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Project reference: 216691
Funded under: FP7-ICT

Feature Stories - Polish scientific pedigree - Copernicus to Curie, and beyond

From Copernicus to Marie Curie, Polish researchers have carved out a reputation for pioneering work in diverse fields, from physics, mathematics and chemistry to biotechnology and information technology. Indeed, information and communications technology (ICT) is inspiring a new generation of Polish scientists working in various fields, from advanced driver assistance systems to quantum information processing, from ontology-driven software to projects shaping the Future Internet.

A true Renaissance thinker, Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) put forward theories on astronomy, mathematics, physics and even economics at a time when few Europeans were even literate. His masterpiece 'On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres' introduced the heliocentric theory (about the Sun's position in relation to the planets' orbits) and his 'quantity theory of money' - that prices vary directly with the supply of money in the society - resonates to this day.

Born Maria Sklodowska in Warsaw in1867, Marie Curie managed to break rules and record books throughout her career. In a scientific world dominated by men, she won not one but two Nobel Prizes - for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911 - and contributed profoundly to the understanding of radioactivity. Her daughter went on to add another Nobel Prize to the family trophy cabinet. Mme Curie was a truly inspiring woman and a role model for all researchers.

To this day, Polish researchers rank among the brightest in Europe. Many are participating in a number of projects pushing the frontiers of future networks, such as http://www.4ward-project.eu (4WARD) , http://euronf.enst.fr/ (EURO-NF) and http://www.euwb.eu/ (EUWB) , and Poland recently hosted the multi-annual http://www.future-internet.eu/home/future-internet-assembly.html (Future Internet Assembly) (FIA) in Poznań. FIA is the result of collaboration among EU-funded projects which recognise the need to strengthen Europe's contribution to the Future Internet in order to maintain its competitiveness in the global marketplace.

This conference and others, such as the http://www.egov2011.pl/ ('Borderless eGovernment Services for Europeans') event on 17-18 November 2011, take place under the auspices of the Polish EU Presidency, underlining the importance of a joined-up information society in Europe.

Marriage of convenience

Taking the lead role, Krakow-based firm Comarch coordinated the EU-funded project 'Marrying ontology and software technology' (http://www.most-project.eu/ (MOST)), which harnesses the semantic web to help software engineers model and develop better, more customised code using web ontology language (OWL).

Ontology has been described somewhat enigmatically as a 'specification of a conceptualisation', which basically means a formal specification of a program - the concepts and relationships in the software.

The MOST project, which ended earlier this year, had just over three years to develop a set of tools that boost software development, quality and time to market, with the aim of helping Europe remain globally competitive. The tools developed include a 'Development environment for self-updating documentation' (DEFT), 'Integrated modelling with UML and OWL2' (TwoUse), 'Syntax- and semantics-enabled meta-modelling' (OWL text), and more.

TwoUse, for example, bridges the gap between semantic web and model-driven engineering. And it implements the current standards (OMG and W3C) for software design, code generation and OWL ontology engineering. The http://code.google.com/p/twouse/ (TwoUse video) shows the tool in action using a clever (and fun) ontology for pizzas. Comarch's creative and strong leadership was recognised last year when MOST was awarded a http://sprers.eu/events/awards-on-software-services-in-new-member-states (SPRERS prize) for research in new Member States involved in EU ICT programmes focused on software services.

Quantum noise

Polish leadership was also put through its paces in a project which tackled the field of quantum information processing. The EU-funded project 'Correlated noise effects in quantum information processing' (http://corner.fizyka.umk.pl/ (Corner)) was coordinated by the http://www.umk.pl/en/ (Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń) . Perhaps the team called on the eponymous scientist for inspiration!

The Corner project is featured on the European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies web application called http://cordis.europa.eu/fet-house/themes/theme/4 ('FET House') . 'A signal - any signal - inevitably has some noise, a degree of imprecision that carries no information and can even confuse the underlying data,' FET House notes. In the quantum world the problem of noise is magnified.

Corner's work to better understand the problems of noise inherent in any quantum system could one day help scientists to build real-world physical quantum computing platforms, enabling secure communication, enhanced precision instruments, and a greater ability to model and understand exotic materials such as superconductors. Copernicus would have been proud to put his name to such ambitious theoretical research!

Good partners, too

Good leadership can drive a project to great results. But the value of 'good partnership' must not go unrewarded. Polish teams have also made noteworthy contributions to ICT research consortia, helping the EU tackle some very tough problems.

Take the 'Road safety attributes exchange infrastructure in Europe' (http://www.ertico.com/rosatte (Rosatte)) project which included the Polish division of http://mapsby.tomtom.com/landingpage/index.php (Tele Atlas) , a digital maps, navigation and location-based services company that was bought by TomTom in 2008.

Tele Atlas' experience with in-car navigation systems contributed to Rosatte's mission to establish a more efficient and secure data supply chain from public authorities to commercial map providers. The project contributes to the EU's 'ICT for intelligent vehicles' initiatives which, among other things, aim to reduce road fatalities in Europe through the use of 'Advanced driver assistance systems' (ADAS).

In another example of good partnership http://eng.pw.edu.pl/ (Warsaw University of Technology) provided expertise in physics and chemistry to the EU-funded 'Flexible autonomous cost-efficient energy source and storage' (http://www.vtt.fi/proj/facess/?lang=en (Facess)) project. As ICTs become more pervasive, scientists are battling to develop more efficient electronics and new ways to generate, store and save energy.

Facess aimed to 'manufacture efficient organic solar cells and thin-film batteries on flexible substrates using commercially available materials and cost-efficient roll-to-roll mass production techniques'. In other words, printing energy efficient electronics with solar panels onto bendable materials or foils that can be used in any number of applications. Warsaw University of Technology carried out in-depth, system-level research on the printed lithium battery aspect of the project.

'This kind of energy source concept has huge potential to be integrated into different low-cost large area electronics applications such as posters, wireless keyboards and large-area sensor networks,' noted the project, which concluded earlier this year. Developing synergies and cooperation between the electronics and printing industry is considered an important outcome of the project.

From Copernicus to Curie, and beyond to the current crop of pan-European research projects bringing together the best teams from all over the continent, more Polish science and technology could only be a good thing for Europe.

All of the projects mentioned in this article have been funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme's for research into ICTs. For more information about the project funding and instruments consult the project sheets in the useful links.

Useful links:

- http://www.4ward-project.eu ('Architecture and design for the future internet')
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85316_en.html (4WARD project record on CORDIS)
- http://euronf.enst.fr/en_accueil.html ('Anticipating the Network of the future - from theory to design' project)
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85336_en.html (EURO-NF project record on CORDIS)
- http://www.euwb.eu ('Coexisting short range radio by advanced ultra-wideband radio technology')
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85305_en.html (EUWB project record on CORDIS)
- http://www.most-project.eu ('Marrying ontology and software technology' project)
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85351_en.html (MOST project record on CORDIS)
- http://corner.fizyka.umk.pl ('Correlated noise effects in quantum information processing')
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/86410_en.html (Corner project record on CORDIS)
- http://www.ertico.com/rosatte ('Road safety attributes exchange infrastructure in Europe')
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85524_en.html (Rosatte project sheet on CORDIS)
- http://www.vtt.fi/proj/facess/?lang=en ('Flexible autonomous cost-efficient energy source and storage')
- http://cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/85524_en.html (Facess project sheet on CORDIS)

Related articles:

- http://cordis.europa.eu/result/brief/rcn/6871_en.html (Gigabit wireless data coming to your home, car… or flight)
Record Number: 7279 / Last updated on: 2011-11-09(+)
Domain: ITTELE
Area Code: cnect
Keywords: Digest, Poland, future networks, future internet, science and technology, ICT, ontology, owl, quantum information processing, quantum computer, road safety, lithium batteries, ocs, energy saving, intelligent vehicles
Remarks: Programme Acronym: FP7-ICT, Project Reference: 216691, Project Title: Marrying Ontology and Software Technology