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PhDs in the Department of Computer Sciences

"We engage in team building between man and machine." Dr. Alexander Hagg, Department of Computer Science

Research in the Department of Computer Science is challenging. Below we provide a brief insight into the variety of topics covered by the research work of our doctoral students and list who supervises them at H-BRS. Further links lead to research institutes, cooperation partners, publications, etc.

(selection, last update February 2024)

Iman Awaad, A2S
Humans are able to develop plans to achieve their goals and adapt them to changes in their environment by finding solutions and alternatives and taking advantage of opportunities without much thought. Despite decades of research, artificial agents, such as robots, are not as robust and flexible. When we look at how we get things done despite ever-changing environments and our own lack of omniscience, we find that this is mostly accomplished by substituting for missing or unavailable objects and making assumptions about objects about which we have limited information. PhD student Iman Awaad aims to enable service robots working in domestic environments to use these two techniques to assist human users.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Paul Plöger (Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kraetzschmar)

Daniel Bachmann

PhD student Daniel Bachmann combines machine learning with computer graphics: In neural rendering, neural networks help to turn 2D images into 3D representations as efficiently as possible.

Manufacturing, entertainment, education and many other industries require real or fictitious virtual 3D models. Modern computer graphics produce high-quality visual and even photorealistic content. However, this quality has two major drawbacks: Traditional methods require long computation times. Secondly, with increasing image quality, extremely fine geometry is required to represent the desired scene. This requires time-consuming and laborious manual post-processing. 
Supervision: Prof. Dr. André Hinkenjann


Saugata Biswas, IVC
Online remote training for assembly, operation and maintenance is advantageous in the industry to save time and money, especially when corporations have locations on several continents (e.g. automotive industry, oil companies, etc.).Currently, remote training experiences are restricted by limited camera perspectives and the lack of suitable navigation techniques for camera view depending on the task.In this PhD project, PhD student Saugata Biswas is developing an autonomous camera viewpoint management system using a robotic arm in a multi-camera training scenario.This PhD will focus on improving the online training experience of remote trainees.PhD student Saugata Biswas has been a scholarship holder of the Institute for Visual Computing (IVC) since 2019.
Supervision:  Prof. Dr. Ernst Kruijff


Ahmad Drak, TREE
Ahmad Drak is developing a flying robotic system that is capable of efficiently exploring the ever-changing environment in which it moves. The result is a wealth of useful information that the system is designed to learn and maximize. This firstly shortens the time the robot needs to explore its environment and secondly reduces the energy consumption of the robotic system. PhD student Ahmad Drak has been a fellow of the Institute for Technology, Resource Efficiency and Energy Efficiency (TREE) since 2018. Further information.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Alexander Asteroth

Ruben Gonzalez, ISF
Cryptography, i.e. encryption technology, is used everywhere today. From online banking to opening your car by remote control. However, a new type of computer, the quantum computer, is threatening the current generation of encryption systems. New cryptographic methods must therefore be devised, developed and tested in order to remain on the safe side. This branch of research is called post-quantum cryptography. PhD student Ruben Gonzalez is researching how post-quantum cryptography can work on the very smallest devices, the constraint embedded devices (e.g. fine dust sensors, credit cards).
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Karl Jonas


Jascha Knack
Monolithic software architectures can be inefficient to develop and complex to scale during their lifecycle. Software developers are therefore looking for ways to transform them into more efficient and more easily scalable microservices.

This process is not only complex and time-consuming, but is also a human capacity challenge for large software systems. In his doctoral project with the working title "Machine learning assisted decomposition of monolithic software architectures into microservices", Jascha Knack is investigating how machine learning techniques can help to recognize complex dependencies and patterns in existing code bases and generate suggestions for an optimal division into microservices. This research makes it possible to accelerate the process of architecture conversion, minimize errors and improve the overall performance of applications. This is an important step towards more agile and future-proof software development.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Martin E. Müller


Martin Pluisch, IVC
Computer scientist Martin Pluisch is working on augmented reality environments in his dissertation. He is researching the use of stimuli via various sensory channels, for example vibrations or sounds, to provide users of AR glasses with additional information alongside what they are seeing. The dynamic environment as well as technical and human limitations are challenging.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ernst Kruijff


Michal Stolarz, A2S

Michal Stolarz works on assistance robots that are used in the social sector, for example in the care of the elderly or in therapy for children. These robots must first learn to react appropriately to human behavior and facial expressions. To do this, the computer scientist uses the Interactive Reinforcement Learning (IRL) method in simulations and user studies so that the robot learns from both the carer and the person being cared for.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Teena Chakkalayil Hassan


Christoph Pomrehn, IVC
Raman and infrared spectroscopy are two different optical measurement methods. They are used in conjunction with a microscope to examine the smallest microscopic samples. The samples are examined with regard to their surface properties, but also with regard to their material composition. Under certain conditions, the images generated (hyperspectral images) can contain complementary information about the same sample. As part of this research topic, Christoph Pomrehn is developing strategies to extract this information from the generated images and make it accessible for computer-aided analysis in selected applications. Christoph Pomrehn has been a scholarship holder of the Department of Computer Science since 2018.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Rainer Herpers


Sven Schneider, A2S
In contrast to industrial robots, we expect domestic robots to be able to perform gripping movements with their arms depending on the situation. However, they first have to learn this ability with the help of models from various disciplines (e.g. mechanics or control engineering). PhD student Sven Schneider provides household robots with this interdisciplinary knowledge by developing application-specific languages. If you like, he is an interpreter and language teacher for domestic robots.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Nico Hochgeschwender


Bastian Stahl, ISF
As a computer scientist, Bastian Stahl is investigating how he can improve the reliability and safety of 3D time-of-flight cameras. These camera systems emit a modulated light signal and use the phase shift between the transmitted and received signal in the individual pixels to generate a depth image. They are used, among other things, in the field of occupational safety and are intended to prevent accidents in the interaction between man and machine.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Robert Lange, Prof. Dr. Norbert Jung


Katharina Stollenwerk, IVC
Lower back pain is an important issue in modern Western societies. Wearable devices can be used to track postural changes through posture training, measure the shape of the spine and reconstruct spinal curvature. PhD student Katharina Stollenwerk's research focuses on the systematic evaluation of (specific) sensor-based wearables and the reconstruction of spinal curvature as well as the analysis of the recorded data. This improves posture training in back training with reliable and objective measurements of the shape of the spine. Trainers and trainees thus gain a better understanding of their actions and concepts.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. André Hinkenjann


Santosh Thoduka, A2S
Robots are usually programmed to perform tasks by following a list of actions such as moving, looking, picking, etc. When something unexpected happens, a robot often cannot handle the situation because 1) it did not recognize that something went wrong and 2) it was not programmed for the new situation. Recognizing such situations allows robots to decide whether to continue with the task, inform a human about the problem or try to solve the problem themselves. Santosh Thoduka's work focuses on using the robot's camera to detect unexpected situations that may occur while the robot is performing a task. PhD student Santosh Thoduka has been a fellow of the Graduate Institute since 2018.

Further information
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Paul Plöger


Christina Trepkowski, IVC
Augmented reality glasses are data glasses in whose field of vision all conceivable information is visually superimposed at the same time. This information is intended to improve awareness of certain situations through correct perception, interpretation and assessment of the environment. However, current AR glasses have a disadvantage: their field of vision is so small that the information displayed can obscure critical information from the environment, distract the wearer or overwhelm them with too much information. Like Alexander Marquardt, Christina Trepkowski is also working on converting some of the visual digital information into audio and vibration stimuli. As a psychologist, her focus is on evaluating, comparing and optimizing these new methods by developing and using procedures to measure the situational awareness of people wearing glasses. Christina Trepkowski has been a fellow of the Institute of Visual Computing (IVC) in the 3DMi working group since 2018.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ernst Kruijff


Mohammad Wasil, A2S

Autonomous systems and robots operate in dynamic environments that change gradually or radically over time. To perform tasks in such ever-changing environments, the robot should continuously learn and adapt its capabilities. Continuous learning (CL) is a machine learning method that learns from continuous streams of data. CL aims to balance the trade-off between the capabilities to be maintained and those to be enhanced, a characteristic that current machine learning struggles with. This PhD thesis focuses on using the physical interaction of a robot to utilize spatio-temporal information about the environment to obtain more robust data to deal with the continuous learning problem. 
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Houben


Youssef-Mahmoud Youssef
Distributed robotic systems are used in many industrial applications, e.g. in intelligent warehouses, in different areas of logistics or in the disposal of nuclear and hazardous waste. To ensure the reliability of these complex systems, it is necessary to develop intelligent, explainable models that efficiently describe the different behaviors of the robots. PhD student Youssef-Mahmoud Youssef is investigating the fault detection and diagnosis of distributed robotic systems using explainable hypotheses. Youssef Mahmoud Youssef has been a scholarship holder of the Department of Computer Science since 2019.
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Martin Müller



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