Foundations of Adaptive Networked Societies

of Tiny Artefacts

The FRONTS project is a joint effort of eleven academic and research institutes in foundational algorithmic research in Europe. The aim of the project is to provide a unifying scientific framework and a coherent set of design rules, for global systems resulting from the integration of autonomous interacting entities, dynamic multi-agent environments and ad-hoc mobile networks.

The project takes place between February 2008 to January 2011. It is funded by the European Commission under the Information Communication Technologies programme part of the Seventh Framework, as project number 215270.

The project details in terms of Action Line, Organization and Description of Work at a high level are maintained by CORDIS, under the ICT section.


FET 2011 Interactions Experiment

We conducted a large-scale experiment, investigating interactions and contextual awareness between the exhibits and visitors carrying mobile devices. You can find more regarding FET: Mobility - Mobile Interaction Study by visiting this page.


FET 2011 FRONTS Exhibition

FRONTS presented the project outcomes at FET 2011 by conducting a demonstration of adaptive future networks of tiny artefacts.



Awards Received

During the duration of the project, our work has received various awards and distinctions. Some recent are the following:

FET 2011 - Poster First Prize
"Building simple formations in large societies of tiny mobile artifacts"

Best Video Award at conference Internet of Things 2010, Tokyo, Japan.

on February 2010 MIT's Technology Review: The Authority of the Future of Technology.

on February 10, 2010 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

by the German version of the Technology Review published by Heise Online on April 2010, Issue 22.


Our posters

These are the four posters that present the concept and results of our project:


State of the Art - Special Issue

In this Computer Science Review special issue the main results of our work are presented. The contents are:

Computer Science Review
Volume 5, Issue 1,
February 2011
  • Introduction, J. Diaz, J. Nesetril
  • Foundational research on networks of tiny artefacts, Wide Hogenhout
  • Introduction to the special issue on foundations of adaptive networked societies of tiny artefacts, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Paul Spirakis
  • Computational models for networks of tiny artifacts: A survey, Carme Alvarez, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Amalia Duch, Joaquim Gabarro, Othon Michail, Maria Serna, Paul G. Spirakis
  • Streaming techniques and data aggregation in networks of tiny artefacts, Luca Becchetti, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Yiannis Giannakopoulos
  • Innovative approaches for security of small artefacts , Carlo Blundo, Angelo De Caro, Shlomi Dolev, Niv Gilboa, Marina Kopeetsky, Giuseppe Persiano, Paul G. Spirakis
  • A survey on relay placement with runtime and approximation guarantees, Bastian Degener, Sandor P. Fekete, Barbara Kempkes, Friedhelm Meyer auf der Heide
  • Robust and scalable middleware for selfish-computer systems, Shlomi Dolev, Elad M. Schiller, Paul G. Spirakis, Philippas Tsigas
  • Distributed algorithm engineering for networks of tiny artifacts, Tobias Baumgartner, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Sandor P. Fekete, Stefan Fischer, Christos Koninis, Alexander Kroller, Daniela Kruger, Georgios Mylonas, Dennis Pfisterer
  • Urban pervasive applications: Challenges, scenarios and case studies, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Georgios Mylonas, Andrea Vitaletti


    In this monograph we discuss the Population Protocols model and present some well-known, realistic and practical enhancements that give birth to some new and surprisingly powerful computational models for networks of tiny artefacts. The book is:

    New Models for Population Protocols (Synthesis Lectures on Distributed Computing Theory)
    by Othon Michail, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Paul G. Spirakis
    Editor: Nancy Lynch
    (Feb 15, 2011)


    Book on FRONTS Software

    In this book we present the FRONTS software for operating distributed self-organized societies of Tiny Artefacts. We present the design and implementation of the basic modules. The book is:

    Distributed Self-organized Societies of Tiny Artefacts: Design & Implementation
    Editor: Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Paul Spirakis
  • Introduction & Architecture, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Paul Spirakis
  • Generic Implementation for Heterogeneous Tiny Artifacts, Tobias Baumgartner, Alexander Kroeller
  • Adaptable Network Infrastructure, Dimitrios Amaxilatis, Shlomi Dolev, Christos Koninis
  • End-to-End Communication, Orestis Akribopoulos, Lorenzo Bergamini, Andreas Cord-Landwehr, Christos Koninis, Antoni Segura Puimedon
  • Data Aggregation, Yiannis Giannakopoulos, Christos Koninis
  • Group Key Establishment , Przemys law Blaskiewicz, Michal Koza, Tomasz Struminski
  • Tracking Mobile Assets, Konstantinos Chantzis, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Giuseppe Persiano, Antonio Ranieri
  • Motion Coordination, Orestis Akribopoulos, Andreas Cord-Landwehr, Henning Hasemann, Barbara Kempkes
  • Usage and Operation of Wireless Sensor Network Testbeds, Daniel Bimschas, Dennis P sterer
  • Distributed Self-organized Societies in Action, Orestis Akribopoulos, Dimitrios Amaxilatis, Ioannis Chatzigiannakis, Vasileios Georgitzikis, Marios Logaras

    Summary Results

    Swarms of small devices, that bridge the physical with the digital domain and communicate with each other, have become essential parts of our daily activity. They form networks to support myriads of new and exciting applications. Technology requires such systems to be dependable and adaptive to the user needs, to sudden changes of the environment, and to specific applications characteristics. FRONTS brings together complementary expertise of many leading partners in diverse areas, including algorithms and complexity, distributed computing, telecommunication networks design and operation, security and cryptography, software design and implementation.

    FRONTS focuses on the algorithmic foundations of such systems and is inspired from diverse scientific fields such as Economics and Markets, Biological Systems, even Thermodynamics and Physics. After three years of work we have produced formal models for adaptive networks of locally interacting devices. Our models capture asynchronous dynamic local interactions, the use of local memories of devices, as well as, continuous interactions with the environment. Our formal models are verifiable and programmable. We have also produced two sets of complete schemes: one set of schemes for the internal continuous self-organization of the network, and another set of schemes for adapting and responding to external changes dynamically. Our schemes for the internal continuous network reorganization include smart tags and recommendation methods. Our schemes for reacting to the environment include energy-awareness and assignment of roles to devices. Adaptive security and trust of pervasive networks of tiny devices is a strong contribution of FRONTS: we have implemented counter measures and defense provisions to Sybil attacks and have designed a novel use of RFID tags (what we call "security helpers"). Our systems can cooperatively protect themselves from subsystem takeovers.

    The effective and efficient realization of such large scale, complex ad hoc networking environments requires intensive, coordinated technical research and significant development efforts. This includes the combination of theoretical work with simulations and practical experiments. During the three years of FRONTS, we have experimented with real hardware platforms investigating certain aspects related to the research results. We have produced a series of prototype software components that can be executed on a wide range of hardware and software platforms designed for the Internet of Things, Web of Things, Wireless Sensor Networks and other Future Adaptive Systems. In the last year of FRONTS, we carefully selected a set of components based on interfaces, potential for realistic integration, clarity of design and functionality, easiness of interaction with other components and innovative design. This gave birth to a distributed self-organized society, a notion a bit weaker than a distributed operating system, but more suitable for populations of tiny artefacts. The software for these distributed societies was implemented based on the theoretical design and recommendations. The software was extensively used to practically evaluate the performance of such systems when applying them to application domains related to the Future Internet.

    The FRONTS software system establishes distributed and self-organized societies that offer a well-focused set of services. It provides a network infrastructure that is inherently adaptive and operates within certain performance bounds that are known a-priori. The novelties introduced by our system concern: Security (keys, helpers, etc.), Private Tracking (additional security layer on top of Tracking module that prevents tracking by outsiders), Delay-Tolerant Communication (E2E module, taking advantage of clustering, hierarchy and mobile agents to provide delay-tolerant and reliable connectivity), as well as Clustering and Highways (virtual-representative nodes for each cluster) construction. The resulting code executed by each device Simple and Economical.

    We believe that FRONTS has contributed much towards the realization of Pervasive Adaptation, which is a growing and not yet adequately explored area of future and emerging information technologies. Our work relates to the following areas of future long term, multi-disciplinary, foundational research:

    1. Incentives-based cooperation for adaptation: Such schemes (resembling markets and nations going through economic changes) have not yet been thoroughly studied. Societies are very adaptive, and interaction with sociology and even mass psychology should be investigated. We have made a start on such methods in FRONTS but further thorough investigation is needed.

    2. Adaptation in unexpected crisis situations: This is a very demanded area, since almost all current adaptation models assume some knowledge about "changes" and may not tolerate "extreme" situations. There are issues here with respect to limited resources, hard deadlines, faults and recovery related to FRONTS research results.

    3. Logics for adaptive pervasive systems of large scale: This may need a paradigm decomposing using logical rules. Such logics may be strange, and deduction may mean different things from what we know. Dynamicity, variety and evolution should be captured. FRONTS results can help towards understanding Dynamic Complex Systems and the process of Verifying such logics and components.

    FRONTS work targets application developers of the Future Internet by providing off-the-shelve software components that implement the FRONTS system. During FRONTS, our software was thoroughly tested and evaluated on existing EU/FP7 Future-Internet research infrastructures. This experimental study provides valuable insights and key technological details on the operation of such systems. We believe that the FRONTS system will be extremely useful as developers will be able to focus on the aspects that are important for their applications and not on the management of the system. We hope that it will significantly help, reducing the effort required for the development of robust and inter-operable applications in the Future Internet.


    Selected Results

    Helper-based Security
    Researchers of the FRONTS project have proposed a new paradigm, called helper-based security, for security and privacy in pervasive systems in which the environment actively helps tiny artefacts to perform the computation needed to ensure security and privacy properties. The scientific challenge is to show that artefacts can be helped in performing the security protocols without having to reveal their secret information. An example of research in this new paradigm has considered tags that are carried by users in an environment in which various applications can read the information carried on the tag. It is desirable that the information is read only by the authorized readers and that users are not traced as the move in the environment. By developing a special type of encryption that make tags untraceable (but still readable by the authorized applications), FRONTS researchers have shown that the paradigm of helperbased security can be used to protect the privacy of the users in this context

    Ubiquitous games and interactive audiovisual installations

    In the context of FRONTS, the FINN technological platform has been developed that enables the implementation of ubiquitous games and interactive audiovisual installations. The knowledge stemming from recent research results of FRONTS were applied in the gaming domain so as to produce efficient systems. The four letter abbreviation " FinN stands for FUN IN NUMBERS, a term that suggests that the games are becoming increasingly more fun when played by many! Such games can be largely based on features like movement, presence, and sensory input, all provided by the use of sensor networking techniques. Players interact with each other and their surrounding environment by moving, running and gesturing as a means to perform game related actions, using sensor devices.

    FRONTS organized the playful event METAPAIGNIA during 17-19 of May 2010. In this exhibition the public actively participated in dynamic ubiquitous games that took place in the Lithographeion theater at Patras, Greece. Children from five to ninety-five years old, either on their own or in teams, played with interactive games and projections. Their playing acts were enabled by recent technological developments and a highly interactive environment, whereby computer science merges with influences from the arts.

    Roomba Art

    The knowledge stemming from recent research results of FRONTS were applied in Art & Technology in the form of "Roomba-art". Braunschweig University of Technology (TUBS) produced long-term exposed photographs of moving roombas. A swarm of seven Roombas was used, each with a differently colored LED on top. The motion of the roombas (robot swarms) in unknown terrains was based on adaptive algorithms developed in FRONTS.

    The FET Proactive Initiative on Pervasive Adaptation targets technologies and design paradigms for massive-scale pervasive information and communication systems, capable of autonomously adapting to highly dynamic and open technological and user contexts. Adaptation strategies (bio-inspired, stochastic or others) will operate at different time scales and speeds, from short term adaptation to long-term evolution, and will imply changes in software, hardware, protocols and/or architecture at different levels of granularity and abstraction.

    The proactive initiative is coordinated by PERADA that aims to bring together the wide range of researchers in the field, and to build a new community of researchers who can work together on common goals, so ensuring that the research carried out by community members is integrated, coordinated, and disseminated.


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