Master Thesis proposal 2014 - 15



If you are interested in any of the projects listed below, please contact:

Dr. Paolo Pagano, tel: 050 88 22 77

email: paolo.pagano AT


A) Multimedia Sensor Networks


WSN are usually deployed through a set of embedded devices, equipped by constrained resources (like computing capabilities and resident memory) and interconnected by a low rate, unreliable wireless network.

Multimedia sensing is a challenging perspective to give “Eyes and Ears” to sensor devices and create added-value to distributed applications in ad-hoc networks.


Thesis A.1)


This thesis consists in the design and implementation of a video CODEC for embedded systems with low computational capability and limited memory (i.e., PIC32). The project consists inimplementing a set of lightweight functions tailored to microcontrollers. The CODEC must be robust against bit flips occurring through noisy links.

To fulfill these requirements it is suggested to exploit both intra-frame compression (based on a modified error-resilient state-of-the-art compressor, as JPEG, JPG-LS, JPG2000) and inter-frame compression (based on background subtraction and background modeling).


Thesis A.2)


The dogma of signal processing maintains that a signal must be sampled at a rate at least twice its highest frequency in order to be represented without error. However, in practice, we often compress the data soon after sensing, trading off signal representation complexity (bits) for some error (consider JPEG image compression in digital cameras, for example). Clearly, this is wasteful of valuable sensing resources. Over the past few years, a new theory of "compressive sensing" has begun to emerge, in which the signal is sampled (and simultaneously compressed) at a greatly reduced rate (see on-line resources at:


This thesis consists in the design and implementation of compressive sampling techniques for optimizing the total energy dissipated in a distributed multimedia application for WSN.


Thesis A.3)


This thesis consists in the design and implementation of a calibration technique aimed at aligning the sensing peripherals after an imprecise installation phase. Moreover a very simple distributed tracking application is required in order to validate the above mentioned technique.


Thesis A.4)


Speech communications in WMSNs have been recently proposed to support emergency situations. In such a context the network is required to change at runtime its functionality in order to support the new service. Moreover, a network reorganization is required to support QoS.

The thesis will define and implement a Bandwidth allocation protocol targeted to Speech communications on WMSNs. The main goal of the protocol will be the research of a trade-off between QoSand required transmission bandwidth by using a speech coder with multiple bitrates (e.g., G726 - 16, 24, 32 , 40 kbit/s).

Thesis A.5)


We propose a thesis where the candidate is expected to port the GSM AMR speech coder to a microcontroller architecture. A comprehensive perform evaluation will be done in a real WMSN scenario considering multiple data protection techniques.

B) Localization techniques


In the “Smart Ambients” domain a prominent application is that of locating and tracking moving objects.For the unavailability of the GNSS signal in indoor scenarios, usual trends consider the deployment of a WSN to set up a mesh of geo-referenced anchors and propose a diversified set of algorithms (usually classified in “range-based” and “range-free”) as localization techniques. A competing and complementary approach is that of relying on inertial sensors to estimate the motion and quantify the displacement of the mobile entity.


Thesis B.1)


This thesis consists in the design and implementation of a WSN and RFID hybrid solution to support localization services in the indoor environment. Low-complexity RFID reader will be integrated in WSN nodes to act as anchor of the localization system, thus overcoming the limits of an RSSI-based approach. Moreover, inertial sensors and PIR will be used to estimate the position when system anchors are not available.



C) Simulation platforms

Distributed signal processing with WMSNs is a complex problem that requires skills from several areas, ranging from networking to control theory,from computer vision (signal processing) to data management. A holistic approach is necessary to address complementary and interdependent issues inherited from all these disciplines.

A realistic simulation environment represents an enabling environment to study and develop effective solutions for distributed (eventually collaborative) visual processing. The Wireless Simulation Environment for Multimedia Networks (WiSE-MNet), based on Castalia/OMNet++, is a simulation environment to model the communication layers, the sensing and distributed application logic (algorithm) of a WMSN.


Thesis C.1)


The goal addressed by WiSE-MNet is to estimate the impact of a real network over a distributed algorithm through simulation. However the logic inside the node is not exploited: in this thesis we propose to integrate Virtual Machines (emulating the ERIKA and Contiki micro-kernels) into WiSE-MNet. In this situation it will be possible to assess the performances at node and network levels, i.e. on-board and distributed capabilities. To test this complete simulator we propose to implement a simple computer vision distributed application as the one published in the following paper:

○     C. Salvadori, M. Petracca, R. Pelliccia, M. Ghibaudi and P. Pagano, “Video Streaming in Wireless Sensor Networks with Low-complexity Change Detection Enforcement” in Proceedings of Baltic Conference on Future Internet Communications, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012, (ISBN: 9781467316705)

○     C. Salvadori, M. Petracca, S. Madeo, S. Bocchino, and P. Pagano, “Video Streaming Applications in Wireless Camera Networks: a change detection based approach targeted to 6LoWPAN”, to be published in Elsevier Journal of System Architecture, special issue on Smart Camera Architecture, 2013.


D) Internet of Things


The Internet of Things (IoT) vision has recently drawn the attention of the research community thanks to the wide diffusion of the Internet to new, miniaturized, and low-cost smart objects. The main idea in the IoT concept is to interconnect different kinds of common objects, each one addressable for exchanging data through a single world-wide network. In this regard a significant and promising trend is given by the integration of the Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) with the Internet.

Our Seed-Eye boards implement the specifications given by IEEE802.15.4, IETF4919 (6LoWPAN) standards, and IETF CoAP draft of standard.

Thesis D.1)

WSNs consist of low-cost autonomous sensor devices which interact with each other in a wireless distributed system. Each sensor has very limited battery capacity, limited processor capability and limited storage capacity. Multicast paradigm reduces the communication costs for applications that send the same data to multiple recipients: instead of sending via multiple unicasts, multicasting minimizes the link bandwidth consumption, sender and router processing, and delivery delay.

The thesis will design and implement a Multicast protocol for Wireless Sensor Network. The main goal is to define a native multicast support for6LoWPAN network (IPv6 over Lossy and Low Power Network,IETF 4919 standard).The experimental validation activity will be performed in a real scenario.


Thesis D.2)

 The IEEE802.15.4e standard defines MAC amendment to the existing IEEE802.15.4-2011 standard. One mode, called Time Synchronized Channel Hopping, significantly increases robustness against external interference and persistent multi-path fading, while running on legacy IEEE802.15.4 hardware. TSCH was designed to “allow IEEE802.15.4 devices to support a wide range of industrial applications”. At its core is a medium access technique which uses time synchronization to achieve ultra low-power operation and channel hopping to enable high reliability. The IETF 6TiSCH working groups standardizes mechanisms of running an IPv6-enabled protocol stack on top of IEEE802.15.4e TSCH.

The thesis consists in the implementation of the IEEE802.15.4e TSCH mechanism and of the 6TiSCH: "IPv6 over the TSCH mode of IEEE 802.15.4e".






Thesis D.3)

In the Internet of Things, following the Restful model, the nodes are expected to publish available data sets and services as public URIs to interact with other nodes. In this thesis the candidate is expected to: (i) design and implement a resource directory following the IETF specifications as in [1,2]; (ii) to test the proposed implementation in real world case studies.




Thesis D.4)

Real-time programming in the Internet of Things. Starting from an existing research prototype (consisting in the Contiki OS [1] linked to the ERIKA Enterprise real-time kernel [2]), the candidate is required to develop appropriate scheduling policies (e.g. based on the FRSH resource reservation protocols) permitting to run logic on-board functions (delivered through ERIKA) without disrupting internetworking (delivered through Contiki).





E) Intelligent Transport Systems


Vehicular Ad-hoc NETworks (VANET) are a special instance of nomadic networks where the mobile entities (i.e. cars) are expected to exchange information (vehicle to vehicle -- V2V) via the wireless channel. VANET technologies are considered as the basis of Intelligent Transport Systems; yet another challenge is that of interconnecting vehicular equipment with the road-side network (vehicle to infrastructure -- V2I).


Our Seed-Eye boards are being customized to implement the ITS stations functionality (as standardized by ISO and ETSI) in tiny devices (like WSN):


●     G. Pellerano, "6LoWPAN conform ITS-Station for non safety-critical services and applications" 


This activity has been preliminarily approved for standardization purposes as ISO Work Items #19079 and #19080 (Paolo Pagano editing these Technical Specifications on behalf of CNIT at ISO TC 204 WG16).


Although Radio Frequency is the preferred technology for enabling V2I and V2V communication (see for instance the M/453 mandate by the European Commission to ETSI and CEN), alternative communication means are being promoted by the scientific community. A notable example is offered by Visible Light Communication (VLC).


Within this research line we already achieved the following results:


●     R. Corsini, R. Pelliccia, G. Cossu, A. M. Khalid, M. Ghibaudi, M. Petracca, P. Pagano, E. Ciaramella, "Free Space Optical Communication in the Visible Bandwidth for V2V Safety Critical Protocols", in Proceedings of 8th International Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing Conference (IWCMC), Cyprus, 27-31 August 2012.

●     A. Bellè, “Design and implementation of IEEE802.15.7-compliant services in Visible-light Personal Area Networks composed by low-cost embedded systems” (pdf) (slides)



Thesis E.1)


This thesis will consider the IPv6 adaptation to IEEE802.15.7 in order to allow layer-3 networking in Visible-light Personal Area Networks as 6LoWPAN does for IEEE802.15.4.

The working prototypes (developed within the Bellè’s work reported above, consisting in a modification of the Seed-Eye Board) will be extended for the layer-3 services. The ERIKA or Contiki OS will be used for the software implementation.

Interoperability tests (with high-end devices and ordinary IEEE802.15.4 wireless motes) will validate the thesis work.

Thesis E.2)

This thesis will consider multi-mac networking in compliance with IEEE 802.21 standards enabling handover and interoperability between heterogeneous network types including both 802 and non 802 networks. Since the “VLC Seed-Eye” is equiped by IEEE802.15.4 and IEEE802.15.7 compliant adapters, actual performance measurements will be done in the specific case study of vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.


F) Abstraction of Wireless Sensor Networks


As applications become more and more interconnected and interdependent, the number of objects, users and devices tends to increase. This poses the problem of the scalability of the communication and object management algorithms, and increases the complexity of administration. Ubiquitous Computing is a vision of the near future, in which an increasing number of devices embedded in various physical objects will be participating in a global information network.

To set up a common ground of abstraction, a middleware layer should hide the heterogeneity of the network and the complexity of services and applications.

A prominent objective is that of implementing a code execution service at the node level by implementing a virtual machine capable of executing scripts or bytecodes.

Our Seed-Eye boards implement the Pymite interpreter to support the execution of scripts.

Thesis F.1)


This thesis consists in the design and implementation of a network service for the rapid prototyping of functions and primitives.

Leveraging the previous work on the same subject the candidate is asked to apply tools and techniques to a real-world case study (e.g. distributed vision algorithms).


Thesis F.2)


When dealing with a heterogeneous set of resources (notably sensor devices at the collection layer, storage, and computation units) the usual trend is that of setting up a virtual architecture capable of providing “high-level” services by interoperating the active devices integrated therein.

 This thesis consists in the design and implementation of a monitoring and administration interface for Wireless Sensor Networks. The system should allow the users to:

    1. interact with the WSN on different abstraction levels: physical (sensors and actuators) and logical (virtual sensors, high-level services);

    2. realize the high-level composition of services.

The resulting system will complement PyoT, high-level programming interface for IoT networks. Previous experience in GUI design, web and mobile application development will be an advantage.



    2. Andrea Azzarà, Daniele Alessandrelli, Stefano Bocchino, Matteo Petracca, and Paolo Pagano, “PyoT, a Macroprogramming Framework for the Internet of Things”, in Proceedings of 9th IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Embedded Systems. Pisa, Italy 18-20 June 2014. 

G) Large-scale computing networks

(in collaboration with the IT department at CERN)


Cloud Services are increasingly popular among users (including in academics).
At variance with previous approaches, users can access in an optimised way their working environment (including data storage) from a variety of mobile devices.
One of the most interesting feature (especially for researchers collaborating across the boundaries of a given institute) is the possibility to seamlessly share part of their data with their colleagues.
The offer of such services is rather broad and one successful example is dropbox ( and in many cases these services could be accessed at no cost.
On the other hand end users (and their organisations) have little control on the data (durability, availability, confidentiality) since the data are stored in the servers of the service provider and the terms of the service-level agreement might be unclear.


The IT department at CERN ( is investigating to build a service to synchronise and share data as a possible evolution of the current distributed filesystems.
These services should match the interesting features of commercial solutions in terms of usability but also our organisation data policies.
The goal is to provide such a service to all the community if researchers and engineers involved in the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) project both at CERN and in the collaborating institutes (10,000 users – 1 PB available space).

Thesis G.1)

There is the possibility to collaborate on this project (based on an Open Software solution) to investigate the following areas:
- Data access (over WAN)
- Data consistency problems
- Data sharing and security

After a first evaluation phase (August-October 2013) we would like to open our service to several collaborators to explore the above-mentioned areas in view of building a full service for CERN and for other collaborating partners. Since we believe that this approach should be interesting for other research centres and universities, this could be the basis of technical investigation by students as a part of their thesis work.