Distributed Real-Time Systems

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Hierarchical Actors for Distributed Real-Time Systems

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Coloured Petri Nets and Actors for Distributed Real-Time Systems

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Distributed Measurement Systems
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Java Distributed Programming Patterns

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Mobile Agents for Distributed Measurement Systems

Research Collaborations

Research collaborations are currently engaged with:

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Prof. Carlos E. Palau from the Department of Communications of the University Politechnique of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.

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Dr. Carlo Mastroianni from the ICAR/CNR, Rende (CS), Italy.

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Dr. Massimo Cossentino from ICAR/CNR, Palermo, Italy.

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Dr. Giuseppe Di Fatta from University of Reading, UK.

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Dr. Marco Sgroi from Telecom/Pirelli WSN Lab/University of Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.

Past research collaborations were established with:

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The International Computer Science Institute, Berkeley, USA.

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The LIS group at University of Calabria, Rende (CS), Italy.

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Dr. Eugenio Zimeo from the University of Sannio/RCOST, Benevento, Italy.

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The AVR (Advanced Virtual Reasearch) Inc., Castrolibero (CS), Italy.