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Army of Agents
Imagine a fleet of 10,000 nanosatellites, or a team of cooperating robots in the field. You will want them to operate and co-operate intelligently within the network.

Preferably the ensemble should allow different ‘agents’ to be included (think of airplanes, helicopters and land vehicles of various ages and sizes). And the co-operation should also not be disrupted if one or more agents drop out. Such ‘distributed control of heterogeneous systems’ had the reputation of being a hard nut to crack, says Professor Michel Verhaegen (3mE), from the Delft Center for Systems and Control. But not only did his PhD student Dr Justin Rice succeed in doing just that, Rice also brought down the complexity of the system to scale linear with the number of agents – previously it went up as the cube of the number of agents. For this achievement, Rice’s PhD thesis was selected for the annual award of the European Embedded Control Institute. Rice defended his thesis ‘Efficient algorithms for distributed control; a structured matrix approach’ on 6 September 2010.

Super sailing
Thursday, 8 December, Malcom Barnsley, designer and technical leader of the Vestas Sailrocket, will talk about his second-generation high-speed sailing boat, with which he aims to beat the ‘Outright World Speed Sailing Record’. He decided that for fast sailing you had to take kite surfers as an example. His speech at the Delta Hotel in Vlaardingen (19:45) is daringly titled ‘Sailor’s life starts at 50 knots’.


Flexible hardware
‘Designing a computer processor so that the software installed operates as efficiently as possible.’ That, in a nutshell, is the mission of the new, EU-funded research project, Embedded Reconfigurable Architectures, which is coordinated by TU Delft. Dynamic hardware that adapts to the characteristics of the software allows a significant gain in speed and energy consumption. “We anticipate that our platform will lead to cheaper embedded systems, such as those for mobile telephones,” says project leader Dr Stephan Wong of the EEMCS faculty.

Hidden Rembrandt
Delft paint expert, Professor Joris Dik (3mE faculty), has done it again. After having discovered several hidden paintings behind tableaus of Piet Mondriaan and Vincent Van Gogh using X-ray techniques, he (together with colleagues) have now discovered the outline of an unmistakable self-portrait Rembrandt began painting, before changing his mind and depicting an old man instead. The painting, ‘Old Man with a Beard’, was x-rayed at the ESRF institute in France. The research also removed any doubts about the authenticity of the painting.

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