by Jouko Väänänen and Ulrich Trottenberg

Mathematics saturates everyday life more and more. It is used not only in large applications running on huge computers to predict weather or to calculate parameters for an expensive industrial process or marketing strategy: it has now become ubiquitous in the more mundane aspects of our existence. A good example is the mobile phone. Mobile phone technology depends heavily on such fundamental areas of mathematics as analysis, algebra, and number theory.

by Mikko Kaasalainen and Lassi Päivärinta

Mathematical analysis can make visible the insides of objects such as our bodies, rivers or the Earth, and is revealing entire new worlds in space. It may also work in the opposite way in designing tricks that hide things from our view.

by Albert Ali Salah

A surgeon about to operate on a small region within the brain has a difficult job. By listening to the sounds of voltage discharge patterns of single neurons, recorded with very fine needles inserted into the brain just prior to the operation, expert surgeons try to determine whether or not they are on target. Can real-time signal processing and analysis help the surgeon?

by Thierry Simonnet

Hidden Markov Models, Bayesian statistics, cryptography, relational algebra, signal filters, the Harris detector and wavelet transforms are among the mathematical tools necessary to set up a telemedicine platform developed by ESIEE-Paris (Ecole Supérieure d'Ingénieurs en Electronique et Electrotechnique). The platform offers medical and communication services to patients, especially for cases of pre-Alzheimer's disease.

by Michael Muskulus and Sjoerd Verduyn-Lunel

Diseases influence the dynamics of normal physiological processes, and by analysing measurements of the latter it is possible to accurately and automatically detect and diagnose diseases. It is a fact that diseases with similar symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed and treated, but methods such as ours can help prevent this. The method itself is based on calculating abstract distances between time series of measurements.

by Mats Gyllenberg

The accelerating speed at which species are becoming extinct is of major and worldwide concern. Usually human activity is blamed, but while the destruction of natural habitat and the emission of greenhouse gases are certainly affecting the ecology of many species, are they the only causes of species extinction? Is it possible that natural selection could drive a species to extinction? A crude view is that evolution is a process with a certain direction: simple organisms evolve into more complicated ones, weaker individuals are selected against and thus evolution produces stronger and stronger populations. This view is simply false. Natural selection acts at the level of individuals (in fact, at the level of genes) and it is quite possible that what is advantageous for the individual turns out to be disastrous for the species.

by Mario Arioli and Daniel Loghin

Image processing is ubiquitous in modern life. Digital cameras on cellular phones or other devices produce an incredible number of pictures that are normally stored and processed on PCs. In addition to normal family pictures, sources such as CCTV cameras, satellites and telescopes acquire from the earth and from the far reaches of the universe images that need some form of post-processing.

by Pascal Pellegrin, François-Olivier Devaux and Pedro Correa

After a long birth we can now safely assume that digital cinema is with us to stay, bringing the best picture quality to cinemas. Among the numerous changes required to revolutionize the cinema industry is the need for video compression. Despite the recognition of MPEG standards, JPEG 2000 has been chosen to fulfil this task thanks to its scalability and compression quality. Licence-free and based on the wavelet technology, this format is bringing flexibility to digital cinema.

by Umberto Amato, Maria Francesca Carfora and Paolo Colandrea

Recent results from the WAGRIT project (Web for AGRIculture and environmenT), funded by the Italian Space Agency, have seen the development of algorithms for the classification and segmentation of remotely sensed images. The goal is to provide a client-server Internet application for agricultural monitoring of cultivated areas, exploiting remotely sensed high spectral resolution images.

by Argiris I. Delis, Serafim Poulos, Nikolaos A. Kampanis and Costantin E. Synolakis

Waves represent a driving force affecting coastal and urban areas. Mathematical models and their computational counterparts can provide simulation and forecasting tools that help us study their behaviour. FORTH-IACM is participating in European projects that are working to forecast the behaviour and effects of flood waves and tsunamis. This involves both exploiting and further developing existing simulation expertise and experience in field measurements and observation methods. These are envisaged to be a necessary complement to high-fidelity mathematical models.

by Jörg-Volker Peetz, Barbara Steckel and Norman Ettrich

The 2002 flooding of the Elbe River in Dresden, Germany, showed that apart from the obvious destruction caused by surface water, considerable damage was caused by groundwater and water from the sewer system. Groundwater levels can rise quickly due to overflowing sewers or above-ground flow, causing basement flooding and structural damage to houses. Thus, a coupled simulation of the three components - surface water, groundwater and the sewer system - is important for flood risk management.

by Daan Crommelin

The performance of numerical models that simulate atmosphere and oceans is essential to weather prediction and climate research, both of which are topics of obvious societal relevance. In the past, the quality of weather forecasts and climate simulations has increased thanks to several developments. Increases in computer power, more detailed observations concerning the state of the atmosphere and oceans, and theoretical advances in the formulation of numerical models have all contributed to the better performance of weather and climate simulations.

by Panagiotis T. Nastos, Nikolaos A. Kampanis, George Kochiadakis, Panagiotis Vardas and Kostas I. Strataridakis

Air pollution and weather have an impact on public health through their effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular system. An early-warning system can be operated where mathematical simulations, forecasting and statistical tools are able to exploit measurements and observations. It is expected that our system will cooperate with the weather-monitoring network of the Natural Disasters & Risk Assessment Facility of the Region of Crete. A pilot study has been initiated by IACM-FORTH and the cardiology department at the University Hospital of Crete.

by Barry Koren

The flow of water around a ship powered by a combustion engine is a key factor in the ship's fuel consumption. The simulation of flow patterns around ship hulls is therefore an important aspect of ship design. While lengthy computations are required for such simulations, research by Jeroen Wackers and Barry Koren has shown that these computations can be conducted with much greater speed.

by Rob van der Mei

Over the past few decades, information and communication technology has affected everyday life and changed our society dramatically. Today, our service-oriented economy largely depends on the proper planning of societal processes, including for example healthcare logistics, traffic and railroad planning, and capacity planning of communication systems. This has created the need for in-depth knowledge about societal logistics, the proper planning of societal processes.

by Daniela Steffes-lai, Clemens-August Thole, Igor Nikitin and Lialia Nikitina

Product optimization is an important step in the process of product development. How does the behaviour of a product change when certain parameters are varied? The answer is given by the optimization environment DesParO.

by András A. Benczúr and Miklós Kurucz

Recommender systems suggest products, movies, books or news articles based on earlier behaviour such as the known ratings of users. The recommender system of the Data Mining and Web Search Group of SZTAKI recently won a major recommender benchmarking competition, Task 1 of the KDD Cup 2007.

by Ivan Damgård and Tomas Toft

Information is a valuable resource in modern society and confidentiality is thus an important issue. However, it is often possible to obtain significant added value by combining information from different sources. A fascinating question is whether it might be possible to obtain the advantages of sharing information without the costs of unwanted leakages. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes, and the solution involves a combination of computer science, mathematics and information economics. We present the first real application of techniques from the Danish research project Secure Information Management and Processing (SIMAP), in which the authors have been involved.

by Pierluigi Contucci and Cristian Giardina

Is modern science able to study social matters like those related to immigration phenomena on solid mathematical grounds? Can we for instance determine cultural robustness and the causes behind abrupt changes from cultural legacies? Can we predict, cause or avoid swings? A novel approach is under investigation using the statistical mechanics formalism devised for the study of phase transitions in physics.

by Olga Caprotti and Mika Seppälä

The level of education of their workforces determines the success of nations in global competition. Quantitative reasoning and the ability to apply mathematical methods in general will be the most important components in the skill set of tomorrow's workforce, meaning mathematics education has great strategic importance. The question of how to educate more people in mathematics, preferably with fewer resources, is an equation that cannot be solved by mathematics alone: computer science and linguistics are also needed. The WebALT eContent project has developed solutions that automate parts of mathematics instruction. Automation is the only way to improve the delivery of education, and to offer the opportunity to learn to everybody.

by Matteo Viale

The continuum is arguably the most fundamental object in all of mathematics. It is the concept behind virtually all measurements. But how many real numbers are there? How many points are on a line in Euclidean space? This is one of the great mysteries of mathematics, and it can be proven to be a mystery: by the work of Cohen in 1963, the methods sufficient for 'everyday mathematics' are inadequate for solving this problem. Here we report recent progress on this question.

Next issue: July 2018
Special theme:
Human-Robot Interaction
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