University of Malta
 

Research
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Objectives

To research the efficient, secure and reliable transmission of speech, image, video and other data sources over various communication channels, with special emphasis on mobile channels.

Current Research

  • Digital video transmission over wireless access networks
  • Variable-length error-correcting codes
  • Soft decision decoding for block codes
  • Digital image restoration

Research Groups

Research Grants

Project Title: Next Generation Media over 4G+ Infrastructures (NEREUS)
Funding: €44,457
Duration: 3 years
Funding source: Erasmus+
Start Date: September 2016

The main objective of this project is to offer a multidisciplinary programme for skills development, involving principles from Informatics and Internet technologies, Telecommunications and Network engineering, Social Media sciences and Security. Towards this direction, NEREUS elaborates on cutting-edge topics that are of major importance for societal, cultural and economic prosperity, and with strategic impact in Europe’s 2020 Agenda for sustainable growth and competitiveness both at national and regional levels, focusing onto:

  • Novel media coding and “green” transport mechanisms
  • Open network architectures with service orchestration
  • QoS/QoE modelling & management
  • Next generation cloud-based services
  • Secure and trustworthy communications

In this context, NEREUS aims to develop/offer educational material to final year Bachelor and 1st year MSc students in the form of 5 courses and test/evaluate them through intensive courses (one week duration each), which will be summarised in a whole module of 10 ECTS. More information is available at http://www.nereus-erasmus.eu/.

Project Title: High Intensity Radiated Field Synthetic Environment (HIRF SE)
Funding: €152,272 (€118,308 from EC)
Duration: 4 years
Funding source: EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Start Date: December 2008

The HIRF Synthetic Environment research project has the goal to provide to the aeronautic industry a numerical modelling computer framework which can be used during the development phase (including upgrade), in order to ensure adequate EM performance, but also in addition and in a considerable reduction to certification/qualification testing phase on air vehicle.
Project Title: Electronically enabled Cabin and Associated Logistics for Improved Passenger Services and Operational Efficiency (ECab)
Funding: €93,850
Duration: 3 years
Funding source: EU Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)
Start Date: July 2006

E-Cab (Electronically enabled Cabin and Associated Logistics for Improved Passenger Services and Operational Efficiency) proposes solutions to improve the end­to­end process of air traveling in a holistic approach. The project encompasses the whole logistic chain from journey planning at home, through the airport, flying, up to the final destination.
Project Title: FPGA Implementation of a Speech Recognizer
Funding: €12,000
Duration: 3 years
Funding source: University
Start Date: February 2006

The aim of the project is to develop a speech recognizer for the Maltese language in digital hardware. Various possible implementations will be studied and compared. Once simulation results are satisfactory the algorithm will be implemented on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and a Digital Signal Processor (DSP). A comparison between the FPGA and DSP solutions will be done in an attempt to determine whether the best solution lies in an FPGA implementation, a DSP or a hybrid.
Project Title: Content Based Multimedia Retrieval with Ordered Relevance Feedback
Funding: €30,700
Duration: 2 years
Funding source: RTDI
Start Date: December 2005

Searching the Internet for information using keywords is something that everybody practices and is an efficient way how to retrieve information from an otherwise chaotic repository. This project extends this searching capability to multimedia objects. This is a hard problem since no known technique yet exists that enables a computer to extract the semantics of a video clip, image etc. This project therefore proposes to use ordered relevance feedback from the users to improve the performance of the multimedia search system.
Project Title: Algorithm development for Antenna Intelligent Design Aids
Funding: €3000
Duration: 2 years
Funding source: University
Start Date: October 2007

Antenna intelligent design aids (AIDA) have so far been restricted to the application of efficient search algorithms such as the Genetic Algorithm and Simulated Annealing Algorithm. One can therefore comment that antenna CAD is somewhat lagging in this area when compared to CAD in other disciplines. This lack of development can be attributed to various reasons such as technical difficulties in the characterisation and classification of antenna design knowledge, lack of fast rigorous models for EM analysis and the lack of trust and conviction in having these design aids working in an effective way. In the longer term, however, this area of research can result in higher pay offs by helping in the timely design of terminal antennas at the right cost. This research project will focus on developing algorithms suitable for AIDA.
Project Title: Tunable Antennas for Mobile RF Terminals
Funding: €22,904
Duration: 2 years
Funding source: University
Start Date: September 2006

New antenna structures that exhibit multi-band and multi-function characteristics are required to sustain and increase the widespread use of wireless communication systems. Antenna bandwidth is a function of volume and usually mobile devices operate on narrowband channels rather than a single wide-band channel. This is very true of GSM as well as UMTS. Given this condition one can use a very small tunable antenna that switches frequencies in real time. This study will research into new structures to obtain tunable elements suitable for a number of different protocols, such as UMTS, WiFi and GSM.

Research Grants 2005

  • Dr Victor Buttigieg obtained a research grant of Lm13,200 (€30,748) from the RTDI under MCST for a period of two years for work on Content Based Multimedia Retrieval
  • Dr Adrian Muscat and Dr Carl J. Debono obtained a research grant of Lm1250 (€2912) from the University of Malta for the development of WLAN antennas.
  • Ing. P. P. Debono, Dr Edward Gatt and Dr Carl J. Debono obtained a research grant of Lm5250 (€12,229) from the University for work on the development of an FPGA implementation of a speech recognizer.
  • Dr David Zammit Mangion and Dr Carl J. Debono are participating in the EU program START. The funding is €25,534.
  • Dr Adrian Muscat and Dr Carl J. Debono are participating in the EU program ALIPRO. The funding is €20,140.

Research Grants 2004

  • Prof. Paul Micallef and Dr Carl J. Debono are participating in a VIth Framework IST Project with acronym TWISTER. The project runs from 2004–2007.

The local contribution is to setup, test and evaluate a high speed satellite link between the department and UGC, Gozo that is being used for a virtual classroom. Additionally a research work on modelling the channel bandwidth usage is also being conducted. The funding is for €159,000

  • Dr Carl J. Debono and Dr Adrian Muscat obtained a research grant of €24,000 from ST Microelectronics, Catania for the development of WLAN and UWB antennas.

Research Grants 2003

  • Dr V. Buttigieg obtained a grant of Lm23,000 (€53,576) over a three year period from the University for the development of Multimedia Indexing.

Research Grants 2001

  • Ing. P. P. Debono obtained a grant of Lm8300 (€19,334) over a two year period from the University for the development of the microcontroller laboratory.

Research Grants 2000

  • Prof. Paul Micallef participated in a Vth Framework INCOMED Project with acronym CAHRISMA. The project runs from 2000 - 2003. The local contribution is to the acoustic analysis of single voice chant and to relate it to the space architecture. The funding is for €58,000.

Research Grants from the University for the years 1998

  • Dr Victor Buttigieg received a University research grant of Lm3500 (€8153) for his work on multirate coding.
  • Dr Paul Micallef received a University research grant of Lm4500 for the ongoing work on DSP applications to speech synthesis.
  • Mr Adrian Muscat and Mr Johann Briffa received a University Research grant of Lm5000 for research on parallel computing in high frequency applications.

In addition the department obtained Lm100,000 (€232,937) funds under the Maltese-Italian financial protocol and is currently using some of these funds for its research work in conjunction with Prof. M. DeBlasi's group at the University of Lecce.

Previous Research Grants for the years 1995–1997 include:

  • The multimedia research group led by Dr Saviour Zammit received a research grant of Lm11,500 (€26,788) to research Digital Video Conferencing Systems.
  • Dr Paul Micallef received Lm2000 (€4659) to do research in speech synthesis.
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