Small logo of ETH main building ETH Zurich : Computer Science : Pervasive Computing : Distributed Systems : Research : Events : Dagstuhl Ubicomp

Dagstuhl Ubicomp - Breakout Session

Ubiquitous Computing Curriculum

Chair: Marc Langheinrich

The group was chartered with exploring the contents of a comprehensive ubiquitous computing curriculum at the Graduate level.

We started out by collection buzzwords surrounding the topic of ubiquitous computing. At first, this would include the various alternative descriptions that are used for this field today, e.g., Emergent, Disappearing, Pervasive, Ambient, Smart, Tangible, Sentient, or Adaptive Computing. These words can be found on the upper half of the picture on the left (click on the image for a larger image).

We then began to collect more specialized topics and subtopics often associated with ubiquitous computing, such as Smart Environments, Nomadic Computing, or Non-GUI UI Design. Some of these topics were already well-established computer sciences courses, such as AI, Networking, or Embedded Systems. We boxed these basic courses that somehow intersect the field of ubiquitous computing with red boxes (see picture on the left). More specialized topics were then circled with green, identifying specialization topics that often built upon concepts taught in basic courses.

We started to draw lines between such specialized courses and their corresponding basic class, but decided to re-assemble these topics on a second sheet in order to make dependencies clearer (see below).

Figure 1: Buzzwords surrounding Ubicomp

On the right you can see the two levels of classes that could form a dedicated ubiquitous computing curriculum. The left half of the picture shows basic level courses (in blue) that often already exist today as part of a general computer science curriculum: Networking, AI, OS/Distributed Systems (these could be a single class but are also often taught seperately), Embedded Systems, Human-Computer Interaction, Security, and Technology & Society. All of these classes are related to some aspects of ubiquitous computing and could, if part of a dedicated curriculum, feature a number of example applications in the ubicomp field for motivation.

From each of the basic level classes, a number of specialized classes would then explore more specific details of ubiquitous computing. While more or less all of the basic classes should probably be required in a ubiquitous computing curriculum, only a restricted subset of specialized classes seems feasible. While the group identified a comprehensive list of such specializations, we were not able to group subsets into meaningful specialized subfields (due to time constraints). The identified classes include: Short-Range Communications, non-GUI User Interfaces, Identification & Localization, Mobile-Nomadic-Wearable Computing, Smart-Calm-Ambient Environments, Context-Awareness, Statistical Methods & Algorithms for Sensor Fusion (Uncertainty), Energy Issues in Low Power Systems, Sensors-Actuators-Feedback Loops, Event-Systems, Complex Systems, Data Mining and Machine Learning, and Interaction Design (the last one is missing on the picture).

One thing the group was unable to come up with was a condensed version of these topics for a 1-2 semester ubicomp lecture. Perhaps a (rather small) subset of the specification classes could provide some guidance as to the topic selection, though given the large number of possibly relevant issues, the group felt that a rather narrow selection of the material would need to be made for such a short course.

Figure 2: Possible Base-level and Specialization Courses

See also the slides assembled by Thomas Ziegert during this session.


Gaetano Boriello, Clemens Cap, Friedemann Mattern, Marc Langheinrich, Peter Lungstrand, Andreas Zeidler, Thomas Ziegert


ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated July 7 2005 04:32:04 PM MET ml