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See detailDesign and Cryptanalysis of Symmetric-Key Algorithms in Black and White-box Models
Udovenko, Aleksei Nikolaevich UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Cryptography studies secure communications. In symmetric-key cryptography, the communicating parties have a shared secret key which allows both to encrypt and decrypt messages. The encryption schemes used ... [more ▼]

Cryptography studies secure communications. In symmetric-key cryptography, the communicating parties have a shared secret key which allows both to encrypt and decrypt messages. The encryption schemes used are very efficient but have no rigorous security proof. In order to design a symmetric-key primitive, one has to ensure that the primitive is secure at least against known attacks. During 4 years of my doctoral studies at the University of Luxembourg under the supervision of Prof. Alex Biryukov, I studied symmetric-key cryptography and contributed to several of its topics. Part I is about the structural and decomposition cryptanalysis. This type of cryptanalysis aims to exploit properties of the algorithmic structure of a cryptographic function. The first goal is to distinguish a function with a particular structure from random, structure-less functions. The second goal is to recover components of the structure in order to obtain a decomposition of the function. Decomposition attacks are also used to uncover secret structures of S-Boxes, cryptographic functions over small domains. In this part, I describe structural and decomposition cryptanalysis of the Feistel Network structure, decompositions of the S-Box used in the recent Russian cryptographic standard, and a decomposition of the only known APN permutation in even dimension. Part II is about the invariant-based cryptanalysis. This method became recently an active research topic. It happened mainly due to recent extreme cryptographic designs, which turned out to be vulnerable to this cryptanalysis method. In this part, I describe an invariant-based analysis of NORX, an authenticated cipher. Further, I show a theoretical study of linear layers that preserve low-degree invariants of a particular form used in the recent attacks on block ciphers. Part III is about the white-box cryptography. In the white-box model, an adversary has full access to the cryptographic implementation, which in particular may contain a secret key. The possibility of creating implementations of symmetric-key primitives secure in this model is a long-standing open question. Such implementations have many applications in industry; in particular, in mobile payment systems. In this part, I study the possibility of applying masking, a side-channel countermeasure, to protect white-box implementations. I describe several attacks on direct application of masking and provide a provably-secure countermeasure against a strong class of the attacks. Part IV is about the design of symmetric-key primitives. I contributed to design of the block cipher family SPARX and to the design of a suite of cryptographic algorithms, which includes the cryptographic permutation family SPARKLE, the cryptographic hash function family ESCH, and the authenticated encryption family SCHWAEMM. In this part, I describe the security analysis that I made for these designs. [less ▲]

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See detailThe cause of interface recombination in Cu-rich CIS thin film solar cells
Elanzeery, Hossam UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin film solar cells are considered one of the most promising thin film technologies reaching efficiencies beyond 22 %. The record efficiencies for CIGS thin film solar cells are ... [more ▼]

Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin film solar cells are considered one of the most promising thin film technologies reaching efficiencies beyond 22 %. The record efficiencies for CIGS thin film solar cells are based on CIGS absorbers grown under Cu-deficiency conditions. CIGS absorbers grown under Cu-excess (Cu-rich) show larger grains and better transport properties compared to CIGS absorbers grown under Cu-deficiency (Cu-poor) conditions. However, solar cells based on Cu-rich CIGS absorbers suffer from significantly lower efficiencies compared to Cu-poor CIGS solar cells. The lower efficiency of Cu-rich CIGS solar cells compared to Cu-poor CIGS cells is attributed to lower open circuit voltage (VOC) in Cu-rich CIGS cells compared to Cu-poor CIGS cells. The reason behind the lower VOC values was investigated and was attributed to recombination losses at the absorber/buffer interface and higher doping of Cu-rich CIGS cells compared to Cu-poor CIGS cells but the complete picture behind the origin of these interface recombination losses and high doping in Cu-rich CIGS cells was not fully understood. The work of this thesis explains why Cu-rich CIGS cells suffer from interface recombination losses, higher doping and lower efficiencies. This explanation is divided into three parts: The first part characterizes Cu-rich and Cu-poor solar cells of the ternary CIS and the quaternary CIGS. This part confirms that Cu-rich CI(G)S solar cells suffer from lower efficiencies, lower VOC, interface recombination losses and higher doping compared to Cu-poor CI(G)S solar cells. Moreover, a 200±20 meV defect was observed for Cu-rich CIS cells. The second part introduces different post-deposition treatments (PDTs) to Cu-rich CI(G)S cells. An ex-situ KF, in-situ KF and a Se-only PDT were introduced to Cu-rich CIS cells. All the three treatments succeeded in improving the VOC, improving the interface recombination losses, decreasing the doping and passivating the 200±20 meV defect that has been identified as a Se-related defect in Cu-rich CIS solar cells. A Ga-Se PDT was introduced to Cu-rich CIGS solar cells and successfully improved the VOC, improved the interface recombination losses and decreased the doping of Cu-rich CIGS solar cells. The third part analyses the changes observed on Cu-rich CI(G)S cells before and after the PDTs. Based on these observations, it was concluded that the origin behind both the interface recombination losses and the high doping of Cu-rich CI(G)S cells is a Se-related acceptor defect (detected by admittance measurements for Cu-rich CIS and speculated for Cu-rich CIGS). The passivation of this defect reduces the recombination losses at the absorber/buffer interface, decreases the doping, improves the VOC and consequently leads to an increase in the efficiency of Cu-rich CI(G)S solar cells. Moreover, this part shows that the Se-related defect is formed as a result of the strong etching step that is mandatory for Cu-rich CI(G)S absorbers to remove conductive copper selenide secondary phases. Applying the same strong etching conditions to Cu-poor CIS absorbers leads to the formation of the Se-related defect. After understanding that the Se-related defect is formed as a result of the strong etching conditions and that the Se-related defect can be passivated with PDTs that are rich in Se, an alternative mean of passivating this defect without PDTs was proposed. The Se-related defect was shown to be passivated using buffer layers of high enough thiourea (source of Sulphur) and without any PDTs leading to the reduction of interface recombination losses, decrease of the doping, increase of the VOC and increase of the efficiency of Cu-rich CIS cells. To conclude, the reason behind the interface recombination losses and high doping in Cu-rich CI(G)S solar cells is a Se-related acceptor defect originating after etching the absorbers with strong etching conditions. This defect can be passivated with high enough chalcogen either with PDTs (high enough Selenium) or buffer layers (high enough Sulphur). [less ▲]

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See detailMixed Frequency Single Receiver Architectures and Calibration Procedures for Linear and Non-Linear Vector Network Analysis
Harzheim, Thomas UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

In this thesis several new advancements in the field of linear and non-linear vector network analysis are presented. Three distinct but interconnected topics are addressed in this work: First the concept ... [more ▼]

In this thesis several new advancements in the field of linear and non-linear vector network analysis are presented. Three distinct but interconnected topics are addressed in this work: First the concept and feasibility of the single receiver vector network analyzer (VNA) architecture and the implications for existing error models are analyzed, starting with the one-port reflectometer, through two-port unidirectional 5-term, bidirectional 10-term and finally 7-term error models. New VNA error models, which are able to capture the effects of the leaky RF receiver input wave selector switch, are derived, along with new calibration and correction procedures for this architecture. Modifications to the existing test-set architectures are introduced to reduce the effects of the leaky RF receiver input wave selector switch and shorten the required measurement time in this VNA architecture. A purpose built 275 MHz to 6000 MHz single receiver VNA system based upon commercial-of-the-shelf components is presented and analyzed. Measurements carried out with this VNA system are used in conjunction with numerical test-set and VNA simulations to verify the efficacy of the new calibration and correction methods as well as different VNA test-set architectures according to EURAMET standards and procedures. The second main topic of this thesis is the introduction of phase repeatable synthesizers as a new calibration and correction phase reference standard for non-linear VNA measurements. Due to the high output power capability of this new phase reference standard, new non-linear test-set and measurement scenarios such as the full non-linear two port characterization of high power solid-state amplifiers become possible, which were out of reach before due to low system signal-to-noise ratios provided by comb-generator based sources in this setup. The third and final topic of this thesis integrates the contents and achievements of the two previous topics to prove and verify the feasibility of VNA based harmonic, i.e. non-linear, transponder-based stepped-FMCW radar systems operating directly in the frequency domain. A new stepped-FMCW theory based on mixed-frequency S-parameters is presented in conjunction with a phase-slope based ranging procedure which avoids time-domain transformation. A complete system-analysis and modeling of the harmonic radar system including the passive transponder tag is provided. Numerous high-resolution measurements are presented and analyzed to verify the validity and accuracy of the non-linear harmonic radar equation, to evaluate illumination and harmonic return signal polarization based propagation effects in a multi-path indoor measurement scenario and to demonstrate the performance of the harmonic radar system in severe clutter situations. [less ▲]

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See detailOPTICAL ANALYSIS OF EFFICIENCY LIMITATIONS OF CU(IN,GA)SE2 GROWN UNDER COPPER EXCESS
Babbe, Finn UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Solar cells made from the compound semiconductor Cu(In,Ga)Se2 reach efficiencies of 22:9 % and are thus even better than multi crystalline silicon solar cells. All world records are achieved using ... [more ▼]

Solar cells made from the compound semiconductor Cu(In,Ga)Se2 reach efficiencies of 22:9 % and are thus even better than multi crystalline silicon solar cells. All world records are achieved using absorber layers with an overall copper deficient composition, but Cu-rich grown samples have multiple favourable properties. However, especially losses in the open circuit voltage limit the device performance. Within this work these efficiency limitations of chalcopyrites grown with copper excess are investigated. The work has been divided into four chapters addressing different scientific questions. (i) Do alkali treatments improve Cu-rich absorber layers? The alkali treatment, which lead to the recent improvements of the efficiency world record, is adapted to CuInSe2 samples with Cu-rich composition. The treatment leads to an improvement of the VOC which originates roughly equally from an improvement of the bulk and the removal of a defect close to the interface. The treatment also improves the VOC of Cu-poor samples. In both cases, the treatment increases the fill factor (FF) and leads to a reduction of copper content at the surface. (ii) Is the VOC limited by deep defects in Cu-rich Cu(In,Ga)Se2? A deep defect, which likely limits the VOC, is observed in photoluminescence measurements (PL) independent of a surface treatment. The defect level is proposed to originate from the second charge transition of the CuIn antisite defect (CuIn(-1/-2)). During the investigation also a peak at 0:9 eV is detected and attributed to a DA-transition involving a third acceptor situated (135 ± 10) meV above the valence band. The A3 proposed to originate from the indium vacancy (VIn). Furthermore the defect was detected in admittance measurements and in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 samples with low gallium content. (iii) Is the diode factor intrinsically higher in Cu-rich chalcopyrites? Cu-rich solar cells exhibit larger diode ideality factors which reduce the FF. A direct link between the power law exponent from intensity dependent PL measurements of absorbers and the diode factor of devices is derived and verified using Cu-poor Cu(In,Ga)Se2 samples. This optical diode factor is the same in Cu-rich and Cu-poor samples. (iv) Is the quasi Fermi level splitting (qFLs) of Cu-rich Cu(In,Ga)Se2 absorber layers comparable to Cu-poor samples? Measuring the qFLs of passivated Cu-rich and Cu-poor Cu(In,Ga)Se2 samples, on average a 120 meV lower splitting is determined for Cu-rich samples. This difference increases with gallium content and is likely linked to a defect moving deeper into the bandgap, possibly related to the second charge transition of the CuIn antisite defect. Overall, samples with Cu-rich composition are not limited by the diode factor. However, a deep defect band causes recombination lowering the qFLs and thus the VOC. This defect is not removed by alkali treatments. A key component to improve Cu-rich solar cells in the future, especially Cu(In,Ga)Se2, will be to remove or passivate this defect level. [less ▲]

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See detailNovel Insight into the Role of the S100A8/A9 Protein Complex in the Regulation of Neutrophil Functions
Jung, Nicolas UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

S100A8 and S100A9 are members of the S100 family of cytoplasmic EF-hand calcium-binding proteins and are abundantly expressed in the cytosol of neutrophils. Mostly found under heterodimeric form, S100A8 ... [more ▼]

S100A8 and S100A9 are members of the S100 family of cytoplasmic EF-hand calcium-binding proteins and are abundantly expressed in the cytosol of neutrophils. Mostly found under heterodimeric form, S100A8/A9 have various intracellular and extracellular functions; they act as alarmins, amplifying the host inflammatory response. Our previous study showed that the intracellular activity of S100A8/A9 is carried by the phosphorylation of S100A9. Based on these results, we further investigated the importance of this post-translational modification on the extracellular activity of the protein complex and its impact on the inflammatory functions of neutrophils. First, we analyzed the phosphorylation state of secreted S100A8/A9 and the mechanism by which the protein complex is released into the extracellular space. Our results show that S100A9 is secreted under a phosphorylated form within the S100A8/A9 protein complex and this release is highly correlated to the process of NETosis. Next, we investigated the inflammatory response of neutrophil-like dHL-60 cells when stimulated with the phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated form of S100A8/A9. Our results indicate that only the phosphorylated form of S100A8/A9 increases the expression and secretion of various cytokines (e.g. TNFa, CCL4, CXCL8). Using receptor-neutralizing antibodies, we then determined the receptor and signaling pathways associated to S100A8/A9-P-induced cytokine secretion. The reduction of expression levels of the previously mentioned cytokines, after TLR4 blocking, point out that S100A8/A9-P-induced signaling is mediated in part by TLR4. Finally, we investigated the post-transcriptional response induced by S100A8/A9-P stimulation. Using miRNA-sequencing of S100A8/A9-P stimulated dHL-60 cells, we identified an upregulation of miR-146a-5p, miR-146b-5p and miR-155-5p expression. Since these three microRNAs have previously been described to regulate TLR4 signaling at various levels, we investigated their influence on the inflammatory response mediated by S100A8/A9-P. Stable overexpression of miR-146a-5p and miR-155-5p in dHL-60 cells resulted in the reduced S100A8/A9-P-mediated secretion of cytokines through the inhibition of key players in the TLR4 signaling pathways. To summarize, our results give new insight into the pro-inflammatory functions induced by S100A8/A9-P in neutrophils and reveal the potential of the phosphorylated protein complex as a major regulator of inflammation in chronic inflammatory diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailInvestigating trust in a multilingual theatre project: Potentialities for a humanising pedagogy
Weyer, Dany UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Education plays a vital role in shaping social realities by promoting dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding, and positive social interactions. However, some pedagogical approaches are believed to not ... [more ▼]

Education plays a vital role in shaping social realities by promoting dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding, and positive social interactions. However, some pedagogical approaches are believed to not shoulder the responsibility to counter current social, economic, and political forces in Europe and beyond that present challenges in terms of social cohesion and ways of living together. This study contributes to recent debates concerning a change of dominant school practices by recognising learning and teaching as collaborative processes between teachers and students and trust as a central element in education. Despite the interest in and positive appraisal of trust in education, little attention has been paid to concrete teaching practices and strategies on how to implement trust in learning and teaching. A case study of a multilingual theatre project of a primary school class and a video ethnographic approach allowed to explore details of classroom practices, (inter-)actions, and activities. This research set out to explore four questions: (a) What are “signs of trust” in an educational context?; (b) How and in what ways can a teacher build, maintain, or strengthen trust?; (c) How and in what ways can “signs of trust” shape interactions in the classroom?; (d) How can “sings of trust” be analysed? As a result of more than 80 hours of video-recorded participant observations and interview data, the results of this investigation show that the classroom teacher continuously and consistently maintained a work environment based on six attributes of trust identified in the literature: vulnerability, benevolence, reliability, competence, honesty, and openness. Most importantly, she valued and promoted responsibility, autonomy, collaboration, and peer support. The teacher’s verbal and non-verbal trustworthy and trusting behaviour is then interpreted as the driving force behind the pupils’ engagement as active, competent, and reliable partners in all aspects of the theatre project. In fact, the pupils signalled ownership of their learning, proactively and independently engaged with the curriculum, and positively oriented towards each other’s relationships and competences. Despite the exploratory nature and small sample of participants, the findings of this study highlight that education imbued with trust offers opportunities of growth for both teachers and students. Moreover, the data suggests that the achievement and maintenance of trust can be seen as a collaborative effort involving all members of the classroom community and facilitated by a myriad of meaning-making resources (verbal, non-verbal, with objects, even a simple look in the eye or a smile). If the debate about the value of trust for all learners is to be moved forward, a better understanding of the wider impacts on personal and social lives needs to be gained. [less ▲]

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See detailADAPTIVE WAVEFORM DESIGN FRAMEWORK FOR MIMO RADAR UNDER PRACTICAL CONSTRAINTS
Hammes, Christian UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

The recent developments in radar technology - powerful signal processors, increased modulation bandwidth and access to higher carrier frequencies - offers enhanced flexi- bility in waveform design and ... [more ▼]

The recent developments in radar technology - powerful signal processors, increased modulation bandwidth and access to higher carrier frequencies - offers enhanced flexi- bility in waveform design and receiver processing. This provides additional degrees of freedom in the signal design and processing, thereby offering additional avenues to im- plement interference mitigation. The radar environment is dynamic in general, with the inhomogeneous interference sources changing rapidly both in space and time. In this context, an adaptive waveform and adaptive receiver design for Multiple-Input-Multiple- Output (MIMO) radar system is a promising way forward towards dynamic interference mitigation. Even-though the technology offers flexibility, the need to commercialize radar elements imposes certain constraints on the platform to ensure commercial viability. In this context, the transmitted waveform has to satisfy practical design constraints imposed by the hardware including discrete phase modulation and limited number of processing chains. These coupled with the dynamic scenarios warrants a rapid signal adaptation with enhanced performance while satisfying the design constraints. Motivated by the aforementioned requirements, the thesis proposes a general framework for MIMO radar signal adaptation under practical design constraints. The transmit antennas are restricted to operate in a multiplex mode, where a fewer number of pro- cessing chains are multiplexed across an arbitrary number of transmit antennas. Each of these chains, also referred to as channels, have the capability to modulate the phase of a traditional radar pulse in discrete steps. Further, the modulation is assumed to be in the slow time domain (inter-pulse); such a phase modulation results in benign requirements on the platform. Furthermore, the antennas are assumed to be mounted uniformly in a way that the virtual MIMO paradigm for maximum angular resolution is satisfied. The slow time modulation naturally results in in an angle-Doppler coupling; this issue is addressed by phase center motion (PCM) techniques, where nonlinear and random PCM techniques for mitigating angle-Doppler coupling are proposed. While the PCM techniques provide orthogonal signals, a transmit beamforming approach is also consid- ered to exploit the salient features of MIMO and phased array radars. Towards this, an approach based on block circulant decomposition for the slow-time modulation is proposed to generate a particular beam shape while minimizing the cross-correlation between transmitted signals, such that the virtual MIMO paradigm is satisfied. The thesis formulates the radiation pattern design as a dictionary based convex optimization and proposes closed-form signal design solutions for particular configuration of channels, discrete phase stages and transmit antenna elements. The beampattern design is then elegantly combined with the PCM approach to reduce Doppler ambiguity while sup- pressing angle-Doppler coupling. The proposed waveform design methodology is shown to be amenable to fast adaptation. Further, the adaptive waveform design is fused with state of the art adaptive receiver techniques to conceive a novel adaptive MIMO radar system under practical constraints in this thesis. [less ▲]

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See detailMODELING HUMAN METABOLISM: A DYNAMIC MULTI-TISSUE APPROACH
Martins Conde, Patricia UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Despite significant advances in constraint-based modelling, a methodology for modelling dynamic multi-tissue models of human metabolism is still missing. Additionally, prior to analysing diseased models ... [more ▼]

Despite significant advances in constraint-based modelling, a methodology for modelling dynamic multi-tissue models of human metabolism is still missing. Additionally, prior to analysing diseased models, it is important to develop a good methodology, as it would not only enable us to capture the effects of metabolism-associated diseases, but it would also allow us to recapitulate known physiological healthy properties of human metabolism. Therefore, a dynamic multi-tissue model using a new methodology was developed. The objective function comprises a set of complex functions that the multi-tissue model needs to perform. To demonstrate the capabilities of this new approach, different healthy, and unhealthy conditions were simulated. In a first step, the effect of different healthy conditions was analysed (i.e. the fasting, the ingestion of different meals, and exercising at various intensities, and conditions), demonstrating the model’s capability to correctly predict metabolic changes occurring on energy-associated pathways. In the second step, biomarkers for a range of inborn errors of metabolism were predicted, and the predictions were shown to be in good agreement with previous data. Finally, after verifying the capability of the dynamic multi-tissue model to review known physiological aspects of human metabolism, this model was further integrated with a physiologically- based pharmacokinetic model of glucose metabolism, previously developed by Schaller et al. (2013). Contrasting conditions, such as healthy and diabetic, were simulated using the multi-scale model during fasting and after an oral glucose tolerance test and candidate drugs to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus were predicted. Five out of the 80 simulated drug targets were predicted as candidate anti-diabetic targets, and the majority of drugs known to inhibit the predicted drug targets, have already been shown to have anti-diabetic effects. The developed approach can be applied to any metabolic disease and to any system where homeostasis plays an important role, or where a simple biomass optimization function is not applicable. Furthermore, the large amount of data collected for the multi-tissue model generation is of significant value for tissue constraint-based metabolic modellers who need data to constrain their models. [less ▲]

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See detailFUNCTIONAL CHARACTERISATION OF THE A30P MUTATION IN ALPHA-SYNUCLEIN GENE IN A PATIENT-DERIVED CELLULAR MODEL OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Rodrigues Dos Santos, Bruno Filipe UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Our study aims to perform detailed phenotyping of the A30P alpha-synuclein familial case of PD, allowing to identify underlying mechanisms of the disease that may translate into novel therapies ... [more ▼]

Our study aims to perform detailed phenotyping of the A30P alpha-synuclein familial case of PD, allowing to identify underlying mechanisms of the disease that may translate into novel therapies. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease. Approximately 20% of PD cases are known to have a genetic cause. From these, mutations in SNCA, the gene encoding alpha-synuclein, are linked to an autosomal dominant inheritance of the disease. In 1998, our group discovered the second known point mutation within the SNCA gene, causing an A30P exchange of the peptide sequence. We generated first patient-derived cellular model of the A30P alpha-synuclein mutation carrier, by obtaining fibroblasts from an affected sibling of the index patient, an unaffected sibling of the patient, and an age-matched gender-matched non-PD control. We reprogrammed these fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and differentiated them into midbrain dopaminergic neurons. We obtained enriched cultures of 80% midbrain neurons (FoxA2+/Tuj1+), with approximately 12 % dopaminergic (TH+), for which we observed electrophysiological activity and dopamine release. We detected a significant reduction of the protein level of mitochondria complexes II, IV, and V in the patient lines compared with the controls, additionally we found a significant impairment of mitochondrial respiration and an increased susceptibility of the cells to oxidative stress. Gene-edited isogenic controls were generated to dissect mutation-specific effects. Furthermore, we investigated mitochondrial morphology and dynamics, and how these processes contribute to the dopaminergic neurodegeneration. Additionally, we were implementing previously established readouts on our high-throughput automated screening platform that will allow us to identify FDA approved compounds with potential to be re-purposed and used as PD treatment. We believe that detailed phenotyping of the A30P alpha-synuclein monogenic case may help to identify underlying mechanisms of the disease that may translate into novel therapies, which would also apply to the more common sporadic forms of PD. [less ▲]

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See detailFrom Information Theory Puzzles in Deletion Channels to Deniability in Quantum Cryptography
Atashpendar, Arash UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Research questions, originally rooted in quantum key exchange (QKE), have branched off into independent lines of inquiry ranging from information theory to fundamental physics. In a similar vein, the ... [more ▼]

Research questions, originally rooted in quantum key exchange (QKE), have branched off into independent lines of inquiry ranging from information theory to fundamental physics. In a similar vein, the first part of this thesis is dedicated to information theory problems in deletion channels that arose in the context of QKE. From the output produced by a memoryless deletion channel with a uniformly random input of known length n, one obtains a posterior distribution on the channel input. The difference between the Shannon entropy of this distribution and that of the uniform prior measures the amount of information about the channel input which is conveyed by the output of length m. We first conjecture on the basis of experimental data that the entropy of the posterior is minimized by the constant strings 000..., 111... and maximized by the alternating strings 0101..., 1010.... Among other things, we derive analytic expressions for minimal entropy and propose alternative approaches for tackling the entropy extremization problem. We address a series of closely related combinatorial problems involving binary (sub/super)-sequences and prove the original minimal entropy conjecture for the special cases of single and double deletions using clustering techniques and a run-length encoding of strings. The entropy analysis culminates in a fundamental characterization of the extremal entropic cases in terms of the distribution of embeddings. We confirm the minimization conjecture in the asymptotic limit using results from hidden word statistics by showing how the analytic-combinatorial methods of Flajolet, Szpankowski and Vallée, relying on generating functions, can be applied to resolve the case of fixed output length and n → ∞. In the second part, we revisit the notion of deniability in QKE, a topic that remains largely unexplored. In a work by Donald Beaver it is argued that QKE protocols are not necessarily deniable due to an eavesdropping attack that limits key equivocation. We provide more insight into the nature of this attack and discuss how it extends to other prepare-and-measure QKE schemes such as QKE obtained from uncloneable encryption. We adopt the framework for quantum authenticated key exchange developed by Mosca et al. and extend it to introduce the notion of coercer-deniable QKE, formalized in terms of the indistinguishability of real and fake coercer views. We also elaborate on the differences between our model and the standard simulation-based definition of deniable key exchange in the classical setting. We establish a connection between the concept of covert communication and deniability by applying results from a work by Arrazola and Scarani on obtaining covert quantum communication and covert QKE to propose a simple construction for coercer-deniable QKE. We prove the deniability of this scheme via a reduction to the security of covert QKE. We relate deniability to fundamental concepts in quantum information theory and suggest a generic approach based on entanglement distillation for achieving information-theoretic deniability, followed by an analysis of other closely related results such as the relation between the impossibility of unconditionally secure quantum bit commitment and deniability. Finally, we present an efficient coercion-resistant and quantum-secure voting scheme, based on fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) and recent advances in various FHE primitives such as hashing, zero-knowledge proofs of correct decryption, verifiable shuffles and threshold FHE. [less ▲]

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See detailArtificial Intelligence for the Detection of Electricity Theft and Irregular Power Usage in Emerging Markets
Glauner, Patrick Oliver UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Power grids are critical infrastructure assets that face non-technical losses (NTL), which include, but are not limited to, electricity theft, broken or malfunctioning meters and arranged false meter ... [more ▼]

Power grids are critical infrastructure assets that face non-technical losses (NTL), which include, but are not limited to, electricity theft, broken or malfunctioning meters and arranged false meter readings. In emerging markets, NTL are a prime concern and often range up to 40% of the total electricity distributed. The annual world-wide costs for utilities due to NTL are estimated to be around USD 100 billion. Reducing NTL in order to increase revenue, profit and reliability of the grid is therefore of vital interest to utilities and authorities. In the beginning of this thesis, we provide an in-depth discussion of the causes of NTL and the economic effects thereof. Industrial NTL detection systems are still largely based on expert knowledge when deciding whether to carry out costly on-site inspections of customers. Electric utilities are reluctant to move to large-scale deployments of automated systems that learn NTL profiles from data. This is due to the latter's propensity to suggest a large number of unnecessary inspections. In this thesis, we compare expert knowledge-based decision making systems to automated statistical decision making. We then branch out our research into different directions: First, in order to allow human experts to feed their knowledge in the decision process, we propose a method for visualizing prediction results at various granularity levels in a spatial hologram. Our approach allows domain experts to put the classification results into the context of the data and to incorporate their knowledge for making the final decisions of which customers to inspect. Second, we propose a machine learning framework that classifies customers into NTL or non-NTL using a variety of features derived from the customers' consumption data as well as a selection of master data. The methodology used is specifically tailored to the level of noise in the data. Last, we discuss the issue of biases in data sets. A bias occurs whenever training sets are not representative of the test data, which results in unreliable models. We show how quantifying and reducing these biases leads to an increased accuracy of the trained NTL detectors. This thesis has resulted in appreciable results on real-world big data sets of millions customers. Our systems are being deployed in a commercial NTL detection software. We also provide suggestions on how to further reduce NTL by not only carrying out inspections, but by implementing market reforms, increasing efficiency in the organization of utilities and improving communication between utilities, authorities and customers. [less ▲]

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See detailCo-evolutionary Hybrid Bi-level Optimization
Kieffer, Emmanuel UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Multi-level optimization stems from the need to tackle complex problems involving multiple decision makers. Two-level optimization, referred as ``Bi-level optimization'', occurs when two decision makers ... [more ▼]

Multi-level optimization stems from the need to tackle complex problems involving multiple decision makers. Two-level optimization, referred as ``Bi-level optimization'', occurs when two decision makers only control part of the decision variables but impact each other (e.g., objective value, feasibility). Bi-level problems are sequential by nature and can be represented as nested optimization problems in which one problem (the ``upper-level'') is constrained by another one (the ``lower-level''). The nested structure is a real obstacle that can be highly time consuming when the lower-level is $\mathcal{NP}-hard$. Consequently, classical nested optimization should be avoided. Some surrogate-based approaches have been proposed to approximate the lower-level objective value function (or variables) to reduce the number of times the lower-level is globally optimized. Unfortunately, such a methodology is not applicable for large-scale and combinatorial bi-level problems. After a deep study of theoretical properties and a survey of the existing applications being bi-level by nature, problems which can benefit from a bi-level reformulation are investigated. A first contribution of this work has been to propose a novel bi-level clustering approach. Extending the well-know ``uncapacitated k-median problem'', it has been shown that clustering can be easily modeled as a two-level optimization problem using decomposition techniques. The resulting two-level problem is then turned into a bi-level problem offering the possibility to combine distance metrics in a hierarchical manner. The novel bi-level clustering problem has a very interesting property that enable us to tackle it with classical nested approaches. Indeed, its lower-level problem can be solved in polynomial time. In cooperation with the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), this new clustering model has been applied on real datasets such as disease maps (e.g. Parkinson, Alzheimer). Using a novel hybrid and parallel genetic algorithm as optimization approach, the results obtained after a campaign of experiments have the ability to produce new knowledge compared to classical clustering techniques combining distance metrics in a classical manner. The previous bi-level clustering model has the advantage that the lower-level can be solved in polynomial time although the global problem is by definition $\mathcal{NP}$-hard. Therefore, next investigations have been undertaken to tackle more general bi-level problems in which the lower-level problem does not present any specific advantageous properties. Since the lower-level problem can be very expensive to solve, the focus has been turned to surrogate-based approaches and hyper-parameter optimization techniques with the aim of approximating the lower-level problem and reduce the number of global lower-level optimizations. Adapting the well-know bayesian optimization algorithm to solve general bi-level problems, the expensive lower-level optimizations have been dramatically reduced while obtaining very accurate solutions. The resulting solutions and the number of spared lower-level optimizations have been compared to the bi-level evolutionary algorithm based on quadratic approximations (BLEAQ) results after a campaign of experiments on official bi-level benchmarks. Although both approaches are very accurate, the bi-level bayesian version required less lower-level objective function calls. Surrogate-based approaches are restricted to small-scale and continuous bi-level problems although many real applications are combinatorial by nature. As for continuous problems, a study has been performed to apply some machine learning strategies. Instead of approximating the lower-level solution value, new approximation algorithms for the discrete/combinatorial case have been designed. Using the principle employed in GP hyper-heuristics, heuristics are trained in order to tackle efficiently the $\mathcal{NP}-hard$ lower-level of bi-level problems. This automatic generation of heuristics permits to break the nested structure into two separated phases: \emph{training lower-level heuristics} and \emph{solving the upper-level problem with the new heuristics}. At this occasion, a second modeling contribution has been introduced through a novel large-scale and mixed-integer bi-level problem dealing with pricing in the cloud, i.e., the Bi-level Cloud Pricing Optimization Problem (BCPOP). After a series of experiments that consisted in training heuristics on various lower-level instances of the BCPOP and using them to tackle the bi-level problem itself, the obtained results are compared to the ``cooperative coevolutionary algorithm for bi-level optimization'' (COBRA). Although training heuristics enables to \emph{break the nested structure}, a two phase optimization is still required. Therefore, the emphasis has been put on training heuristics while optimizing the upper-level problem using competitive co-evolution. Instead of adopting the classical decomposition scheme as done by COBRA which suffers from the strong epistatic links between lower-level and upper-level variables, co-evolving the solution and the mean to get to it can cope with these epistatic link issues. The ``CARBON'' algorithm developed in this thesis is a competitive and hybrid co-evolutionary algorithm designed for this purpose. In order to validate the potential of CARBON, numerical experiments have been designed and results have been compared to state-of-the-art algorithms. These results demonstrate that ``CARBON'' makes possible to address nested optimization efficiently. [less ▲]

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See detailA Transaction’s Journey: Transactional Enhancements for Public Blockchain-based Distributed Ledgers
Fiz Pontiveros, Beltran UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Interest in the decentralised nature of blockchain-based distributed ledgers has rapidly grown over the past few years. While a portion of this interest is fuelled by the price surge in Bitcoin towards ... [more ▼]

Interest in the decentralised nature of blockchain-based distributed ledgers has rapidly grown over the past few years. While a portion of this interest is fuelled by the price surge in Bitcoin towards the end of 2017, numerous companies across industries such as healthcare and finance have shown a keen interest in this technology and begun investing in diverse research projects. The work presented in this dissertation proposes a series of enhancements to blockchain-based distributed ledger technologies by focusing on a key element in the system: the transaction. By investigating the life cycle of a transaction in popular blockchain systems like bitcoin and ethereum, several enhancements were identified to tackle some of the challenges under active research today by the blockchain community. [less ▲]

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See detailSupporting Change in Product Lines Within the Context of Use Case-driven Development and Testing
Hajri, Ines UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Product Line Engineering (PLE) is a crucial practice in many software development environments where systems are complex and developed for multiple customers with varying needs. At the same time, many ... [more ▼]

Product Line Engineering (PLE) is a crucial practice in many software development environments where systems are complex and developed for multiple customers with varying needs. At the same time, many business contexts are use case-driven where use cases are the main artifacts driving requirements elicitation and many other development activities. In these contexts, variability information is often not explicitly represented, which leads to ad-hoc change management for use cases, domain models and test cases in product families. In this thesis, we address the problems of modeling variability in requirements with additional traceability to feature models and the manual and error prone requirements configuration and regression testing in product families. We provide the following contributions: - A modeling method for capturing variability information in product line use case and domain models by relying exclusively on commonly used artifacts in use-case driven development, thus avoiding unnecessary modeling overhead. - An approach for automated configuration of product specific use case and domain models that guides customers in making configuration decisions and automatically generates use case diagrams, use case specifications, and domain models for configured products. - A change impact analysis approach for evolving configuration decisions in product line use case models that automatically identifies the impact of decision changes on other decisions, and incrementally reconfigures product specific use case diagrams and specifications for evolving decisions. - An approach for automated classification and prioritization of system test cases in a family of products that automatically classifies and prioritizes, for each new product, system test cases of previous product(s) in a product line, and provides guidance in modifying existing system test cases to cover new use case scenarios that have not been tested in the product line before. All our approaches have been developed and evaluated in close collaboration with our industry partner IEE. [less ▲]

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See detailA study of the molecular mechanisms underlying the response of human colorectal adenomacarcinoma enterocytes to prebiotics and probiotics
Greenhalgh, Kacy UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbiome plays essential roles in maintaining human health. A variety of diseases including colorectal cancer (CRC) are associated with microbial dysbiosis ... [more ▼]

The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbiome plays essential roles in maintaining human health. A variety of diseases including colorectal cancer (CRC) are associated with microbial dysbiosis. Administration of microbial isolates associated with health benefits (e.g. prebiotics) together with specific dietary components (e.g., probiotics) may find application as supportive therapeutic options in the treatment and management of CRC. Although microbiome-modulating therapeutics hold great promise, such approaches are presently not formally integrated into treatment plans. To obtain better understanding of combined pre- and probiotic regimens in relation to CRC, the present study was dedicated to investigate the effects of selected prebiotics on the proliferation of CRC primary cells and conventional CRC-cell lines, the effects of prebiotics on the growth and metabolism of selected probiotic strains, and the combinatorial/synbiotic effects of selected pre- and probiotics on CRC proliferation. In addition, this work established the in vitro gut-on-a chip HuMiX model with a simulated high-fibre medium for co-culturing human and microbial cells in HuMiX. Furthermore, the anti-carcinogenic combinatorial effects of dietary fiber (e.g., prebiotics), and GIT bacteria (e.g., probiotics) were evaluated using human GIT transcriptomes and metabolomes in HuMiX. An integrated in vitro and in silico modeling approach was finally established to decipher the complex cross-talk between gut bacteria, dietary components and human host cells. My results demonstrate that in stark contrast to the individual pre- or probiotic treatments, the synbiotic regimen of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and dietary fiber results in the down-regulation of genes involved in pro-carcinogenic pathways and drug resistance (e.g., ABC transporters) and reduced levels of the oncometabolite lactate. Distinct ratios of organic and short-chain fatty acids are produced during the simulated regimens. Treatment of primary CRC-derived cells with a molecular cocktail reflecting the synbiotic regimen attenuated self-renewal capacity. The developped integrated in vitro and in silico modelling approach provides mechanistic insights into the interplay between pre- and probiotics and elucidation of the microbiota-host relationship. In summary, my dissertation work illustrates the potential of HuMiX to be used for nutritional studies and more precisely for studying the underlying mechanisms of the effects that dietary components (e.g., dietary fiber) and probiotics have on CRC-derived cells. Thereby, this dissertation work highlights the potential for formulating efficacious dietary supplements including synbiotics in the context of therapeutic regimens for microbiome-linked diseases in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailTopology and interaction effects in one-dimensional systems
Calzona, Alessio UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

With the discovery of the integer quantum Hall effect by von Klitzing and collaborators in 1980, the mathematical field of topology entered the world of condensed matter physics. Almost three decades ... [more ▼]

With the discovery of the integer quantum Hall effect by von Klitzing and collaborators in 1980, the mathematical field of topology entered the world of condensed matter physics. Almost three decades later, this eventually led to the theoretical prediction and the experimental realization of many intriguing topological materials and topology-based devices. In this Ph.D. thesis, we will study the interplay between topology and another key topic in condensed matter physics, namely the study of inter-particle interactions in many-body systems. This interplay is analyzed from two different perspectives. Firstly, we studied how the presence of electron-electron interactions affects single-electron injection into a couple of counter-propagating one-dimensional edge channels. The latter appear at the edges of topologically non-trivial systems in the quantum spin Hall regime and they can also be engineered by exploiting the integer quantum Hall effect. Because of inter-channel interactions, the injected electron splits up into a couple of counter-propagating fractional excitations. Here, we carefully study and discuss their properties by means of an analytical approach based on the Luttinger liquid theory and the bosonization method. Our results are quite relevant in the context of the so-called electron quantum optics, a fast developing field which deeply exploits the topological protection of one-dimensional edge states to study the coherent propagation of electrons in solid-state devices. As an aside, we also showed that similar analytical techniques can also be used to study the time-resolved dynamics of a Luttinger liquid subject to a sudden change of the interaction strength, a protocol known as quantum quench which is gaining more and more attention, especially within the cold-atoms community. Secondly, we study how inter-particle interactions can enhance the topological properties of strictly one-dimensional fermionic systems. More precisely, the starting point is the seminal Kitaev chain, a free-fermionic lattice model which hosts exotic Majorana zero-energy modes at its ends. The latter are extremely relevant in the context of topological quantum computation because of their non-Abelian anyonic exchange statistics. Here we show that, by properly adding electron-electron interactions to the Kitaev chain, it is possible to obtain lattice models which feature zero-energy parafermionic modes, an even more intriguing generalization of Majoranas. To this end, we develop at first an exact mapping between Z4 parafermions and ordinary fermions on a lattice. We subsequently exploit this mapping to analytically obtain an exactly solvable fermionic model hosting zero-energy parafermions. We study their properties and numerically investigate their signatures and robustness even when parameters are tuned away from the exactly solvable point. [less ▲]

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See detailBioactive nanotopographies for the control of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation for applications in bone tissue engineering
Realista Coelho Dos Santos Pedrosa, Catarina UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Nanotopography with length scales of the order of extracellular matrix elements offers the possibility of regulating cell behavior. Investigation of the impact of nanotopography on cell response has been ... [more ▼]

Nanotopography with length scales of the order of extracellular matrix elements offers the possibility of regulating cell behavior. Investigation of the impact of nanotopography on cell response has been limited by inability to precisely control geometries, especially at high spatial resolutions, and across practically large areas. This work allowed the fabrication of well-controlled and periodic nanopillar arrays of silicon to investigate their impact on osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Silicon nanopillar arrays with critical dimensions in the range of 40-200 nm, exhibiting standard deviations below 15% across full wafers were realized using self-assembly of block copolymer colloids. To investigate if modifications of surface chemistry could further improve the modulation of hMSC differentiation, mimetic peptides were grafted on the fabricated nanoarrays. A peptide known for its ability to ameliorate cell adhesion (RGD peptide), a synthetic peptide able to enhance osteogenesis (BMP-2 mimetic peptide), and a combination or both molecules were covalently grafted on the nanostructures. Immunofluorescence and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) measurements reveal clear dependence of osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs on the diameter and periodicity of the arrays. Moreover, the differentiation of hMSCs was found to be dependent on the age of the donor. Surface functionalization allowed additional enhancement of the expression of osteogenic markers, in particular when RGD peptide and BMP-2 mimetic peptide were co-immobilized. These findings can contribute for the development of personalized treatments of bone diseases, namely novel implant nanostructuring depending on patient age. [less ▲]

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See detailDefining, Measuring, and Enabling Transparency for Electronic Medical Systems
Pierina Brustolin Spagnuelo, Dayana UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Transparency is a novel concept in the context of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It has arisen from regulations as a data protection principle, and it is now being studied to encompass ... [more ▼]

Transparency is a novel concept in the context of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It has arisen from regulations as a data protection principle, and it is now being studied to encompass the peculiarities of digital information. Transparency, however, is not the first security concept to be borrowed from regulations; privacy once emerged from discussions on individual’s rights. Privacy began to be vigorously debated in 1890, when Warren and Brandeis analysed legal cases for which penalties were applied on the basis of defamation, infringement of copyrights, and violation of confidence. The authors defended that those cases were, in fact, built upon a broader principle called privacy. But privacy was only given a structured definition almost one century later, in 1960, when Prosser examined cases produced after Warren and Brandeis’ work, classifying violation of privacy into four different torts; it took twenty years more before the concept was thoroughly studied for its functions in ICT. Guidelines by the OECD outlined principles to support the discussion of privacy as a technical requirement. Proceeded by international standards for a privacy framework (ISO/IEC 29100), which translated the former legal concepts into information security terms, such as data minimisation, accuracy, and accountability. Transparency has a younger, but comparable history; the current General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) defines it as a principle which requires “that any information and communication relating to the processing of those personal data be easily accessible and easy to understand [..]". However, other related and more abstract concepts preceded it. In the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, the Privacy Rule demands to document privacy policies and procedures and to notify individuals of uses of their health information. Former European Directives, i.e., 95/46/EC and 2011/24/EU, establish “the right for individuals to have access to their personal data concerning their health [..] also in the context of cross-border healthcare”. The same did the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966, instituting that any person has a right to obtain from agencies information regarding their records. These and other similar requests refer to the transversal quality called transparency. Similarly to what happened with privacy, transparency was also the subject of guidelines that clarify its interpretation in ICT. However, no framework or standard has been defined yet that translates transparency into a technical property. This translation is the goal of our work. This thesis is dedicated to debate existing interpretations for transparency, to establish requirements and measurement procedures for it, and to study solutions that can help systems adhere to the transparency principle from a technical perspective. Our work constitutes an initial step towards the definition of a framework that helps accomplish meaningful transparency in the context of Electronic Medical Systems. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegration of omics data for biotechnology-relevant microbial communities
Herold, Malte UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Naturally occurring and artificial bacterial communities play an import role in many biotechnological processes. To elucidate bacterial interactions that are important for potential optimized ... [more ▼]

Naturally occurring and artificial bacterial communities play an import role in many biotechnological processes. To elucidate bacterial interactions that are important for potential optimized biotechnological applications, high-throughput measurements of biomolecules, metagenomics, metratranscriptomics,metaproteomics, and meta-metabolomics provide a detailed snapshot of mixed microbial consortia. Integration of multiple layers of omics data allows to reconstruct structure and function of complex microbial communities and is demonstrated for two different model systems. The first chapter focuses on synthetic communities consisting of strains representing key species found in biomining operations and acid mine drainage and that are of economical interest for copper production. A high-quality closed reference genome for L. ferriphilum was obtained by DNA sequencing and was subsequently used to integrate functional omics data, i.e. transcriptomic and proteomic profiling. The combination of genomics, genome annotation, and functional omics data allowed an in-depth characterization of L. ferriphilum in culture medium and in the presence of the iron sulfide mineral chalcopyrite, an economically relevant copper ore. Subsequently, analyses were performed for co-cultures of up to three organisms highlighting specific interaction mechanisms. The cultures without L. ferriphilum showed higher copper solubilisation rates, as the highly efficient iron oxidiser might raise the redox potential above the optimal range. For in situ studies, reference-based analyses are of limited use, e.g. due to a lack in reference genomes of culturable isolates. Hence, the second chapter focuses on an approach to study mixed microbial communities independent of prior knowledge and available reference genomes. A timeseries of oleaginous floating sludge samples that spans over one and a half years was analysed by integrating metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, metaproteomic, and meta-metabolomic data. This allowed the reconstruction of population level genomes and the characterization of the niches of the respective populations. The functional potential was assessed, as well as expression profiles over time, yielding a detailed view on lifestyle strategies and the potential impact of abiotic factors. Understanding the niche ecology of the predominant lipid accumulators in the system could lead towards optimized biofuel production. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst-Principles Modeling of Molecular Crystals: Crystal Structure Prediction and Vibrational Properties
Hoja, Johannes UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Understanding the structure and stability, as well as response properties of molecular crystals at certain thermodynamic conditions is crucial for the engineering of new molecular materials and the design ... [more ▼]

Understanding the structure and stability, as well as response properties of molecular crystals at certain thermodynamic conditions is crucial for the engineering of new molecular materials and the design of pharmaceuticals. A reliable description of the polymorphic energy landscape of a molecular crystal would provide an extensive insight into the development of drugs in terms of the existence and the likelihood of late-appearing polymorphs. Furthermore, accurate modeling of low-frequency vibrational spectra would be important for the characterization of molecular crystal polymorphs. However, an accurate description of molecular crystals is very challenging since many properties highly depend on the crystal-packing arrangement of the involved molecules and the temperature. The difficulties for computational predictions of molecular crystal polymorphs lie in the high dimensionality of crystallographic and conformational space, and the need for very accurate relative free energies. It was shown that accurate lattice energies can be obtained by using density-functional theory (DFT) calculations supplemented by a high-level model for long-range van der Waals (vdW) dispersion interactions, such as the many-body dispersion (MBD) model. Therefore, this thesis utilizes throughout vdW-inclusive DFT using the MBD and the related pairwise Tkatchenko-Scheffler (TS) dispersion model and the importance of dispersion interactions is highlighted for several properties. A hierarchical stability-ranking approach based on the DFT+MBD framework for the final stage of a molecular crystal structure prediction procedure is presented and analyzed. This approach provides excellent stability rankings over the diverse set of molecular crystals studied in the latest blind test of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre. The results suggest that accounting for many-body dispersion effects and vibrational free energies can be crucial for the description of relative stabilities, especially for highly polymorphic systems. The presented approach enables the calculation of reliable structures and thermodynamic stabilities for pharmaceutically relevant systems, contributing to a better understanding of complex polymorphic energy landscapes. Furthermore, many first-principles calculations are performed by using fully optimized structures and free energies obtained within the harmonic approximation, neglecting the thermal expansion of the studied molecular crystal and further anharmonic effects. Therefore, this thesis illustrates that the majority of the thermal expansion of molecular crystals can be captured with the used methods by applying the quasi-harmonic approximation. In addition, we estimate further anharmonic effects on the vibrational frequencies by utilizing Morse oscillators. [less ▲]

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See detailEntrepreneurial Teams, New Venture Direction and Growth: Evidence from Luxembourg
Tryba Geb. Fricke, Anne Karin UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

New ventures can be an important driver of economic growth and technological progress. Yet, many new ventures fail and do not overcome the challenges of the early entrepreneurial phase. Extant research ... [more ▼]

New ventures can be an important driver of economic growth and technological progress. Yet, many new ventures fail and do not overcome the challenges of the early entrepreneurial phase. Extant research has acknowledged that the people who jointly start and manage a new venture have a key impact on its subsequent success and development. However, a discrepancy exists in how the interplay of their characteristics, cognition, and actions ultimately shape the way a new venture evolves. Therefore the primary purpose of this thesis is to contribute to this research stream by exploring the multifaceted role of entrepreneurial teams for new venture direction and growth. This is done with the aid of three research papers relying on a multiple case study and a specifically designed dataset from Luxembourg. The first paper illuminates how the shared pre-start-up transition moments of entrepreneurial team members influence the joint decision logic in the initial venture phase. Focusing on the composition of entrepreneurial teams, the second paper illustrates early activities that allow new ventures to leverage the diverse educational backgrounds of their team members to achieve financial growth. Lastly, the third paper explores aspects of leadership in new ventures and uncovers how agreement on an early shared vision affects subsequent changes in the entrepreneurial team, taking into account members’ relational ties. This thesis makes important contributions to research in entrepreneurship and strategic management, adding to a more fine-grained view on the micro-foundations and outcomes of entrepreneurial action. Also, it has practical implications for entrepreneurs, their mentors and investors, entrepreneurship education and policymakers. [less ▲]

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See detailZebrafish models of Dravet syndrome: discovery of antiseizure drug leads and analysis of behavioural comorbidities
Jacmin, Maxime UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Dravet syndrome (DS) is one of the most frequent genetic epilepsies, with an incidence of 1/30,000. Most DS patients are pharmacoresistant, in that they do not respond adequately to currently available ... [more ▼]

Dravet syndrome (DS) is one of the most frequent genetic epilepsies, with an incidence of 1/30,000. Most DS patients are pharmacoresistant, in that they do not respond adequately to currently available anticonvulsant drugs (ASDs). Beside the seizure occurrence in these patients, many DS patients also suffer from cognitive impairment that can be aggravated by some of the seizure medications prescribed. Preclinical models such as mouse models of Dravet syndrome have been developed and described to exhibit cognitive deficits similar to those of DS patients, but are only suitable for the evaluation of small number of compounds, thereby limiting their utility for drug discovery. An animal model with higher screening throughput would therefore be of value for drug discovery efforts focused on seizure reduction and decrease of the comorbidities associated with DS. Recent studies on zebrafish have demonstrated its ability to be a promising in vivo model for DS. Two different zebrafish DS models - one based on a loss-of-function mutation in the zebrafish ortholog of SCN1A, the other based on an antisense knockdown of this gene - exhibit seizure-like behaviour and epileptiform discharges that are exacerbated by hyperthermia. The mutant line was also described to display greater anxiety levels. In this Doctoral thesis project, we are investigating these zebrafish DS models with regard to (1) their seizure occurrence and potential reduction following exposure to several anticonvulsant drug candidates, and (2), their cognitive functions in order to determine possible similarities with cognitive impairment in human DS patients. Our results indicate these zebrafish DS models to exhibit memory impairment and higher anxiety levels. These findings provide an initial insight into the resemblance between human patients and zebrafish in terms of comorbidities. Finally, we also identified several novel anticonvulsant compounds and drug candidates with antiseizure activity in these zebrafish DS models. [less ▲]

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See detailPrivacy-preserving Recommender Systems Facilitated By The Machine Learning Approach
Wang, Jun UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Recommender systems, which play a critical role in e-business services, are closely linked to our daily life. For example, companies such as Youtube and Amazon are always trying to secure their profit by ... [more ▼]

Recommender systems, which play a critical role in e-business services, are closely linked to our daily life. For example, companies such as Youtube and Amazon are always trying to secure their profit by estimating personalized user preferences and recommending the most relevant items (e.g., products, news, etc.) to each user from a large number of candidates. State-of-the-art recommender systems are often built on top of collaborative filtering techniques, of which the accuracy performance relies on precisely modeling user-item interactions by analyzing massive user historical data, such as browsing history, purchasing records, locations and so on. Generally, more data can lead to more accurate estimations and more commercial strategies, as such, service providers have incentives to collect and use more user data. On the one hand, recommender systems bring more income to service providers and more convenience to users; on the other hand, the user data can be abused, arising immediate privacy risks to the public. Therefore, how to preserve privacy while enjoying recommendation services becomes an increasingly important topic to both the research community and commercial practitioners. The privacy concerns can be disparate when constructing recommender systems or providing recommendation services under different scenarios. One scenario is that, a service provider wishes to protect its data privacy from the inference attack, a technique aims to infer more information (e.g., whether a record is in or not) about a database, by analyzing statistical outputs; the other scenario is that, multiple users agree to jointly perform a recommendation task, but none of them is willing to share their private data with any other users. Security primitives, such as homomorphic encryption, secure multiparty computation, and differential privacy, are immediate candidates to address privacy concerns. A typical approach to build efficient and accurate privacy-preserving solutions is to improve the security primitives, and then apply them to existing recommendation algorithms. However, this approach often yields a solution far from the satisfactory-of-practice, as most users have a low tolerance to the latency-increase or accuracy-drop, regarding recommendation services. The PhD program explores machine learning aided approaches to build efficient privacy-preserving solutions for recommender systems. The results of each proposed solution demonstrate that machine learning can be a strong assistant for privacy-preserving, rather than only a troublemaker. [less ▲]

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See detailTransport and thermodynamics in driven quantum systems
Haughian, Patrick UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

This thesis studies the nonequilibrium properties of quantum dots with regard to electrical conduction as well as thermodynamics. The work documented here shows how these properties behave under the ... [more ▼]

This thesis studies the nonequilibrium properties of quantum dots with regard to electrical conduction as well as thermodynamics. The work documented here shows how these properties behave under the influence of time-dependent drive protocols, pursuing two main lines of inquiry. The first concerns the interplay between nanomechanics and drive: In nanomechanical systems with strong coupling between the charge and vibrational sectors, conductance is strongly suppressed, an effect known as Franck-Condon blockade. Using a model Hamiltonian for a molecular quantum dot coupled to a pair of leads, it is shown here that this blockade can be exponentially lifted by resonantly driving the dot. Moreover, a multi-drive protocol is proposed for such a system to facilitate charge pumping that enjoys the same exponential amplification. The second line of inquiry moves beyond charge transport, examining the thermodynamics of a driven quantum dot coupled to a lead. Taking a Green's function approach, it is found that the laws of thermodynamics can be formulated for arbitrary dot-lead coupling strength in the presence of dot and coupling drive, as long as the drive protocol only exhibits mild non-adiabaticity. Finally, the effects of initial states are studied in this situation, proving that the integrated work production in the long-time limit conforms to the second law of thermodynamics for a wide class of initial states and arbitrary drive and coupling strength. [less ▲]

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See detailWine as an Investment
Sun, Huizhu UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

During the last two decades, the wine auction market experienced non-monotonic dynamics and provided abnormal returns. When fine wine prices started to rise in the mid-1980s, wine investing transcended ... [more ▼]

During the last two decades, the wine auction market experienced non-monotonic dynamics and provided abnormal returns. When fine wine prices started to rise in the mid-1980s, wine investing transcended from a pastime into a serious investment transforming wine into a widespread investment activity. As an alternative asset, fine wine attracts increased attention among individual and institutional investors in recent years, particularly during the financial crisis due to its diversification potential. Economists also began evaluating wine as a new alternative asset class. In this thesis, we review the wine auction markets, study the price dynamics, and answer some fundamental questions. To build solid conclusions, we developed the largest French wine auction database encompassing the last 20 years. We summary our main contributions as follows. First, we review and explain the growth in recent global wine auction markets. Second, we construct price indices with hedonic regression models to observe market movements. Third, we investigate wine investment’s diversification potential. Wine in an optimal portfolio can improve the risk-return characteristics; however, the augmentation depends significantly on the market segmentation to which the investor applies it. Fourth, we analyze the wine price bubbles and collapses detection using a newly developed econometric approach. We elucidate strong evidence of two bubbles in the Bordeaux and Burgundy wine auction markets, whereas Rhône wine price behaved in a similar, but less significant, trend as Bordeaux and Burgundy wine markets. Finally, we examine the price determinants with a particular focus on the expert effect on this experienced good. We illuminate expert influence remains economically and statistically significant throughout the sample period. Using event study methodology, we disentangle the expert effect from other price variations and assert the market significantly reflects expert’s big re-ratings in the short term, yet the effect diminishes over time. However, this re-rating effect holds insignificant for modest changes. [less ▲]

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See detailLegitimate expectations in Luxembourg tax law - A study of administrative circulars and tax rulings issued by the Luxembourg tax authorities
Chaouche, Fatima UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

This thesis analyzes the status of tax circulars and tax rulings in domestic law. More precisely, by first studying the status of each of these administrative interpretative acts, I then investigate their ... [more ▼]

This thesis analyzes the status of tax circulars and tax rulings in domestic law. More precisely, by first studying the status of each of these administrative interpretative acts, I then investigate their enforceability before domestic courts and enquire to what extent unlawful circulars and contra legem rulings can be relied upon by virtue of the principle of legitimate expectations. After extracting a series of shortcomings in the protection of taxpayers who rely on such administrative interpretative acts, I then, articulate from a normative perspective, what I claim to be the appropriate level of protection for contra legem circulars and advance decisions in the Luxembourg legal order. [less ▲]

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See detailConservation Laws in Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics: Stochastic Processes, Chemical Reaction Networks, and Information Processing
Rao, Riccardo UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Thermodynamics has a long history. It was established during the 19th century as a phenomenological theory grasping the principles underlying heat engines. In the 20th and 21st centuries its range of ... [more ▼]

Thermodynamics has a long history. It was established during the 19th century as a phenomenological theory grasping the principles underlying heat engines. In the 20th and 21st centuries its range of applicability was extended to nonequilibrium stochastic and chemical processes. However a systematic procedure to identify the thermodynamic forces at work in these systems was lacking. In this thesis, we provide one by making use of conservation laws. Of particular importance are the conservation laws which are broken when putting the system in contact with different reservoirs (thermostats or chemostats). These laws depend on the internal structure of the system and are specific to each system. We introduce a systematic procedure to identify them and show how they shape the entropy production (i.e. the dissipation) into fundamental contributions. Each of these provides precious insight on how to drive and control the system out of equilibrium. We first present our results at the level of phenomenological thermodynamics. We then show that they can be systematically derived for various dynamics: Markov jump processes used in stochastic thermodynamics, also including the chemical master equation, and deterministic chemical rate equations with and without diffusion, which are used to describe chemical reaction networks. Generalized nonequilibrium Landauer principles ensue form our theory. They predict that the minimal thermodynamic cost necessary to transform the system from an arbitrary nonequilibrium state to another can be expressed in terms of information metrics such as relative entropies between the equilibrium and nonequilibrium states of the system. [less ▲]

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See detailBildungswerte und Schulentfremdung: Institutions- und Kompositionseffekte in den Bildungskontexten Luxemburgs und der Schweiz
Scharf, Jan UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Values and attitudes towards schooling – as the core concepts of this research – are increasingly recognized as important factors affecting educational achievement and attainment. Values of Education (VoE ... [more ▼]

Values and attitudes towards schooling – as the core concepts of this research – are increasingly recognized as important factors affecting educational achievement and attainment. Values of Education (VoE) are conceptualised along the five instrumental goals outlined in the social production function theory by Lindenberg (1991; Ormel et al., 1999). School alienation (SAL) is defined as negative attitudes towards academic domains of schooling, namely teachers and learning (Hascher & Hadjar, 2018: 179). Based on the assumption that SAL depicts a process intensified over the course of secondary education (Finn, 1989), this dissertation finds evidence for developmental trends between grade seven and grade eight comparatively across country settings and to show how educational contexts and the perceived VoE affect SAL. This sociological study provides an in-depth comparison of the stratified school systems of Luxembourg and of the Canton of Berne (Switzerland) based upon newly-collected panel data of the international research project School Alienation in Switzerland and Luxembourg (SASAL) (N = 465/508). Following the distinction of primary and secondary effects of social origin by Boudon (1974), these core concepts are discussed in the frames of Bourdieu’s (1982 [1979], 1992) habitus theory, emphasizing the transmission of cultural capital in families, and of rational choice approaches (e.g. Esser, 1999). Moreover, theoretical approaches on disparities structured by gender (e.g. Breen et al., 2010) and migration background (Kristen & Dollmann, 2010) as well as further axes of educational inequalities are considered to explain found differences in students’ educational values and attitudes towards schooling. The validation of the measurement instrument of VoE by means of factor analysis indicates four dimensions of VoE among school students in these contexts: stimulation as an intrinsic value, comfort and status related to standards of living and future career goals, behavioural confirmation in terms of expectations of significant others, and the social goal affection. Structural equation models demonstrate that the lower value of stimulation through education among boys mediates their higher level of SAL across country contexts. Yet, a higher value of comfort/status among students increases the development of negative attitudes. Whereas immigrant students’ higher behavioural confirmation in the Canton of Bern backs the immigrant optimism thesis (Kao & Tienda, 1995), immigrant students in Luxembourg reveal a general lower VoE and are more alienated from teachers. Contextual effects estimated in multilevel models explain the higher prevalence of alienation from learning in Luxembourgish classrooms. Within the stratified and segregated secondary schooling, students in the academic track are more alienated compared to students in technical secondary education. This result contradicts the differentiation–polarization theory (Van Houtte, 2006) in the context of Luxembourg. On the other hand, in Berne, alienation from learning does not differ between school tracks, but is overall lower in the less segregated, more permeable schools. Classroom composition effects, however, show no clear pattern. In line with prior research, alienation from learning is lower in Luxembourgish classrooms with a higher percentage of immigrant students. With regard to the consequences of SAL, the results show a negative impact of alienation from learning on school achievement in both country settings. Deriving implications, the findings provide some arguments in favour of comprehensive school models. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Significance of the Place of Performance in Commercial Contracts under the European Union Choice of Law Rules
Okoli, Chukwuma Samuel Adesina UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The central theme of this thesis is that the place of performance is of considerable significance as a connecting factor in international commercial contracts. This thesis challenges and questions the ... [more ▼]

The central theme of this thesis is that the place of performance is of considerable significance as a connecting factor in international commercial contracts. This thesis challenges and questions the approach of the European legislator, which does not explicitly give the place of performance special significance in the determination of the applicable law in the absence of choice for commercial contracts. This thesis proposes that the place of performance should be explicitly given special significance under a revised Article 4 of Rome I Regulation. Second, it is argued that the absolute significance given to the place of performance in determining foreign country overriding mandatory rules is a good reason why the place of performance should be explicitly given special significance under a revised Article 4 of Rome I Regulation. Third, inspired by the coherence between matters of European Union jurisdiction and choice of law in civil and commercial matters, it is argued that the place of performance which is given special significance under the European Union rules on the allocation of jurisdiction for commercial contracts is a good reason why the place of performance should be explicitly given special significance under a revised Article 4 of Rome I Regulation. This thesis then concludes by proposing a model revised Article 4 of Rome I Regulation that could be used as an international solution by legislators, judges, arbitrators, and other decision makers who wish to reform their choice of law rules in determining the applicable law in the absence of choice for international commercial contracts. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluating Vulnerability Prediction Models
Jimenez, Matthieu UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Today almost every device depends on a piece of software. As a result, our life increasingly depends on some software form such as smartphone apps, laundry machines, web applications, computers ... [more ▼]

Today almost every device depends on a piece of software. As a result, our life increasingly depends on some software form such as smartphone apps, laundry machines, web applications, computers, transportation and many others, all of which rely on software. Inevitably, this dependence raises the issue of software vulnerabilities and their possible impact on our lifestyle. Over the years, researchers and industrialists suggested several approaches to detect such issues and vulnerabilities. A particular popular branch of such approaches, usually called Vulnerability Prediction Modelling (VPM) techniques, leverage prediction modelling techniques that flag suspicious (likely vulnerable) code components. These techniques rely on source code features as indicators of vulnerabilities to build the prediction models. However, the emerging question is how effective such methods are and how they can be used in practice. The present dissertation studies vulnerability prediction models and evaluates them on real and reliable playground. To this end, it suggests a toolset that automatically collects real vulnerable code instances, from major open source systems, suitable for applying VPM. These code instances are then used to analyze, replicate, compare and develop new VPMs. Specifically, the dissertation has 3 main axes: The first regards the analysis of vulnerabilities. Indeed, to build VPMs accurately, numerous data are required. However, by their nature, vulnerabilities are scarce and the information about them is spread over different sources (NVD, Git, Bug Trackers). Thus, the suggested toolset (develops an automatic way to build a large dataset) enables the reliable and relevant analysis of VPMs. The second axis focuses on the empirical comparison and analysis of existing Vulnerability Prediction Models. It thus develops and replicates existing VPMs. To this end, the thesis introduces a framework that builds, analyse and compares existing prediction models (using the already proposed sets of features) using the dataset developed on the first axis. The third axis explores the use of cross-entropy (metric used by natural language processing) as a potential feature for developing new VPMs. Cross-entropy, usually referred to as the naturalness of code, is a recent approach that measures the repetitiveness of code (relying on statistical models). Using cross-entropy, the thesis investigates different ways of building and using VPMs. Overall, this thesis provides a fully-fledge study on Vulnerability Prediction Models aiming at assessing and improving their performance. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of floating bodies on buildings and structures during flooding
Liao, Yu-Chung UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Flood is one of the most serious natural disasters that affect human beings, so how to effectively reduce flood damage to human beings is of vital im- portance. One of the keys to reducing flood damage is ... [more ▼]

Flood is one of the most serious natural disasters that affect human beings, so how to effectively reduce flood damage to human beings is of vital im- portance. One of the keys to reducing flood damage is to design buildings effectively enough to withstand flooding and the impact of floating debris on the structures. Although, many studies exist to address the impact of floods on structures, the impact of floating debris on the buildings and structures, i.e. wall or bridge during flooding have not been fully addressed yet. Thus, the objec- tive of this dissertation is to predict the trajectory of floating debris of rivers during flooding and analyze its impact on the structures. For achieving this goal, a numerical tool based on the mesh-less method of Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), Discrete Element Method (DEM) and Finite Element Method (FEM) is proposed in this dissertation. Where SPH is employed to describe the fluid flow and DEM is employed to ob- tain the contact force between the floating debris and structures. And a coupling model of SPH and DEM is presented and implemented based on the OpenFPM, a scalable and open C++ framework for particles and mesh simulation in parallel. Buildings and structures are represented by Finite Element Method (FEM) mesh, for which impact with floating debris is de- termined. These contacts of floating debris cause forces at the positions of impact, e.g. mechanical load and are evaluated by using commercial Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software Abaqus. As a result, a numerical tool combing the SPH-DEM and FEA is presented in this dissertation It is worth to notice, that treating the inlet/outlet con- dition in SPH is a challenging issue due to its Lagrangian nature. A suitable boundary treatment for the inlet / outlet condition in SPH for river flooding problem in 3D is unavailable in literatures. Thus, this dissertation extended the open boundary treatment for SPH using semi-analytical conditions and Riemann solver in 2D (Ferrand et al., 2017) to 3D. Which in results, a new open boundary treatment that is suitable for describing the inlet/outlet condition of SPH in 3D is presented and applied to describe the inlet/outlet condition in this dissertation. The numerical tool is applied to study the scenario of floating trees, trans- porting in the Mosel river and hitting the flood control wall at Kesten town in the west Germany during flooding. As the result of simulation shows, the floating trees are driven by the river and heading to the downstream and eventually collide with the flood control wall. This impact causes the flood control wall crack from the position of impact. Which means that the flood control wall is not capable of standing the impact of floating trees that transported in the river. [less ▲]

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See detailREPRESENTING THE SOCIAL CHARACTER OF PLACES: ONTOLOGY MODELS OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
Calafiore, Alessia UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The thesis aimed at rendering machine understandable the social dimension of urban places to provide a new generation of urban analytics based on peoples’ socio- spatial behaviour. The main outcome has ... [more ▼]

The thesis aimed at rendering machine understandable the social dimension of urban places to provide a new generation of urban analytics based on peoples’ socio- spatial behaviour. The main outcome has been a formal framework, encoded in the form of Ontology Design Patterns, to represent the interaction between the architectural aspects of the city, its form, and the behaviour of city dwellers. Ontology models are based on place theories discussed by social and cultural geographers - such as Henri Lefevbre, Edward Soja and Doreen Massey - and experimented in a knowledge discovery pipeline by exploring geographic crowdsourced data coming from the TripAdvisor platform. [less ▲]

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See detailCollision-Free Navigation of Small UAVs in Complex Urban Environment
Annaiyan, Arun UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to become highly innovative solutions for all kind of tasks such as transport, surveillance, inspection or guidance, and many commercial ideas already ... [more ▼]

Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to become highly innovative solutions for all kind of tasks such as transport, surveillance, inspection or guidance, and many commercial ideas already exist. Herein, small multi rotor UAVs are preferred since they are easy to construct and to fly, at least in wide open spaces. However, many UAV business cases are foreseen in complex urban environments which are very challenging from the perspective of UAV flight. Our work focuses on the autonomous flight and collision-free navigation in an urban environment, where GPS is still considered for localization but where variations in the accuracy or temporary unavailability of GPS position data is explicitly considered. Herein, urban environments are challenging because they require flight nearby large structures and also nearby moving obstacles such as humans and other moving objects, at low altitudes or in very narrow spaces and thus also in areas where GPS (global positioning system) position data might temporarily be very inaccurate or even not available. Therefore we designed a custom stereo camera with adjustable base length for the perception of the possible potential obstacles in the unknown outdoor environment. In this context the optimal design and sensitivity parameters are investigated in outdoor experiments. Using the stereo images, graph based SLAM approach is used for online three dimensional mapping of the static and dynamic environment. For the memory efficiency incremental online loop closure detection using bag of words method is implemented here. By having the three dimensional map, the cost of the cell and its transition calculated in real time by the modified D* lite which will search and generate three dimensional collision free path planning. Experiments of the 3D mapping and collision free path planning are conducted using small UAV in outdoor scenario. The combined experimental results of real time mapping and path planning demonstrated that the three dimensional collision free path planning is able to handle the real time computational constraints while maintaining safety distance. [less ▲]

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See detailNormative Policy Coherence for Development in EU External Policies: A Case Study of the European Union's Development and Trade Policies towards Vietnam
Häbel, Sandra UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The global discourse on people-centered development appeals for a normative dimension in donor policies. As a major donor organization, the European Union (EU) presents itself as a normative actor on the ... [more ▼]

The global discourse on people-centered development appeals for a normative dimension in donor policies. As a major donor organization, the European Union (EU) presents itself as a normative actor on the global stage. However, it is often criticized for lacking normative practice. This dissertation addresses this criticism and assesses the EU’s normative policy coherence for development by examining norm implementation across development and trade policies. The guiding research questions are the following: Are the EU’s development and trade policies coherent in implementing norms; and if not, why are they incoherent? Normative policy coherence for development is defined as the coherent implementation of EU norms (democracy, freedom, gender equality, good governance, human rights, justice, liberty, non-discrimination, peace, rule of law, solidarity and sustainability) across development and non-development policies. A case study of EU development and trade policies addressing Vietnam is used to illustrate normative policy coherence for development in the transition phase from an EU-Vietnam donor-recipient relationship to a mutual trade relationship. This research contributes to existing literature on policy coherence for development, public policy, normative power Europe and regionalism through the in-depth analysis of normativity in EU policy implementation. It examines EU normative power in the EU-Vietnam relationship with particular focus on normative policy coherence and places this relationship in the context of EU-ASEAN relations. A qualitative methodology is utilized in this dissertation is supported by the case study design within which the congruence method has been used for the analysis. The data set is comprised of European Union policy documents and semi-structured interviews conducted by the author in Brussels, Belgium, and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which were coded and analyzed in Atlas.ti. The results show that normative policy coherence for development is undermined for several reasons. First, in policy implementation, norms are seen as a political matter and not as a development or trade matter. In contrast to policy guidelines, which are infused by normative commitments such as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, subsequent implementation stages do not correspond to this commitment. Second, policy networks, which could function as an opportunity for cooperation and coherence, are split ii by sector, which reinforces the divide between political, developmental and economic matters and in doing so they undermine normative policy coherence. Third, the EU’s relations with ASEAN do not directly undermine EU-Vietnam relations and, therefore, normative coherence in policies addressed at Vietnam is only indirectly affected by EU interests in ASEAN. Causes of normative incoherence in EU policy implementation can be linked to the institutional divide between political and technical matters, which are reinforced by sectoral divisions in the delegations abroad. [less ▲]

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See detailDeveloping oral language skills in language-minority children
Cordeiro Tomas, Rute Carina UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The aim of the research presented in this thesis is two-fold. Firstly, it explores the early oral language development in Portuguese-speaking language-minority children growing up in Luxembourg in the ... [more ▼]

The aim of the research presented in this thesis is two-fold. Firstly, it explores the early oral language development in Portuguese-speaking language-minority children growing up in Luxembourg in the kindergarten years. Secondly, it purports to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a 30-week oral language intervention programme designed to support the home language development in language-minority children, using a randomised controlled study design. The study specifically examines the hypothesis that skills acquired in a first language can transfer to a second language. The study adopts a longitudinal experimental design and includes a sample of 186 Portuguese-speaking kindergarten children in Luxembourg. Children were randomly allocated to a Portuguese oral language group (N = 93) or an active control group (N = 93). Participants were followed longitudinally and assessed on four occasions over a period of two years. The study also included two peer comparison groups: one classroom peer group from Luxembourg (N = 75) and one age-matched group of monolingual children from Portugal (N = 44). The first key research question addressed was: What are the early oral language skills in Portuguese and Luxembourgish within this group of bilingual language-minority children, and how do these skills develop during the kindergarten years? Results indicate that when compared to their peers in both languages, these children lagged behind. Despite manifesting language growth in Luxembourgish, the language-minority group continued to score below their classroom peers at the end of kindergarten. Findings further suggest that the home language skills of these children are not only less developed at school entry, but are also growing at a slower rate in contrast to the school language. Overall, results raise the possibility that Portuguese-speaking children in Luxembourg might be at risk of acquiring their second language at the expense of their first language. It is clear that these children are in need of targeted language support, not only in their school language but also their home language. The second major research question addressed was: Can an intervention focusing on language-minority children’s home language effectively support their home language development, and might this have knock on effects on second language learning? Results of the randomised controlled trial demonstrate that the newly developed oral language intervention MOLLY successfully improved children’s home language skills. Additionally, the results showed that supporting children in their home language facilitated second language learning. Effect sizes of important educational significance were found on both primary and secondary outcomes in Portuguese and in Luxembourgish. This thesis clearly reinforces that it is possible to effectively support language-minority children’s home language through rich and regular language support in a school setting, without hindering the development of the school language. Findings suggest that supporting children in their home language can facilitate second language learning. This study takes a step forward towards providing robust evidence on what the appropriate conditions are in supporting language-minority children’s language development. [less ▲]

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See detailA Dual-Grid Multiscale Approach to CFD-DEM Couplings for Multiphase Flow
Pozzetti, Gabriele UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

This thesis focuses on a novel dual-grid multiscale approach to CFD- DEM1 couplings, proposes its advantages in terms of numerical proper- ties and performance, and provides examples of engineering ... [more ▼]

This thesis focuses on a novel dual-grid multiscale approach to CFD- DEM1 couplings, proposes its advantages in terms of numerical proper- ties and performance, and provides examples of engineering applications that can benefit from it. In recent years, CFD-DEM couplings are be- coming a more and more adopted solution for the numerical simulation of particle-laden flows. In particular, couplings based on the volume av- eraging technique have become a standard for numerical simulations in chemical and process engineering. Furthermore, they are rapidly spread- ing to civil, geotechnical and mechanical applications due to their ability in dealing with arbitrarily complex mixtures of continuum and granular media. Despite the several advantages that these Eulerian-Lagrangian cou- plings provide, their rigorous application to complex scenarios is currently limited by two main factors. First, the computational traceability of the solutions can become problematic due to the lack of a general theory on the subject. In particular, grid-convergence studies for the solution of the continuous phases are often not feasible due to the averaging procedure that imposes limitations on the grid structure and refinement. Second, the parallel implementation of these numerical schemes holds important disadvantages in terms of memory consumption and inter-physics com- munication load. These disadvantages are significantly limiting the ex- tension of these approaches to large-scale scenarios. This thesis collects some of the most significant works published in the last years on a novel approach that allows solving the two above- mentioned problems, and, therefore, tackling more complex and expen- sive scenarios. I refer to this approach as dual-grid multiscale approach for CFD-DEM couplings. It consists in using two different computational grids, one for the coupling between continuum and discrete entities and one for the solution of the so-obtained continuum equations. The two grids, i.e. the two problems, are in this way resolved on two different scales. The first scale or “bulk” scale is chosen to optimize the averag- ing operation. At this length-scale, the discrete entities are considered as zero-dimensional, and interact with the fluid with local exchanges of momentum, mass, and energy. The second scale or “fluid-fine” scale is identified as the one at which a unique solution for the averaged equa- tions can be provided. In practice, this is chosen as the one at which the solution of the fluid equations becomes grid-independent. An inter-scale communication is adopted by interpolating fields from the fluid-fine scale to the bulk one and vice-versa. The theoretical description of the method is first provided with par- ticular reference to the DEM-VOF coupling. Even in its simplest version, the multiscale approach is shown to generate grid-convergent solutions and significantly higher accuracy than a standard CFD-DEM coupling. This shows how the new approach is able to overcome the first main limitation described above. Then, an optimized parallel implementation of the method is pro- posed to show how this multiscale approach can provide significant ben- efits also for what concerns the execution time. Technically, this is made possible by moving the communication cost of the coupling from the inter-physics communication that characterized the standard CFD-DEM couplings to an optimized inter-scale communication routine. This en- ables the method to overcome a major bottleneck of the parallel execution of CFD-DEM couplings and therefore the second main limitation of those schemes. Finally, the dual-grid multiscale method is applied to approach in- dustrially relevant problems that were till now out-of-reach for standard CFD-DEM couplings, proving how this technique can have direct real- case application and produce immediate benefits for practitioners willing to adopt it. [less ▲]

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See detailSemiautomatische Annotation von Orten in digitalisierten Altkarten
Höhn, Winfried UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Old maps are increasingly being digitised and included in digital libraries to provide access to these historically valuable documents to a wider audience. The need was identified to enrich the digital ... [more ▼]

Old maps are increasingly being digitised and included in digital libraries to provide access to these historically valuable documents to a wider audience. The need was identified to enrich the digital copies of the old maps with annotations that enable a quick search for relevant information and linking with other documents. Because such a manual annotation of old maps is a labour- and cost-intensive process and is therefore only carried out for particularly valuable documents, the large mass of old maps remains unexplored. With this motivation, the aim of this research project was to automatise to a great extent the process of object detection and annotation in the old maps. However, existing methods for automated information extraction from maps are designed for modern maps. They are usually limited to certain map types that have similar graphical characteristics. Alternatively there are tools for manual annotation of map data. Until now, annotation of old maps was only supported by tools that enabled manual extraction of map data and the digital storage of annotated information. The research objectives for this dissertation have been formulated based on the research frame given at the beginning of this work. The research objectives include automatic identification of place markers, automatic detection of text labels, their Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and an automatic linking with a modern map or a geographical database. In order to meet the research objectives, mainly methods of machine learning were used. Both classic machine learning methods and deep-learning-based methods have been extended to meet the requirements of the specific domain of old maps. Old maps of Luxembourg and the Franconian Circle were used as a data set. In order to find place markers automatically, a template matching variant was developed which is robust against interfering objects next to the place markers to be recognised. The method is also applicable in other areas with similar properties. Furthermore, both rule-based and statistical methods were tailored to the domain of the old maps with the purpose to find the position of the text labels. In order to make the identified texts readable, a new OCR engine was implemented that produces only a quarter of the character errors compared with a state-of-the-art OCR tool, while using the same training data. The georeferencing was examined for two types of map pairs: an old and a modern map, and two old maps. It was found that automatic georeferencing between two old maps can not only be used to find errors in manual annotations, but can also provide new historical insights, such as small changes in the copper plates from which the maps were printed (e.g. adding a small number of places that is not documented anywhere else). A referencing and annotation tool has been implemented to collect training and test data. This tool can also be used to test the automations and to correct automatically collected data. Overall, the present work makes a contribution in the areas of object recognition in graphics, scene text detection, OCR and georeferencing. It is shown which effort is needed to make individual parts or the entire area of old maps automatically readable and where the current limits of the automation are. Finally, this research shows the huge potential and the impact of such digital tools in the entire area of digital humanities. [less ▲]

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See detailThe New Generation of Bilateral Free Trade Agreements - A New Legal Instrument of the Union’s External Action
Silvereke, Siri Erica UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The NGFTAs are considered as new legal instruments of the EU external action as they refer to a new generation of free trade agreements that go further in integration, beyond the simple elimination of ... [more ▼]

The NGFTAs are considered as new legal instruments of the EU external action as they refer to a new generation of free trade agreements that go further in integration, beyond the simple elimination of import tariffs and other trade barriers while also addressing non-trade related measures. The research examines the significance and the implication of the NGFTAs as a new legal instrument by more closely considering the limits of the attributed competences and how the reformed ISDS could affect the autonomy of the EU. Analysing these instruments has shown the need to establish a clear balance between the protection of the autonomous legal order, and at the same time maintaining the EU’s objective of trade liberalization. The dispute settlement mechanism and its relation to the EU legal order and international courts and tribunals have become of particular importance. This is due to the remaining possibility that the ICS may interfere with the EU’s exclusive competence to preserve the system of vertical allocation of competence. The division of responsibility between the EU and its Member States seems to be the key to preserve the autonomy of the EU legal order, in relation to the issues of competence. An appropriate balance may be seen through further emphasizing the duty of sincere cooperation, in particular in relation to the ICS. Moreover, the division of responsibility plays a significant role between the EU and its Member States and seems to be the key role to preserve the autonomy of the EU legal order. The anticipated Opinion 1/17, which provide for further guidance will have a decisive impact on the NGFTAs, concerning the future compliance with EU law in relation to both compatibility and design. [less ▲]

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See detailResearch governance through public funding instruments: Institutional change of educational research in the European Union and England, 1984-2014
Marques, Marcelo UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Supranational and national public research funding instruments have been recognizing considerable attention from the political agenda in the last decades. Either as forms to target specific themes and ... [more ▼]

Supranational and national public research funding instruments have been recognizing considerable attention from the political agenda in the last decades. Either as forms to target specific themes and priorities for disciplinary fields or to better allocate public funding, they are essential instruments in the contemporary research governance. While most research literature has been focused on studying either the political choice related to the implementation and evolution of a specific research funding instrument or the impact of single forms on the behavior of organizations and individuals, less attention has been paid to the overall funding arrangements that have been shaping, not only higher education and research systems, but also disciplinary fields, as for the case of educational research. Using a multilevel standpoint, I study the creation and development of three of the most critical contemporary public research funding instruments in two different settings, the European Union and England, and their impact in the field of European and English educational research. At the European Union level, I analyze the creation and evolution of the European's Union Framework Programme (EUFP) (1984-2013), in particular from the moment educational research started to be funded (1994), and look at its impact in the cognitive development and structural organization of the European educational research. At the English level, I analyze the creation and evolution of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) (2000-2011) and the Research Assessment Exercise/Research Excellence Framework (RAE/REF) (1986-2014) and look at their impact in the political, disciplinary and organizational levels of educational research. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is twofold: to analyze the creation and evolution of the supranational and national public research funding instruments, directly or indirectly targeted to the field of educational research, and to analyze the impact of the research funding instruments at the political, disciplinary and organizational levels of European and English educational research. Due to the continued institutionalization of these public research funding instruments I expect to find a gradual transformative change in educational research. Theoretically anchored in the new-institutional thinking – historical, sociological and Scandinavian institutionalism - and in the political sociology of policy instruments and instrumentation approach, I conceptualize public research funding instruments as institutions with cultural-cognitive (ideas), normative (norms and values), and regulative (formal and informal rules) dimensions. Moreover, I apply the most recent contributions of the new-institutional thinking to the field of higher education and explore the concepts of nested organizational fields and the concept of the university as a strategic actor in order to understand the way research organizations engage and react to public research funding instruments. Methodologically, I use a mixed-method sequential explanatory research design. The first phase of the study aimed to understand the creation and development of the three funding instruments, taking into consideration the available data related to the instrument itself and the data related to educational research. In order to do this, I have used both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitatively, I analyzed policy documents related to the EUFP, TLRP and RAE/REF and developed a content analysis from a sample of EUFP funded research projects for the field of educational research (N=99) and from a sample of TLRP funded research projects (N=54), in order to examine the creation and development of the funding instruments and their impact ar the European and English disciplinary level. Quantitatively, I use social network analysis and applied centrality measures to the participating research organizations in the European educational research (N=500) to explore the interconnections between research organizations in their regional, national, and organizational diversity across Europe. Furthermore, I locate the multidisciplinary field of educational research in the RAE/REF and analyze the submission behavior (staff, outputs, funding) of Schools of Education over time (N=239). The second phase of the study was dedicated to interviewing 22 experts in the field of English educational research. Overall, the results show a gradual transformative change in the cultural-cognitive and normative dimensions (EUFP, TLRP, RAE/REF), while maintaining continuous stability (EUFP, TLRP) in the regulative dimension of the public research funding instruments. In specific, I show how the ideas of knowledge-society, internationalization, and Europeanization (EUFP), evidence-based policy and practice (TLRP), and quality, excellence and impact (RAE/REF) have been gradually transforming the development of the research funding instruments. Additionally, I show how the funding instruments have enacted the norms and values of international collaboration, competition, relevance, capacity, usefulness, evaluation, and performativity to the field of European and English educational research. Because research funding instruments are incentive-based forms, their regulative and legislative basis is rather weak, displaying signs of continuous stability, except for the RAE/REF due to its continuous formalization, standardization, transparency, and growing concentration of funding policy, framed as a robust research evaluation system. When exploring the effects of the public research funding instruments I delve into the disciplinary and organizational levels to find a gradual transformative institutional change in the field of educational research mediated by both intended and unintended consequences of the policy instruments. At the European level, I find a strong relationship between the themes and priorities of the EUFP and the funded research projects in educational research, showing the role of the EUFP in the creation of the broader political project of the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area. Moreover, the social network analysis shows that while the size of the countries helps to explain the number of research organizations that participate in the EUFP, the capacity to become central and influential is linked connected to organizational factors. Indeed, universities from medium and small countries are relatively more influential, albeit with stratification manifest across the EUFPs. Exploring the position of the English Schools of Education, while England is the country with the largest number of participating research organizations, almost none of them are central or influential in the network, showing the role of England as an exporter of internationalization. At the English level, I show how the disciplinary dynamics of educational research interact and mediate the impact of the TLRP. For the case of the RAE/REF, I find decreases in the number of academic staff whose research was submitted for peer review assessment; the research article as the preferred publication format, and the rise of quantitative analysis and applied research. The policy instrument invoked a highly strategic behavior amongst the Schools of Education, with such reactivity demonstrated (1) by the increasing submission selectivity in the number of staff whose publications were submitted for peer review as a form of reverse engineering, and (2) by the rise of the research article as the preferred output as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In conclusion, I discuss how the institutionalization of the public research funding instruments represent a case of epistemic governance; contribute to the Matthew effect in science; confer actorhood to research organizations and trigger highly strategic forms of behavior and unintended consequences, resulting in a gradual transformative change of European and English educational research. Because they interact and are mediated by different levels, the study shows the multi-composite character of educational research governance. [less ▲]

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See detailModel and parameter identification through Bayesian inference in solid mechanics
Rappel, Hussein UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Predicting the behaviour of various engineering systems is commonly performed using mathematical models. These mathematical models include application-specific parameters that must be identified from ... [more ▼]

Predicting the behaviour of various engineering systems is commonly performed using mathematical models. These mathematical models include application-specific parameters that must be identified from measured data. The identification of model parameters usually comes with uncertainties due to model simplifications and errors in the experimental measurements. Quantifying these uncertainties can effectively improve the predictions as well as the performance of the engineering systems. Bayesian inference provides a probabilistic framework for quantifying these uncertainties in parameter identification problems. In a Bayesian framework, the user's initial knowledge, which is represented by a probability distribution, is updated by measurement data through Bayes' theorem. In the first two chapters of this thesis, Bayesian inference is developed for the identification of material parameters in elastoplasticity and viscoelasticity. The effect of the user's prior knowledge is systematically studied with respect to the number of measurements available. In addition, the influence of different types of experiments on the uncertainty is studied. Since all mathematical models are simplifications of reality, uncertainties of the model itself may also be incorporated. The third chapter of this thesis presents a Bayesian framework for parameter identification in elastoplasticity in which not only the uncertainty of the experimental output is included (i.e. stress measurements), but also the uncertainty of the model and the uncertainty of the experimental input (i.e. strain). Three different formulations for describing the model uncertainty are considered: (1) a random variable which is taken from a normal distribution with constant parameters, (2) a random variable which is taken from a normal distribution with an input-dependent mean, and (3) a Gaussian random process with a stationary covariance function. In the fourth chapter of this thesis, a Bayesian scheme is proposed to identify material parameter distributions, instead of material parameters. The application in this chapter are random fibre networks, in which the set of material parameters of each fibre is assumed to be a realisation from a material parameter distribution. The fibres behave either elastoplastically or in a perfectly brittle manner. The goal of the identification scheme is to avoid the experimentally demanding task of testing hundreds of constituents. Instead, only 20 fibres are considered. In addition to their material randomness, the macroscale behaviours of these fibre networks are also governed by their geometrical randomness. Another question aimed to be answered in this chapter is therefore is `how precise the material randomness needs to be identified, if the geometrical randomness will also influence the macroscale behaviour of these discrete networks'. [less ▲]

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See detailSelf-Assessment in Elementary School with a Tablet-Computer-Based Tool: A Chance for Fairer Educational Assessment?
Villanyi, Denise UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Student self-assessment (SSA) is beneficial for students’ learning and achievement through processes of self-regulation. Furthermore, SSA is a valuable feedback for the teachers on students’ perceptions ... [more ▼]

Student self-assessment (SSA) is beneficial for students’ learning and achievement through processes of self-regulation. Furthermore, SSA is a valuable feedback for the teachers on students’ perceptions of their competencies. SSA can complete teachers’ view on and judgment about the students’ competencies and it can help teachers to adapt teaching and learning activities to better meet the needs of the students. Knowing that teachers’ assessments can be biased regarding students’ ethnic or immigration background, students’ SAs might be an important complementary source of information that increases fairness in educational assessment. Despite its proven benefits, the implementation of self-assessment (SA) in elementary school classrooms is limited, most probably due to the skepticism towards learners’ SA accuracy at all ages, but even more so when students are younger. The objective of the present dissertation was to capture students’ SAs of key academic competencies with an innovative tool—a tablet-computer-based SA-tool—, and to make it visible to teachers by giving them feedback on their students’ SAs. The dissertation is based on three empirical studies. In the first study, we investigated, whether third- and fourth-graders have the ability to assess key academic competencies (mathematics, German reading comprehension) with acceptable accuracy, when provided with an innovative tablet-computer-based tool that was designed respecting the requirements that facilitate SA for that age group. The second study concentrated on the domain of mathematics. We investigated how mathematics self-efficacy, the construct measured with the tool, relates to other competence beliefs such as mathematics self-concept and general academic self-concept and covariates (standardized tests in mathematics, reading comprehension, listening, comprehension; general academic and mathematics interest; general academic and mathematics anxiety; and gender). In the third study, we investigated whether feedbacks on students’ SAs and achievement test results (from Luxembourg school monitoring) are valuable information for teachers that they would triangulate with their own assessments. We hypothesized that the information captured via SSA and achievement test would trigger critical reflection in teachers, and offer them feedback on the appropriateness of their assessments (unbiased versus biased treatment) and thus make educational assessment fairer. The findings of the three studies contribute to answer the questions of how SA can be implemented in the classroom (Grades 3 and 4) in a way that it becomes meaningful to students and teachers, and whether SSA in the classroom is a chance for fairer educational assessment. Based on the results of Studies 1 and 2, we conclude that with an appropriate SA-tool, displaying self-efficacy items on task level on tablet-computer, third- and fourth-graders were able to assess key academic competencies with acceptable accuracy and thus to give valuable information to the teachers. Based on the results of Study 3, we conclude that teachers were able to triangulate the information from students’ SAs with their own assessments and with external achievement test results. Indeed, SSA in the classroom can be a chance for fairer educational assessment. [less ▲]

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See detailEngineering Smart Software Services for Intelligent Pervasive Systems
Sanchez Guinea, Alejandro UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Pervasive computing systems, envisioned as systems that blend with the physical environment to enhance the quality of life of its users, are rapidly becoming a not so distant reality. However, many ... [more ▼]

Pervasive computing systems, envisioned as systems that blend with the physical environment to enhance the quality of life of its users, are rapidly becoming a not so distant reality. However, many challenges must be addressed before realizing the goal of having such computing systems as part of our everyday life. One such challenge is related to the problem of how to develop in a systematic way the software that lies behind pervasive systems, operating them and allowing them to intelligently adapt both to users' changing needs and to variations in the environment. In spite of the important strides done in recent years concerning the engineering of software that places the actual, immediate needs and preferences of users in the center of attention, to the best of our knowledge no work has been devoted to the study of the engineering process for building software for pervasive systems. In this dissertation we focus on the engineering process to build smart software services for pervasive systems. Specifically, we first introduce as our first major contribution a model for the systematic construction of software for pervasive systems, which has been derived using analytical, evidence-based, and empirical methodologies. Then, on the basis of the proposed model, we investigate two essential mechanisms that provide support for the engineering of value-added software services for smart environments, namely the learning of users' daily routines and the continuous identification of users. For the case of learning users' daily routines, we propose what is our second main contribution: a novel approach that discovers periodic-frequent routines in event data from sensors and smart devices deployed at home. For the continuous identification of users we propose what is our third major contribution: a novel approach based on behavioral biometrics which is able to recognize identities without requiring any specific gesture, action, or activity from the users. The two approaches proposed have been extensively evaluated through studies in the lab, based on synthetic data, and in the wild, showing that they can be effectively applied to different scenarios and environments. In sum, the engineering model proposed in this dissertation is expected to serve as a basis to further the research and development efforts in key aspects that are necessary to build value-added smart software services that bring pervasive systems closer to the way they have been envisioned. Furthermore, the approaches proposed for learning users' daily routines and recognizing users' identities in smart environments are aimed at contributing to the investigation and development of the data analytics technology necessary for the smart adaptation and evolution of the software in pervasive systems to users' needs. [less ▲]

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See detailSystems Biology Approaches for Identification of Molecular Mechanisms in Brain Disorders
Androsova, Ganna UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

One out of four people are affected by a brain disorder at some stage in their life. Depending on the symptoms and the underlying molecular mechanisms, brain disorders can be classified into neurological ... [more ▼]

One out of four people are affected by a brain disorder at some stage in their life. Depending on the symptoms and the underlying molecular mechanisms, brain disorders can be classified into neurological and cognitive disorders. Complex disorders typically have a multifactorial pathogenesis. Epilepsy and postoperative delirium (POD) exemplifying neurological and cognitive disorders are no exception. Research efforts contributed to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of these diseases by discovering associations between clinical and genomic information and disease phenotypes. These findings, although necessary, are not sufficient to reconstruct the complete map of system-level interactions. To achieve a system-level understanding of a biological system, one can integrate diverse data sources by a network-based approach. Network analysis methods characterise interactions within and between molecular systems and can identify candidate biomarkers in various biological contexts. Specifically, correlation networks can reveal condition-dependent molecular patterns whose functional enrichment points to the altered molecular mechanisms of the phenotype. A molecular signature of a phenotype can be determined by machine learning algorithms for supervised classification as a set of molecules accurately discriminating between disease and healthy state. The primary aim of this dissertation is to identify altered biological pathways and functionally relevant molecules of epileptogenesis and postoperative delirium. This cumulative dissertation is composed of six chapters. Chapter 1provides the background information on brain disorders and the systems biology methods to study their molecular mechanisms. Chapter 2 was motivated by the fact that current anti-epilepsy treatments focus on minimisation of the symptoms and epileptic seizures, while no definitive cure exists. The understanding of molecular events triggering the development of epilepsy (also called epileptogenesis) can yield therapies halting the onset of epilepsy. We identified proteomic alterations in the animal model of epileptogenesis by a network-based method and validated our results by external data set and immunohistochemical staining. The functional annotation of molecular expression patterns revealed biological pathways not yet described in the context of epileptogenesis. Next, we identified the gap in a comparative analysis of available antiepileptic drugs for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy due to hippocampal sclerosis. Chapter 3 retrospectively compares retention, efficacy and tolerability of antiepileptic drugs in the large epilepsy pharmacogenomics database. Chapter 4 is focused on the identification of molecular alterations in postoperative delirium. Overlaying postmortem brain expression data with locations of functional networks disturbed in POD, we identified several gene expression patterns with relevant biological enrichment. Moreover, same biological functions were altered in the blood of POD patients. Previously described POD markers such as acetylcholinesterase, alpha-synuclein and protein C appeared in the identified clusters. In Chapter 5, I focused on the identification of a molecular signature discriminating POD patients before they undergo surgery. Having ranked preoperative expression levels of mRNAs and miRNAs by their ability to detect patients with POD, I identified a set of discriminatory features that achieved high accuracy, sensitivity and specificity in the training set. The trained model had a good generalisability on the unseen data set but its performance decreased on the test set not matched by age and gender. The final Chapter 6 summarises the main outcomes of the presented studies and concludes with an outlook. [less ▲]

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See detailStandardisierte unternehmensübergreifende Wertstrommethode (StreaM)
Oberhausen, Christof UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

In the course of globalization, complex corporate networks arise in which diverse players are involved in the value-added process. Particularly at the interfaces of the value chain, there are challenges ... [more ▼]

In the course of globalization, complex corporate networks arise in which diverse players are involved in the value-added process. Particularly at the interfaces of the value chain, there are challenges in terms of communication and cooperation, since so far no uniform procedure for the visualization, analysis and continuous improvement of product and information flows is used. These difficulties occur both within organizations and especially across company boundaries. In particular, no internationally recognized value stream standard exists at present, which is inter alia a result of a low cooperativeness of organizations due to a lack of trust, inadequate knowledge and insufficient incentives. The inconsistent use of Value Stream Management (VSM) affects many economic sectors worldwide. These inconsistent VSM approaches lead to inefficiencies, such as rework and coordination difficulties in the case of value stream audits, which represent an avoidable waste of time, natural and financial resources. In the scientific literature, a large number of fundamental VSM approaches, modifications and further developments are available that serve as a basis for the present work. The existing VSM approaches include provisions, e.g. in terms of symbols, data boxes, associated process variables and their calculation, which are each extensive, diverse and in some cases process-specific. In contrast, complex, globally distributed value chain structures require a holistic approach for the modeling of value streams. In the context of this dissertation, a VSM draft standard will be generated by means of a comparison of existing VSM approaches. Based on four different value stream levels, a multi-stage approach for the visualization, analysis and continuous improvement of cross-company product and information flows will be developed. The present thesis thus provides the methodological basis on the way towards an internationally recognized VSM standard and demonstrates in addition the potential of efficient and targeted application of VSM in value networks. On the one hand, standardizing the VSM method will enable an improved communication and cooperation along value chains in different economic sectors. On the other hand, the holistic approach helps to identify, show and implement improvement measures across company borders and ultimately leads to a reduction or ideally to the elimination of waste from an end customer perspective. The developed approach allows organizations worldwide to assess internal as well as cross-company value streams in a structured manner, to design them flexibly and to implement them effectively in practice. [less ▲]

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See detailReal-time Model Predictive Control for Aerial Manipulation
Dentler, Jan Eric UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The rapid development in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is driven by new applications in agriculture, logistics, inspection and smart manufacturing. The future keys in these domains are the ... [more ▼]

The rapid development in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is driven by new applications in agriculture, logistics, inspection and smart manufacturing. The future keys in these domains are the abilities to autonomously interact with the environment and with other robotic systems. This thesis is providing control engineering solutions to contribute to these key capabilities. The first step of this thesis is to develop an understanding of the dynamic behavior of UAVs. For this purpose, dynamic and kinematic models are presented to describe a UAV's motion. This includes a kinematic model which is suitable for off-the-shelf UAVs and combines full 360° heading operation with a low computational complexity. The presented models are subsequently used to develop a nonlinear model predictive control NMPC strategy. In this context, the performance of several NMPC solvers and inequality constraint handling techniques is evaluated. The real-time capability and NMPC performance are validated with real AR.Drone 2.0 and DJI M100 quadrotors. This includes collision avoidance and advanced tracking scenarios. The design work-flow for the related control objectives and constraints is presented accordingly. As a next step, this UAV NMPC strategy is extended for a UAV with attached robotic arm. For this purpose, the forward kinematics of the robotic arm are developed and combined with the kinematic model of the UAV. The resulting NMPC strategy is validated in a grasping scenario with a real aerial manipulator. The final step of this thesis is the NMPC of cooperating UAVs. The computational complexity of such scenarios conflicts directly with the fast UAV dynamics. In addition, control objectives and system topologies can dynamically change. To address these challenges, this thesis presents the DENMPC software framework. DENMPC provides a computationally efficient central NMPC strategy that allows changing the control scenario at runtime. This is finally stated in the control of a real cooperative aerial manipulation scenario. [less ▲]

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See detailA decision support system for energy saving in Waste Water Treatment Plants
Torregrossa, Dario UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs) are complex facilities, in which an efficient energy management can produce relevant benefits for the environment and the economy. Today, big data can be used for a ... [more ▼]

Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs) are complex facilities, in which an efficient energy management can produce relevant benefits for the environment and the economy. Today, big data can be used for a more efficient plant management, enabling high-frequency assessment and ultimately a more efficient use of resources. In order to achieve this, a computer-based support is necessary to analyse the enormous amount of data that WWTP sensors can produce. When this PhD project started, the literature review showed that, in the WWTP domain, the few available decision support systems (DSSs) were promising but still with large room for improvements; in fact, these tools were plant-specific, focussed mainly on process parameters and (most of them) working with low-frequency aggregated data (yearly data). This thesis instead proposes a cooperative decision support system called Shared Knowledge Decision Support System (SK-DSS). SK-DSS is plant generic, i.e. able to simultaneously work with many WWTPs and based on key performance indicators. SK-DSS analyses the processes occurring in the plants and provide case-based solutions. Moreover, this DSS provides a platform to enable the plant managers to exchange information and cooperate. This thesis proposes the model of SK-DSS, a web-application, and applications to improve the energy performance of pump, blowers and biogas. [less ▲]

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See detailCOMPUTATIONAL PREDICTION OF BIOCHEMICAL COMPENSATORY MECHANISMS IN SUBJECTS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING PARKINSON’S DISEASE.
El Assal, Diana Charles UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterised by the degeneration of substantia nigra pars compacta dopaminergic neurons. These neurons have a highly complex axonal arborisation and a high energy demand, so ... [more ▼]

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterised by the degeneration of substantia nigra pars compacta dopaminergic neurons. These neurons have a highly complex axonal arborisation and a high energy demand, so any reduction in ATP synthesis could lead to an imbalance between demand and supply, thereby impeding normal neuronal bioenergetic requirements. The notion of energy metabolism inevitably implicates mitochondria, the cells’ main powerhouses, linking glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation. In the brain, there are two types of mitochondria, with synaptic mitochondria localised to neuronal synapses and somal mitochondria localised to glial or neuronal somata. It has long been known that synaptic and somal mitochondria differ in their localisation, substrate utilisation, and enzymatic activities. For example, after biogenesis in and transport from the soma, synaptic mitochondria become highly dependent upon oxidative phosphorylation and exhibit increased vulnerability to dysfunction in PD, as opposed to somal mitochondria. Since the description of the disease by the London apothecary James Parkinson in 1817 and after more than two hundred years of descriptive research, we envisaged that quantitative computational modelling of PD will allow a cumulative, formal synthesis of the results of this research to occur. Clearly not all at-risk subjects actually develop PD, the open question is why? Are there biochemical compensatory mechanisms that protect some at-risk individuals from developing PD? We addressed this question using constraint-based computational modelling of dopaminergic neuronal metabolism, because we hypothesised that the existence of metabolic compensatory mechanisms can be predicted using comprehensive models of healthy, albeit at risk, and diseased dopaminergic neurons. A systems biochemistry approach was applied to identify the metabolic pathways used by neural models for energy generation. The mitochondrial component of an existing manual reconstruction of human metabolism (Recon 3D) was extended with manual curation of the biochemical literature and specialised using omics data from PD patients and controls, to generate reconstructions of synaptic, somal, and astrocytic metabolism. Following the imposition of experimentally-derived constraints, these reconstructions were converted into stoichiometrically- and flux-consistent constraint-based computational models. These models predict that PD is accompanied by a failure of the nigrostriatal glycolytic pathway and that in silico perturbations to non-trivial reaction rates may be able to rescue this bioenergetic phenotype. This is consistent with independent experimental reports where the enhancement of glycolysis was shown to provide neuroprotection in PD. This is the first application of biochemical network modelling used for the prediction of novel putative metabolic targets: a step closer towards the treatment of idiopathic PD. [less ▲]

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See detailAdvanced Symbol-level Precoding Schemes for Interference Exploitation in Multi-antenna Multi-user Wireless Communications
Spano, Danilo UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The utilization of multi-antenna transmitters relying on full frequency reuse has proven to be an effective strategy towards fulfilling the constantly increasing throughput requirements of wireless ... [more ▼]

The utilization of multi-antenna transmitters relying on full frequency reuse has proven to be an effective strategy towards fulfilling the constantly increasing throughput requirements of wireless communication systems. As a consequence, in the last two decades precoding has been a prolific research area, due to its ability to handle the interference arising among simultaneous transmissions addressed to different co-channel users. The conventional precoding strategies aim at mitigating the multi-user interference (MUI) by exploiting the knowledge of the channel state information (CSI). More recently, novel approaches have been proposed where the aim is not to eliminate the interference, but rather to control it so as to achieve a constructive interference effect at each receiver. In these schemes, referred to as symbol-level precoding (SLP), the data information (data symbols) is used together with the CSI in the precoding design, which can be addressed following several optimization strategies. In the context of SLP, the work carried out in this thesis is mainly focused on developing more advanced optimization strategies suitable to non-linear systems, where the per-antenna high-power amplifiers introduce an amplitude and phase distortion on the transmitted signals. More specifically, the main objective is to exploit the potential of SLP not only to achieve the constructive interference at the receivers, but also to control the per-antenna instantaneous transmit power, improving the power dynamics of the transmitted waveforms. In fact, a reduction of the power variation of the signals, both in the spatial dimension (across the different antennas) and in the temporal dimension, is particularly important for mitigating the non-linear effects. After a detailed review of the state of the art of SLP, the first part of the thesis is focused on improving the power dynamics of the transmitted signals in the spatial dimension, by reducing the instantaneous power imbalances across the different antennas. First, a SLP per-antenna power minimization scheme is presented, followed by a related max-min fair formulation with per-antenna power constraints. These approaches allow to reduce the power peaks of the signals across the antennas. Next, more advanced SLP schemes are formulated and solved, with the objective of further improving the spatial dynamics of the signals. Specifically, a first approach performs a peak power minimization under a lower bound constraint on the per-antenna transmit power, while a second strategy minimizes the spatial peak-to-average power ratio. The second part of this thesis is devoted to developing a novel SLP method, referred to as spatio-temporal SLP, where the temporal variation of the transmit power is also considered in the SLP optimization. This new model allows to minimize the peak-to-average power ratio of the transmitted waveforms both in the spatial and in the temporal dimensions, thus further improving the robustness of the signals to non-linear effects. Then, this thesis takes one step further, by exploiting the developed spatio-temporal SLP model in a different context. In particular, a spatio-temporal SLP scheme is proposed which enables faster-than-Nyquist (FTN) signaling over multi-user systems, by constructively handling at the transmitter side not only the MUI but also the inter-symbol interference (ISI). This strategy allows to benefit from the increased throughput provided by FTN signaling without imposing additional complexity at the user terminals. Extensive numerical results are presented throughout the thesis, in order to assess the performance of the proposed schemes with respect to the state of the art in SLP. The thesis concludes summarizing the main research findings and identifying the open problems, which will constitute the basis for the future work. [less ▲]

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See detailDisambiguation of Researcher Careers: Shifting the Perspective from Documents to Authors
Doherr, Thorsten UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The thesis describes an algorithm that disambiguates the namespaces of inventors and researchers, spawned by their patents and publications, into career paths. A probabilistic theory to assess the risk of ... [more ▼]

The thesis describes an algorithm that disambiguates the namespaces of inventors and researchers, spawned by their patents and publications, into career paths. A probabilistic theory to assess the risk of erroneously linking documents of namesakes, different individuals with a mutual name, into one career bypasses the need for training datasets, thereby avoiding a namesake bias caused by the inherent underestimation of namesakes in training/benchmark data. The economic relevance of identified careers is illustrated by two applications. The first one outlines the impact of inter-regional inventor mobility in Italy on the total factor productivity of the sending and receiving regions. We show that an inflow of high skilled labor has a significant positive effect on TFP, while outflow decreases it. We further separate mobility in firm-internal relocation and job switches to find a more pronounced effect for the latter mobility. The second application observes the reaction of German university researchers to an exogenous change in federal law pertaining the property rights of their inventions equivalent to the Bayh Dole Act. Being able to trace their careers along with the careers of an unaffected control group allows us to evaluate the efficacy of technology transfer offices replacing the former informal activities of the university professors in regard of academic entrepreneurship. We find that an overall decrease of university patenting neutralizes any institutionalized efforts of spurring entrepreneurship at the expense of informal faculty-firm networks as channels for knowledge transfer. [less ▲]

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See detailRisk Monitoring and Intrusion Detection for Industrial Control Systems
Muller, Steve UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure such as electricity, gas, and water distribution, or power plants, are more and more considered to be a relevant and realistic threat to the European society ... [more ▼]

Cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure such as electricity, gas, and water distribution, or power plants, are more and more considered to be a relevant and realistic threat to the European society. Whereas mature solutions like anti-malware applications, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and even intrusion prevention or self-healing systems have been designed for classic computer systems, these techniques have only been partially adapted to the world of Industrial Control Systems (ICS). As a consequence, organisations and nations fall back upon risk management to understand the risks that they are facing. Today's trend is to combine risk management with real-time monitoring to enable prompt reactions in case of attacks. This thesis aims at providing techniques that assist security managers in migrating from a static risk analysis to a real-time and dynamic risk monitoring platform. Risk monitoring encompasses three steps, each being addressed in detail in this thesis: the collection of risk-related information, the reporting of security events, and finally the inclusion of this real-time information into a risk analysis. The first step consists in designing agents that detect incidents in the system. In this thesis, an intrusion detection system is developed to this end, which focuses on an advanced persistent threat (APT) that particularly targets critical infrastructures. The second step copes with the translation of the obtained technical information in more abstract notions of risk, which can then be used in the context of a risk analysis. In the final step, the information collected from the various sources is correlated so as to obtain the risk faced by the entire system. Since industrial environments are characterised by many interdependencies, a dependency model is elaborated which takes dependencies into account when the risk is estimated. [less ▲]

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See detailWorkplace bullying: Validation of a measurement and the role of competition, passive avoidant leadership style, psychological contract violation and basic need frustration.
Sischka, Philipp UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Workplace bullying, mobbing or harassment describe a situation where an employee is the target of systematic mistreatment by other organizational members (i.e., colleagues, supervisors, subordinates) that ... [more ▼]

Workplace bullying, mobbing or harassment describe a situation where an employee is the target of systematic mistreatment by other organizational members (i.e., colleagues, supervisors, subordinates) that may cause severe social, psychological and psychosomatic problems in the targeted employee. Since the appearance of the book “The harassed worker” by Brodsky (1976) and initial studies by Heinz Leymann (1986, 1990), workplace bullying research has developed into a huge and still massively growing research area that is conducted all over the globe. Especially, when related concepts are considered, a vast amount of studies have researched prevalence, risk factors, consequences, and, very recently, psychological mechanisms of workplace bullying exposure. A literature review revealed that existing workplace bullying exposure self-report inventories exhibit some weaknesses. Therefore, the first study (Chapter 2) aimed to develop a new short scale, the Luxembourg Workplace Mobbing Scale (LWMS) in three different language versions (i.e., Luxembourgish, French, German). Furthermore, it investigated the psychometric properties and the validity of this scale and examined if the three language versions exhibit measurement invariance. The LWMS revealed good psychometric properties in terms of its internal consistency and its factor structure. Furthermore, metric and partial scalar invariance across the three language versions could be established. Initial validation tests revealed high criterion validity of the LWMS. In line with recent workplace bullying exposure research, the LWMS was meaningfully linked with other working factors and measures of psychological health. The second study (Chapter 3) aimed to test the LWMS’s factor structure and measurement invariance across possible risk groups of bullying exposure (i.e., gender, age, and occupational groups). Moreover, based on recent theories and findings on workplace bullying the study aimed to further elucidate the LWMS’s nomological net with relevant psychological (i.e., psychological well-being, work engagement, sleeping hours, suicidal thoughts) and physiological health measures (i.e., physiological health problems, alcohol and smoking consumption, body mass index) as well as with important organizational criteria (i.e., work performance, turnover intention, absenteeism) and with self-labeling victim status. Evaluation of different measurement invariance models confirm metric and (partial) scalar invariance across all compared groups. Neither age, gender, nor the most frequent areas of occupation in Luxembourg represent important risk factors for workplace bullying exposure. Regarding criterion validity, with the exceptions of alcohol and smoking consumption, all proposed psychological and physiological health measures as well as organizational criteria are meaningfully associated with the LWMS. In summary, the LWMS is especially useful, when the identification of workplace bullying exposure risk groups or cross-cultural research is of concern. The third study (Chapter 4) aimed to test specific organizational risk factors of the occurrence of workplace bullying. Specifically, competition and passive avoidant leadership style were tested as risk factors of workplace bullying (exposure and perpetration) assessed with two assessment methods (behavioral experience and self-labeling method). Consistent with theoretical reasoning and prior research, results demonstrated that competition as well as passive avoidant leadership style are important risk factors of workplace bullying exposure. Moreover, results showed that the same effects showed up for perpetration. Even more interesting, passive avoidant leadership style acted as a moderator on the effect of competition on workplace bullying exposure. In line with theory, competition is stronger related to workplace bullying exposure, when passive avoidant leadership is high. Thus, passive avoidant leadership style can be considered a disruptive factor reinforcing the negative association with competition. Regarding workplace bullying perpetration the same moderation effect was only found for the self-labeled assessment method. The fourth study (Chapter 5) aimed to identify different psychological mechanisms (i.e., psychological contract violation and frustration of basic needs) that link being target of workplace bullying and health, attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. Furthermore, their relative impact and importance on different outcomes were highlighted. Psychological contract violation was an important mediator for decreased job satisfaction and higher turnover intentions, whereas frustration of autonomy mediated the effect between workplace bullying exposure and increased levels of burnout, frustration of competence mediated the effect of bullying exposure on decreased work performance and frustration of relatedness was strongly associated with decreased well-being and vigor. Results showed that feelings of psychological contract violation and frustration of basic needs accounted for unique variation in many outcome variables, pointing to the individual contribution of both psychological mechanisms. The present thesis deepens our understanding of the organizational circumstances under which workplace bullying is more likely and the psychological mechanisms that link the bullying exposure with several outcomes. These results can guide possible prevention and intervention strategies. [less ▲]

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See detailEssays on M&As and Innovation
Fernandez de Arroyabe Arranz, Marta UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

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See detailA multifold approach to address the security issues of stateful forwarding mechanisms in Information-Centric Networks.
Signorello, Salvatore UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Today's Internet dominant usage trends motivate research on more content-oriented future network architectures. Among the emerging future Internet proposals, the promising Information-Centric Networking ... [more ▼]

Today's Internet dominant usage trends motivate research on more content-oriented future network architectures. Among the emerging future Internet proposals, the promising Information-Centric Networking (ICN) research paradigm aims to redesign the Internet's core protocols to promote a shift in focus from hosts to contents. Among the ICN architectures, the Named-Data Networking (NDN) envisions users' named content requests to be forwarded and recorded by their names in routers along the path from one consumer to 1-or-many sources. The Pending Interest Table (PIT) is the NDN's data-plane component which temporarily records forwarded content requests in routers. On one hand, the PIT stateful mechanism enables properties like requests aggregation, multicast responses delivery and native hop-by-hop control flow. On the other hand, the PIT stateful forwarding behavior can be easily abused by malicious users to mount disruptive distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), named Interest Flooding Attacks (IFAs). In IFAs, loosely coordinated botnets flood the network with a large amount of hard to satisfy requests with the aim to overload both the network infrastructure and the content producers. Countermeasures against IFA have been proposed since the early attack discovery. However, a fair understanding of the defense mechanisms' real efficacy is missing since those have been tested under simplistic assumptions about the evaluation scenarios. Thus, overall, the IFA security threat still appears easy to launch but hard to mitigate. This dissertation work shapes a better understanding of both the implications of IFAs and the possibilities of improving the state-of-the-art defense mechanisms against these attacks. The contributions of this work include the definition of a more complete and realistic attacker model for IFAs, the design of novel stealthy IFAs built upon the proposed attacker model, a re-assessment of the most-efficient state-of-the-art IFA countermeasures against the novel proposed attacks, the theorization and one concrete design of a novel class of IFA countermeasures to efficiently address the novel stealthy IFAs. Finally, this work also seminally proposes to leverage the latest programmable data-plane technologies to design and test alternative forwarding mechanisms for the NDN which could be less vulnerable to the IFA threat. [less ▲]

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See detailL'entretien préliminaire individuel. Une chance négligée pour la résolution constructive du conflit par la médiation.
Mischo-Fleury, Sylvie Monique UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Research on emotions and other psychic dimensions is now called upon to play an important role in preventing and resolving conflicts. Knowledge of psychological mechanisms, their normality and the ... [more ▼]

Research on emotions and other psychic dimensions is now called upon to play an important role in preventing and resolving conflicts. Knowledge of psychological mechanisms, their normality and the possibilities of intervening on their distortions in the conflict may contribute to offer answers to the mediator addressing these issues and enhanced skills to handle the face-to-face of a confrontational encounter. We have many years of experience in the treatment of psychopathologies, the regulation of mental dysfunctional mechanisms and their impact on social behaviors and cognitive processes triggered by emotions. During mediation session, if the actors of the litigation come to the negotiating table, it is precisely to address the crucial and highly emotional issues. Our practical experience of mediation, our partnerships with various mediation associations, the exchange with many field mediators, the research that we conducted, led us to think about practical solutions to the need for mediation based on psychology. We drew up a comprehensive review of the scientific literature and chose to set our questioning within the framework of action-research and mediation engineering and using the creative and participative methodology of design thinking. With a team of 7 mediators-users we have decoded, decrypted, the basic data of the psychic dimensions inherent to the conflict (perception, thought, emotion, will and values, behavior and communication). In our professional practice, we have built and experimented a structured matrix of analysis and intervention on the psychic dimensions in the conflict, the metamodel PRECAUCUS, to be used especially in pre-mediation, a restructured and fully integrated phase of the mediation process. An inductive qualitative analysis - in empirical research - enabled us to analyze the date collected during collaborative meetings as well as the benefits of using the first test of the metamodel. The results show the relevance of the solutions proposed both by the know-how and the "savoir-être" gained by the mediator and by the co-construction of the mediator/disputant work, as well as by the fact that psychology is, from now on, the most important fundamental discipline the when it comes to optimizing mediation process and contributing to the future of mediation. [less ▲]

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See detailAnti-de Sitter geometry: convex domains, foliations and volume
Tamburelli, Andrea UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

We study various aspects of the geometry of globally hyperbolic anti-de Sitter 3-manifolds. For manifolds with convex space-like boundaries, homeomorphic to the product of a closed, connected and oriented ... [more ▼]

We study various aspects of the geometry of globally hyperbolic anti-de Sitter 3-manifolds. For manifolds with convex space-like boundaries, homeomorphic to the product of a closed, connected and oriented surface of genus at least two with an interval, we prove that every pair of metrics with curvature less than -1 on the surface can be realised on the two boundary components. For globally hyperbolic maximal compact (GHMC) anti-de Sitter manifolds, we study various geometric quantities, such as the volume, the Hausdorff dimension of the limit set, the width of the convex core and the Holder exponent of the manifold, in terms of the parameters that describe the deformation space of GHMC anti-de Sitter structures. Moreover, we prove existence and uniqueness of a foliation by constant mean curvature surfaces of the domain of dependence of any quasi-circle in the boundary at infinity of anti-de Sitter space. [less ▲]

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See detailThe spatial road to mathematics - from the relation between spatial skills and early mathematics towards interventions
Cornu, Véronique UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Early mathematical abilities, developed prior the onset of formal instruction, have been identified as a strong predictor of later mathematical achievement and numeracy, which goes along, in turn, with a ... [more ▼]

Early mathematical abilities, developed prior the onset of formal instruction, have been identified as a strong predictor of later mathematical achievement and numeracy, which goes along, in turn, with a variety of different life outcomes. Hence, unravelling the cognitive abilities associated with successful mathematical development is an important effort in the field of numerical cognition and developmental psychology. Abilities that are identified as predictors of mathematical development are potentially vital key targets of early interventions. By fostering these key abilities, children’s mathematical development should be positively influenced. The present thesis pursues two major aims. The first aim is to identify key predictors of mathematical development. More precisely, the present thesis studies whether spatial skills fall within the category of key predictors in young children. Findings illustrate that different aspects of spatial skills emerge as strong predictors of mathematics (study I). Findings further highlight, that spatial skills hold a pivotal role for mathematical skills with a prominent verbal component (study II). The second aim is concerned with the elaboration and scientific investigation of the effects of early interventions. A distinguishing feature of the present thesis is, that it is set in the Luxembourgish school setting. The latter is characterized by its heterogeneous student population from diverse language backgrounds. According to current statistics, around two-third of the children who attend Luxembourgish fundamental school do not speak Luxembourgish as a first language at home. Hence, an important number of children are not fluent in the language of instruction in preschool. Therefore, a central concern was to develop and implement early interventions that face the challenges posed by a multilingual school setting. For this reason, the language-neutral early mathematics training tool “MaGrid” was developed. MaGrid sets out to overcome the language-barrier in early mathematics education. On the content side, it encompasses a vast amount of number-specific and spatial training tasks. In the context of the present thesis two intervention studies (study III and study IV), including this tool, were run and yielded promising results. Results of these studies further add to unravelling the relation between spatial skills and mathematics and answering the question, whether the (early) road to mathematics is spatial indeed. [less ▲]

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See detailSpeaker evaluations in multilingual contexts: The predictive role of language and nationality attitudes as distinct factors in explicit and implicit cognition
Lehnert, Tessa Elisabeth UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Previous speaker evaluation models have assumed that, in social interactions, attitudes towards languages are the most salient cues that are used to form an evaluation of the person who is speaking (Giles ... [more ▼]

Previous speaker evaluation models have assumed that, in social interactions, attitudes towards languages are the most salient cues that are used to form an evaluation of the person who is speaking (Giles & Marlow, 2011). The role of attitudes towards the speaker’s national group has not been addressed because most studies have been conducted in monolingual contexts in which spoken language serves as a clear indicator of national group membership. However, the concepts of language and nationality cannot be equated in multilingual societies, which are characterized by various nationals using different languages. The present dissertation addresses the need for the development of a revised theoretical model for multilingual contexts by making a distinction between language, nationality, and speaker concepts on both an explicit and an implicit level. The adapted model applies social-cognitive theories that propose a distinction between explicit and implicit processes and further posits a differential predictive influence of explicit and implicit attitudes on explicit and implicit speaker evaluations. In the multilingual context of Luxembourg, three successive studies were conducted by adapting an audio-based Implicit Association Test (IAT) as an implicit measure of language and nationality attitudes and an evaluative priming task as implicit measure of speaker evaluations. The findings emphasized the convergent and discriminant validity of language and nationality attitudes on both an explicit and an implicit level. Furthermore, the distinctness of explicit and implicit speaker evaluations was confirmed such that explicit evaluations were influenced by explicit attitudes, and implicit evaluations were affected by implicit attitudes. In the fourth study, the model was transferred to the linguistic context of Montreal (Canada). The findings showed that implicit speaker preferences were affected by implicit nationality attitudes affirming model transferability. Overall, the dissertation shows that language is a salient factor in explicit person perception, whereas nationality plays a vital role on an implicit level, demonstrating the added value of the language-nationality and the explicit-implicit distinction in the speaker evaluation formation. Self-reports diverged from implicit measures such that an in-group bias was visible only on an implicit level, giving insight into the effect of specific socio-contextual factors in a given linguistic context as well as the practical implications for decision makers in professional domains. [less ▲]

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See detailOptical Detection of Deep Defects in Cu(In,Ga)Se2
Spindler, Conrad UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The aim of this thesis is to shed light on the deep defect structure in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 by photoluminescence measurements and to propose a possible conclusive defect model by attributing experimental ... [more ▼]

The aim of this thesis is to shed light on the deep defect structure in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 by photoluminescence measurements and to propose a possible conclusive defect model by attributing experimental findings to a literature review of defect calculations from first principles. Epitaxial films are grown on GaAs by metal organic vapor phase epitaxy and characterized by photoluminescence at room or low temperature. In CuGaSe2, deep defect bands at ca. 1.1 eV and 1.23 eV are resolved. A model for the power law behavior in excitation dependent measurements of the peak intensities is derived, which leads to the experimental finding of two deep donor-like defects as a result. In Cu(In,Ga)Se2, the deeper band at around 1.1 eV remains constant in energy when more and more gallium is replaced by indium in the solid solution. For decreasing Ga-contents, the band gap is mainly lowered by a decrease of the conduction band energy. From fitting models for electron-phonon coupling, the dominating deep donor-like defect is determined at 1.3 eV above the valence band maximum. This level is proposed to be crucial for high Ga-contents when it is deep inside the band gap and most likely acts as a recombination center. At low Ga-contents it is resonant with the conduction band. The larger open circuit voltage deficits for high Ga-contents are proposed to stem at least partly from this defect which is qualitatively supported by simulations. Additionally another defect band at around 0.7 eV is observed for high Ga-contents at low temperatures and at 0.8 eV for low Ga-contents. The intensity of the 0.8 eV band seems to disappear in a sample with Cu-deficiency. In general, deep luminescence is always observed with similar energies in all Cu-rich compositions, independent of the Ga-content. The deep defect involved could explain inferior efficiencies of Cu-rich devices which show increased non-radiative recombination in general. It is further discussed that the same deep defect could be the origin of a level at 0.8 eV which is observed in several photo-capacitance measurements in literature. Based on the literature review for intrinsic defect calculations by hybrid-functionals, a possible defect model for shallow and deep defects is derived with a focus on those results, where different authors using different methods agree. By comparing the experimental results in the scope of this thesis, the deep defect found at 1.3 eV above the valence band is attributed to the GaCu antisites. The single (0/-1) charge transition of CuIn and CuGa is proposed to be the main shallow acceptor in the near-band-edge luminescence of Cu-rich compositions at 60 - 100 meV, whereas the second (-1/-2) charge transition is attributed to the deep 0.8 eV defect band. The present findings could be useful for the improvement of Cu(In,Ga)Se2 solar cells with stochiometric absorber compositions (Cu-rich growth) or with high band gaps (high Ga-content). Furthermore, the results show a very good agreement of experiment and recent theoretical calculations of defects, which can be seen as a promising relation between photoluminescence spectroscopy and predictions from theory for other complex materials. [less ▲]

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See detailAdvanced Raman Spectroscopy of Ultrathin RNiO3 films
Schober, Alexander UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The present work aims at investigating the structural properties of ultrathin rare-earth nickelate films by Raman Spectroscopy. Two remarkable cases are studied: LaNiO3 deposited epitaxially on LaAlO3 ... [more ▼]

The present work aims at investigating the structural properties of ultrathin rare-earth nickelate films by Raman Spectroscopy. Two remarkable cases are studied: LaNiO3 deposited epitaxially on LaAlO3, which shows a metal-to-insulator (MIT) transition but only in the ultrathin film regime, and NdNiO3 deposited epitaxially on NdGaO3 showing an upward shift of its MIT temperature by 130 K but only when deposited along the [111]pc direction of the substrate. The extremely small size of the films and overlap of the film and substrate signatures represent an experimental challenge and require the development of ingenious measurement and analysis strategies. To overcome these limitations, we propose the creation of a multidimensional dataset through depth profile acquisitions, in combination with multivariate analysis tools that were employed to extract the signature of the films. Different analysis strategies were used in both cases to adapt to the specificities of the respective samples. For the LNO films deposited along the [001]pc orientation of LAO, Raman depth profile measurements in combination with a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) allowed us to dissociate the signals from the film and the substrate. The evolution of the LNO peaks does not suggest any phase transition, thus, suggesting that a mechanism unrelated to the MIT of other nickelates is triggering the insulating state. This was further validated by ab initio calculations and TEM imaging. All acquired data point towards the following: as LNO becomes very thin, the surface layer (≈ 2pc u.c.), which is the most rigid part of the structure, imposes its structural and insulating characteristic. In the ultrathin regime this continues to a point where the surface of the film alters the interfacial unit cells of the substrate. For the NNO films deposited along the [111]pc orientation of NGO, depth profile measurements in combination with a Non-negative Matrix Factorisation (NMF) allowed us to dissociate the signals from the film and the substrate. The dissociation was performed at room temperature and the acquired knowledge was then utilised to fit an entire temperature series from 5 to 390 K. Comparing the tendency of the Raman signatures with other rare-earth nickelate allowed to support the proposed position of the film in the phase diagram of nickelates by a structural measurement. More generally, the methodology developed in this work is applicable to other systems and opens new perspectives for application of Raman spectroscopy on ultra-thin films. [less ▲]

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See detailSTUDY OF THE INCORPORATION MECHANISMS OF ORGANIC CHEMICALS INTO HAIR
Chata, Caroline Georgette Samia UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Hair presents several advantages for biomonitoring the exposure to pollutants. For instance, this matrix is representative of the mid to long term exposure depending on the length of the sample. However ... [more ▼]

Hair presents several advantages for biomonitoring the exposure to pollutants. For instance, this matrix is representative of the mid to long term exposure depending on the length of the sample. However the question concerning the hair incorporation mechanism of chemicals remain partially unravelled. The subject of the present PhD was the “study of the incorporation mechanisms of organic chemicals into hair” (StICHa). Therefore we focused on the influence of biological and physicochemical parameters on the incorporation of pesticides into hair. The results presented in the project were obtained from three experiments whose two animal experiments conducted on rats. The first one allowed to link levels of exposure of pesticides to the corresponding concentrations in plasma and in hair. This also allowed to study the accumulation of pesticides in the rat body over time and to investigate the influence of the pesticide physicochemical properties on their incorporation into hair. The second one provided pharmacokinetic (PK) parameters of pesticides in blood after a single exposure and highlighted the concept of background exposure corresponding to the detectable chemicals concentration in the animals before exposure due to environmental contamination. An in vitro test was also conducted to investigate bonds between pesticides and blood components and their influence on hair incorporation. [less ▲]

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See detailUNRAVELING THE COMPLEX GENETICS OF NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS
Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

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See detailAnalysis and Design of Privacy-Enhancing Information Sharing Systems
Symeonidis, Iraklis UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Recent technological advancements have enabled the collection of large amounts of personal data of individuals at an ever-increasing rate. Service providers, organisations and governments can collect or ... [more ▼]

Recent technological advancements have enabled the collection of large amounts of personal data of individuals at an ever-increasing rate. Service providers, organisations and governments can collect or otherwise acquire rich information about individuals’ everyday lives and habits from big data-silos, enabling profiling and micro-targeting such as in political elections. Therefore, it is important to analyse systems that allow the collection and information sharing between users and to design secure and privacy enhancing solutions. This thesis contains two parts. The aim of the first part is to investigate in detail the effects of the collateral information collection of third-party applications on Facebook. The aim of the second part is to analyse in detail the security and privacy issues of car sharing systems and to design a secure and privacy-preserving solution. In the first part, we present a detailed multi-faceted study on the collateral information collection privacy issues of Facebook applications; providers of third-party applications on Facebook exploit the interdependency between users and their friends. The goal is to (i) study the existence of the problem, (ii) investigate whether Facebook users are concerned about the issue, quantify its (iii) likelihood and (iv) impact of collateral information collection affecting users, (v) identify whether collateral information collection is an issue for the protection of the personal data of Facebook users under the legal framework, and (vi) we propose solutions that aim to solve the problem of collateral information collection. In order to investigate the views of the users, we designed a questionnaire and collected the responses of participants. Employing real data from the Facebook third-party applications ecosystem, we compute the likelihood of collateral information collection affecting users and quantify its significance evaluating the amount of attributes collected by such applications. To investigate whether collateral information collection is an issue in terms of users’ privacy we analysed the legal framework in light of the General Data Protection Regulation. To provide countermeasures, we propose a privacy dashboard extension that implements privacy scoring computations to enhance transparency towards collateral information collection. [less ▲]

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See detailMagnetic small-angle neutron scattering on bulk metallic glasses
Mettus, Denis UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The present PhD thesis is devoted to the exploration of the use of the magnetic small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) technique for analyzing the magnetic microstructure of bulk magnetic materials. More ... [more ▼]

The present PhD thesis is devoted to the exploration of the use of the magnetic small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) technique for analyzing the magnetic microstructure of bulk magnetic materials. More specifically, magnetic-field-dependent SANS has been utilized to study the magnetic microstructure of bulk metallic glasses (BMGs). The magnetic scattering is compared for soft magnetic and hard magnetic compositions in different mechanically treated states. On the basis of the continuum theory of micromagnetics, the correlation function of the spin-misalignment SANS cross section is computed and analyzed as a function of various external and material parameters. Analysis of the experimental correlation functions of the BMG reveals the existence of field-dependent anisotropic long-wavelength magnetization fluctuations on a scale of a few tens of nanometers. As a second aspect of this PhD work, we have explored the impact of the Dzyaloshinski-Moriya interaction on the elastic magnetic SANS cross section of microstructural-defect-rich materials. The effect was demonstrated by measuring polarized SANS on a nanocrystalline terbium sample and on a cold-rolled polycrystalline cobalt sample. [less ▲]

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See detailNonequilibrium Thermodynamics in Biology: From Molecular Motors to Metabolic Pathways
Wachtel, Artur UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Biological systems need to exchange energy and matter with their environment in order to stay functional or “alive”. This exchange has to obey the laws of thermodynamics: energy cannot be created and ... [more ▼]

Biological systems need to exchange energy and matter with their environment in order to stay functional or “alive”. This exchange has to obey the laws of thermodynamics: energy cannot be created and exchange comes at the cost of dissipation, which limits the efficiency of biological function. Additionally, subcellular processes that involve only few molecules are stochastic in their dynamics and a consistent theoretical modeling has to account for that. This dissertation connects recent development in nonequilibrium thermodynamics with approaches taken in biochemical modeling. I start by a short introduction to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, with a special emphasis on large deviation theory and stochastic thermodynamics. Building on that, I present a general theory for the thermodynamic analysis of networks of chemical reactions that are open to the exchange of matter. As a particularly insightful concrete example I discuss the mechanochemical energy conversion in stochastic models of a molecular motor protein, and show how a similar analysis can be performed for more general models. Furthermore, I compare the dissipation in stochastically and deterministically modeled open chemical networks, and present a class of chemical networks that displays exact agreement for arbitrary abundance of chemical species and arbitrary distance from thermodynamic equilibrium. My major achievement is a thermodynamically consistent coarse-graining procedure for biocatalysts, which are ubiquitous in molecular cell biology. Finally, I discuss the thermodynamics of unbranched enzymatic chains. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 49 (12 UL)
See detailDevelopment of mass spectrometry-based assays to measure the ERCC1/XPF proteins as potential biomarkers in lung cancer
Antonelli, Daniela UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

In the last two decades, the integration of personalized medicine approaches in the management of oncology patients has led to important progress. Indeed, the use of predictive biomarkers in clinical ... [more ▼]

In the last two decades, the integration of personalized medicine approaches in the management of oncology patients has led to important progress. Indeed, the use of predictive biomarkers in clinical practice to improve treatment strategies has represented an important achievement for both patient clinical outcomes and quality of medical care. In the context of lung cancer, several studies have highlighted a potential role of the excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) protein as a predictive biomarker of platinum-based chemotherapy efficacy in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. ERCC1 protein and its binding partner, the DNA repair endonuclease XPF, are key players in the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway where they repair DNA lesions caused by platinum-based drugs. However, the presence of four ERCC1 isoforms, of which only one, ERCC1-202, is functional in the NER pathway, complicates the clinical scenario. Indeed, the lack of an antibody that specifically recognizes ERCC1-202 hampers the development of a valid clinical assay to assist clinicians in therapeutic decision making. Moreover, the essential nature of the ERCC1/XPF interaction to repair DNA lesions, suggested the pivotal role of the ERCC1/XPF complex in the prediction of therapy response. Because of the need to discriminate among the four ERCC1 isoforms, to selectively quantify ERCC1-202 in an antibody-independent fashion, and because of the required contribution of the XPF protein in the DNA lesion processing, the present project aimed to develop robust mass spectrometry (MS)-based assays for the ERCC1 and XPF isoforms to provide accurate quantification of the ERCC1-202/XPF proteins as binding partners. Combining ERCC1 or XPF immunoenrichment from biological samples with targeted mass spectrometry, the selected ERCC1 and XPF proteotypic peptides (PTPs) were measured by parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) using a quadrupole-obitrap mass spectrometer. The quantification of the ERCC1-202/XPF proteins was performed using stable isotope labeled (SIL) peptides. The associated results showed that the simultaneous detection of three ERCC1 PTPs, named isoform discriminating peptides, represents a signature of ERCC1-202 and that the inclusion of control peptides allows to avoide ERCC1 isoform misclassification. The immuno-affinity studies and the evaluation of XPF stability highlighted that ERCC1-202 interacts and stabilizes XPF. Finally, a correlation between ERCC1-202/XPF protein levels was observed. In the light of the poor analytic specificity of the current immunohistochemistry (IHC) assay for the ERCC1 protein, the use of targeted MS-based assays to detect and quantify both ERCC1-202 and XPF proteins represents a more selective approach. These findings strongly suggest to assess the role of the ERCC1-202/XPF proteins as predictive biomarkers in clinical samples with the final goal to guide the clinicians’ therapeutic decisions. [less ▲]

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See detailMULTI-GNSS ERROR CHARACTERISTICS AND BENEFITS TO LONG-TERM MONITORING APPLICATIONS IN GEOSCIENCES
Abraha, Kibrom Ebuy UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-derived position solutions are used for crustal deformations for long-term monitoring studies such as correcting sea-level records for vertical land movements and ... [more ▼]

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-derived position solutions are used for crustal deformations for long-term monitoring studies such as correcting sea-level records for vertical land movements and to determine present-day surface-mass changes. In all these studies scientists rely heavily on precise International GNSS Service (IGS) products. In recent years the IGS products have partly been generated from a rigorous combination of GNSS, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) and Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) observations. Although combined solutions from two or more GNSS benefit from the diversity and redundancy of having more than one GNSS, the solutions are also subjected to system-specific systematic errors. Applications which demand high-accuracy products, therefore, would profit from evaluations of the benefits and error characteristics of combined GNSS solutions. In response to the increased availability of multi-GNSS observations from a truly global ground network of receivers, the goal of this thesis is to investigate their overall impacts on the derived products. Primarily, the impacts of combined GNSS data processing for stations in a constrained environment with a potential for signal obstructions, is investigated. The effects of signal obstructions on derived parameter time series and station velocity estimates are assessed. The benefits of combined solutions are evaluated for stations in constrained environments. Moreover, the study of the impacts of combined solutions on satellite orbits and station parameters contributes to the understanding of the error characteristics of combined GNSS data processing on derived products. The consistency of the parameters, noise analysis and system-specific periodic errors are assessed. Dominant system specific periodic errors and the impact of combined solutions on reducing the effects are addressed. Unmodelled or insufficiently modelled (sub-)daily errors propagate to longer periods and appear in high-end products coinciding with other longer periods, which in turn may lead to misleading interpretations of the latter. The propagation mechanism mainly depends, among other factors, on data sampling deficiencies and GNSS ground repeat periods. Here, the results of this study show that combined solutions not only reduce system-specific effects but also provide a means to identifying the sources from other compatible elements. [less ▲]

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See detailMULTIMODAL LEGAL INFORMATION RETRIEVAL
Adebayo, Kolawole John UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The goal of this thesis is to present a multifaceted way of inducing semantic representation from legal documents as well as accessing information in a precise and timely manner. The thesis explored ... [more ▼]

The goal of this thesis is to present a multifaceted way of inducing semantic representation from legal documents as well as accessing information in a precise and timely manner. The thesis explored approaches for semantic information retrieval (IR) in the legal context with a technique that maps specific parts of a text to the relevant concept. This technique relies on text segments, using the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), a topic modeling algorithm for performing text segmentation, expanding the concept using some Natural Language Processing techniques, and then associating the text segments to the concepts using a semi-supervised Text Similarity technique. This solves two problems, i.e., that of user specificity in formulating query, and information overload, for querying a large document collection with a set of concepts is more fine-grained since specific information, rather than full documents is retrieved. The second part of the thesis describes our Neural Network Relevance Model for E-Discovery Information Retrieval. Our algorithm is essentially a feature-rich Ensemble system with different component Neural Networks extracting different relevance signal. This model has been trained and evaluated on the TREC Legal track 2010 data. The performance of our models across board proves that it capture the semantics and relatedness between query and document which is important to the Legal Information Retrieval domain [less ▲]

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See detailDesign and Implementation of Legal Protection for Trade Secrets in Cloud Brokerage Architectures relying on Blockchains
Wasim, Muhammad Umer UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Data Protection legislation has evolved around the globe to maximize legal protection of trade secrets. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to prove trade secret violations in cloud context ... [more ▼]

Data Protection legislation has evolved around the globe to maximize legal protection of trade secrets. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to prove trade secret violations in cloud context. Embedding legal protection as a preemptive measure could effectively reduce such burden of proof in a court of law, which can be implemented by an online broker in the cloud. The primary aim of this research was to propose a model for an online broker that embeds le-gal protection as preemptive measure to reduce burden of proof during litigation. This is a novel area of inter-disciplinary research whose body of knowledge is not yet well established. The underlying concept in the proposed model was built upon the notion of factor analysis from the discipline of unsupervised machine learning. For evaluation, two-stage procedure was implemented that showed ap-plication of legal protection as preemptive measure and subsequently, reduced burden of proof in a court of law. A real time quality of service based dataset for cloud storage providers (Carbonite, Dropbox, iBackup, JustCloud, SOS Online Backup, SugarSync, and Zip Cloud) was used for the technical evaluation. The simulation results showed better results of proposed model as compared to its counterparts in the field, which in court of law can be used as a part of evidence to reduce burden of proof. For legal validation of such conclusion, questionnaires were sent to law and ICT experts. There were total of six respondents (two from the field of ICT, two from the field of law, and two from the field of ICT and Law). The sample (5 out of 6 respondents) agreed that results of our model could be used in the court (or judiciary) as a part of evidence to reduce burden of proof. Theoretically, this part of research (focused on primary aim) is a pioneer effort on providing legal protection to trade secrets in the cloud. Practically, it will benefit an enterprise to negotiate contract with service providers to minimize trade secret misappropriation in the cloud. However, for enterprise that is using decentralized architecture in the cloud e.g. blockchains, contracts could emerge towards smart contracts (an autono-mous software program running over blockchains). In this context, a well negoti-ated contract will not be a solution to minimize trade secret misappropriation. In fact, for this case it is particularly relevant to instantiate role of judiciary over a blockchain. The secondary aim of this research was to develop a model that can be implemented over the blockchain to automatically issue preliminary injunc-tion (or temporary restraining order by court of law) for the breach of contract that can potentially lead to trade secret misappropriation. This part of the re-search extended the previously proposed model by using stochastic modeling from the discipline of data science. High performance computing (HPC) cluster at University of Luxembourg (HPC @ Uni.lu) and docker (a software container platform) were used to emulate contractual environment of three service provid-ers: Redis, MongoDB, and Memcached Servers. The results showed that court in-junction(s) was issued only for Redis and MongoDB Servers. Technically, this difference could be attributed to the fact that Memcached is simply used for caching and therefore, it is less prone to breach of contract. Whereas, Redis and MongoDB as databases and message brokers are performing more complex oper-ations and are more likely to cause a breach. For legal validation of the results, questionnaires were sent to law and ICT experts. There were total of six respond-ents (two from the field of ICT, two from the field of law, and two from the field of ICT and Law). The sample (4 out of 6 respondents) disagreed “ONLY” using the results of the model by the court of law (or judiciary) to issues a preliminary injunction (or temporary restraining order) for the breach of contract. Theoreti-cally, this part of the research is a pioneer attempt for providing legal protection over the blockchain. Practically, it will benefit blockchain driven enterprises to control and stop breach of contract that can potentially lead to trade secret mis-appropriation. In addition to above mentioned applied benefits, following list briefly presents research contributions of this multidisciplinary Ph.D. research in the domain of Law. • It is first in-line to focus on legal protection for trade secrets in the cloud. A well-established similar concept is “information security”, which provides technical protection for trade secrets in the cloud e.g. encryption, hashing etc. • In the domain of case law, despite of the jurisdiction constraint i.e. precedents (or court rulings) are binding on all courts within the same jurisdiction, this research is first in-line to use case law together with newly proposed Delphi Sampling method to provide legal protection for trade secrets in borderless online cloud environment. • It is first in-line to implement notion of “confidentiality by design”, which focuses on a legal person or an enterprise. A well-established similar concept is “privacy by design” that focuses on a physical per-son or human being. • By defying the myth that “smart contracts cannot be breached” and in the context of contract law, this research is first in-line to automate role of the court (evidential hearing). In addition to the above mentioned research contribution in the domain of Law, following list briefly presents research contribution in the domain of ICT. • In the context of multi-criteria decision analysis, this research is first in-line to identify and analyze noise in the data and solves related is-sue of structural uncertainty (or misspecification of criteria). • In the context of machine learning, this research is first in-line to propose “self-regulated multi-criteria decision analysis” that operates without decision maker’s interference and hence, it can be used in the context where automation of decision making process is required. • In the context of multidisciplinary research, this study is first in-line to propose a method of Delphi Sampling that seeks inter-disciplinary validation for research results. [less ▲]

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See detailStochastic Model Predictive Control for Eco-Driving Assistance Systems in Electric Vehicles
Sajadi Alamdari, Seyed Amin UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Electric vehicles are expected to become one of the key elements of future sustainable transportation systems. The first generation of electric cars are already commercially available but still, suffer ... [more ▼]

Electric vehicles are expected to become one of the key elements of future sustainable transportation systems. The first generation of electric cars are already commercially available but still, suffer from problems and constraints that have to be solved before a mass market might be created. Key aspects that will play an important role in modern electric vehicles are range extension, energy efficiency, safety, comfort as well as communication. An overall solution approach to integrating all these aspects is the development of advanced driver assistance systems to make electric vehicles more intelligent. Driver assistance systems are based on the integration of suitable sensors and actuators as well as electronic devices and software-enabled control functionality to automatically support the human driver. Driver assistance for electric vehicles will differ from the already used systems in fuel-powered cars such as electronic stability programs, adaptive cruise control etc. in a way that they must support energy efficiency while the system itself must also have a low power consumption. In this work, an eco-driving functionality as the first step towards those new driver assistance systems for electric vehicles will be investigated. Using information about the internal state of the car, navigation information as well as advanced information about the environment coming from sensors and network connections, an algorithm will be developed that will adapt the speed of the vehicle automatically to minimize energy consumption. From an algorithmic point of view, a stochastic model predictive control approach will be applied and adapted to the special constraints of the problem. Finally, the solution will be tested in simulations as well as in first experiments with a commercial electric vehicle in the SnT Automation & Robotics Research Group (SnT ARG). [less ▲]

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See detailTraditions in Tension: An Ethnographic Inquiry of Luxembourg’s Family-Run Hotels
Adiguna, Rocky UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The suggestion that tradition plays a role in family business is a long-acknowledged but often presumed notion in family business research. As a result, studies that attempt to conceptualise tradition as ... [more ▼]

The suggestion that tradition plays a role in family business is a long-acknowledged but often presumed notion in family business research. As a result, studies that attempt to conceptualise tradition as a focal point remain scarce. This dissertation addresses this vacuum by examining the properties and processes that are involved in the tradition-making and tradition-maintaining of hospitality-based family businesses. Based on an ethnographic inquiry of five hotel-running families in Luxembourg, this dissertation inquires into the meanings and tensions of tradition. Drawing from a process perspective, it explores how family owner-managers receive, enact, and perpetuate the continuity of the family businesses as traditions. Theoretically, this study contributes to two streams of literature: to the family business literature by providing a conceptual foundation for understanding tradition as process, and to the process organisation studies literature by proposing family business as an exemplar of tradition where the past is immanent in the present. Methodologically, this study attends to discourses and narratives at the national level, the industry level, and the organisational level to contextualise the family-run hotels in a wider discursive space. These multi-level analyses constitute the basis for the application of a field ethnography which attempts to explore the relationality between different modes of discourse in a chosen field: texts, talks, actions, and images. As a result, the lived narratives of five hotel-running families are produced. This dissertation advances tradition as a root metaphor for family business and proposes three different angles of seeing the family business as tradition: family business as received tradition, family business as enacted tradition, and family business as tradition to be transmitted. In alignment with the process perspective, four dualities in the enactment of the family businesses as traditions are discussed: repetition and novelty, preservation and abandonment, being and appearing, and certainty and possibility. Ultimately, this dissertation puts into question the predominant understanding of tradition as a fixed construct argues instead that tradition's apparent unity, fixity, and stability is a result of a reflexive process which is enacted by owner-managers on a daily basis. [less ▲]

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See detailAngle and Spectral Dependence of the Internal and External Quantum Efficiency of Solar Modules
Reiners, Nils UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Reviewing scientific publications in the field of photovoltaic research, it becomes apparent that most of the investigations are carried out under perpendicular light incidence even though many of the ... [more ▼]

Reviewing scientific publications in the field of photovoltaic research, it becomes apparent that most of the investigations are carried out under perpendicular light incidence even though many of the relevant processes in a solar cell or module may strongly depend on the angle of incidence. The reasons for this are most likely due to three facts. Firstly, the equipment that is available for measurements and characterization in research laboratories is mainly constructed for perpendicular incidence. Secondly, the complexity of the analysis strongly increases when the angle of incidence is considered and thirdly, there is still a lack of standardization, which makes it difficult to compare the performance of solar modules at oblique incidence. Regarding the maximization of the annual energy yield of a solar module it is crucial to be aware of operating conditions in the field. It is obvious that most of the time, light is incident on the module’s surface with an oblique angle. However, it is not sufficient to investigate the short circuit current density effects due to the variation of the angle of incidence as it is often done. The reflection and absorption properties of the materials in a solar module generally vary with the wavelength of the incident light. This is the reason why it is convenient to take the angular and the spectral performance of solar modules into account simultaneously. In this thesis a synopsis of all the relevant angle and spectral dependent effects is presented for silicon solar cells and modules. It is shown that not only optical effects are occurring, but that the internal quantum efficiency (IQE) also varies with the angle of incidence. It is also shown to which extent the implementation of textured surfaces influences the angle dependence of the external quantum efficiency (EQE) and the IQE. The analysis is performed using a newly developed analytical solar cell model that takes into account all relevant parasitic absorption processes in an untextured solar cell. Using an effective angle approach, the analysis can be extended to a textured solar cell. For more complex structures, a ray tracing tool was developed that is capable of simulating several textured layers and subsequently, of determining the corresponding EQE and IQE at all desired angles of incidence. The angle and spectral dependence of the cells and modules under investigation were determined using measurement equipment that was particularly constructed for this purpose. The angle dependence of the EQE of the samples was determined with two different systems: A filter monochromator to determine the spectral response and by transforming the electroluminescence spectrum of the samples to the EQE using the opto-electronic reciprocity relation of solar cells. To determine the angle dependence of the IQE, a measurement setup was constructed for the determination of the angular reflection spectra. Finally, the different angle and spectral dependent effects that were identified were analyzed with respect to their influence on the energy yield estimation of standard solar modules under outdoor conditions. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterization and Multi-Physical Analysis of RF-Driven Microwave Plasma Applications from 1.3 GHz to 3.5 GHz
Schopp, Christoph UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

This thesis presents the analysis of microwave plasma frequency-dependence based on the investigation of multi-physical parameters. Fundamentals of a microwave plasma and high-frequency technology are ... [more ▼]

This thesis presents the analysis of microwave plasma frequency-dependence based on the investigation of multi-physical parameters. Fundamentals of a microwave plasma and high-frequency technology are explained. Frequency-dependent effects on the base point impedance are presented in combination with the description of the used measuring hardware. Development of a bi-static network for the main plasma states (ignition and operation) is presented on the example of two high-pressure lamps at 2.45 GHz. Networks of both lamps are custom-built during the course of this thesis. An efficacy of 135 lm/W is achieved exceeding the efficacy of most LEDs. Frequency-dependent electrical properties are analyzed by reflection measurements of three different prototypes (argon plasma jet, phosphor-coated lamp and hollow glass cylinder filled with xenon) for the first time. A novel and simple lumped element and 3D-model are developed for the fitting of the plasma. A series resonance circuit substitutes the frequency-dependency of the capacitive plasma. The models are extended for S21 measurements by a novel developed transmission prototype. A simple frequency-dependent capacitor lumped element model fits the transmission parameters of the plasma. The novel core/cone3D-model is capable of fitting the plasma in an FEM simulator by only using the conductivity. A significant influence of the frequency on the spatial properties of all prototypes is measured for the first time by a simple CMOS camera and a custom image registration routine. The spatial extension is inversely proportional to the frequency. Optical measurements identify the participating ion species. Influence of the frequency on single spectral bands are presented in an in-depth analysis using optical emission spectroscopy. A proportionality of the frequency and the energy density in the microwave plasma is revealed. This is supported by the thermal measurements. The plasma jet rotational temperature is determined by the hydroxyl band at 310nm and shows a maximum values of 1350 K at only 15 W. [less ▲]

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See detailMany-Body Perturbation Theory Approach to Raman Spectroscopy and Its Application to 2D Materials
Reichardt, Sven UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Raman spectroscopy has become one of the most important techniques for the characterization of materials, as it allows the simultaneous probing of several properties, such as electronic and vibrational ... [more ▼]

Raman spectroscopy has become one of the most important techniques for the characterization of materials, as it allows the simultaneous probing of several properties, such as electronic and vibrational excitations, at once. This versatility, however, makes its theoretical description very challenging and, up to now, no fully satisfactory and general way for the calculation of Raman spectra from first principles exists. In this thesis, we aim to fill this gap and present a coherent theory of Raman scattering within the framework of many-body perturbation theory. We develop a novel and general, correlation function-based approach for the calculation of Raman scattering rates that can potentially also be applied to ultra-fast Raman spectroscopy out of equilibrium. Besides these theoretical developments, we present concrete computational recipes for the calculation of Raman intensities that allow the inclusion of both excitonic effects and non-adiabatic effects of lattice vibrations. The latter has so far not been possible with state-of-the-art methods, which can only take into account one of the two effects. As a first test case, we apply our theory to graphene, for which we use it to study the laser frequency and Fermi energy dependence of the Raman G-peak intensity. The flexibility of our approach also allows us to demonstrate that non-resonant processes and quantum mechanical interference effects play a significant role in Raman scattering. This applies not only to graphene but also to other two-dimensional materials of current interest, such as MoTe2 and MoS2. In addition to the development of a consistent and comprehensive description of Raman scattering, we derive a novel approach for the calculation of phonon frequencies and the screened electron-phonon coupling. It can be applied also to strongly correlated systems, for which the currently used methods are not entirely satisfactory or insufficient. Our new method goes beyond the limitations of the methods currently in use and will permit the computation of phonon-related quantities also in systems with strong correlation effects such as Kohn anomalies (e.g., graphene) or Peierls instabilities. Lastly, we present work on the application of (magneto-)Raman spectroscopy as a probe for many-body effects in graphene. Here we focus on the description of the phenomenon of magneto-phonon resonances and how it can be used to probe electronic excitation energies and to extract electron and phonon lifetimes. [less ▲]

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See detailTime Averages of Diffusion Processes and Applications to Two-Timescale Problems
Pepin, Bob UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

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See detailBewohnerorientierte Betreuung für Luxemburgs Alten- und Pflegeheimbewohner. Theoretische und empirische Analysen zur Entwicklung und Implementierung eines neuen Betreuungsmodells
Pax, Nadine UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The starting point of the dissertation is the thesis that the work in Luxembourg's nursing homes is based on nursing models that are - in today's sense of gerontology - outdated in some respects. This is ... [more ▼]

The starting point of the dissertation is the thesis that the work in Luxembourg's nursing homes is based on nursing models that are - in today's sense of gerontology - outdated in some respects. This is explained in the theoretical part in (literary-) analyzes on the following topics: Aging and theories of aging, living conditions in the national homes, qualification of geriatric nursing staff, previously used nursing models, central needs of older people from the perspective of nursing models and recent research. In the second part, the author presents her support model for Luxembourg nursing homes developed in this context, which focuses on the promotion of competences, autonomy and self-determination as well as the fulfillment of the central needs of residents of care institutions. The components of the model are presented and the prerequisites for a successful implementation with regard to legal-administrative regulations, qualification of the nursing staff, sensitization of the inhabitants of residential nursing institutions and their relatives as well as the public are comprehensively elaborated and completed by considerations of quality assurance and the limits of the model. In the center of the third part is an empirical study of Luxembourg nursing staff with the aim of identifying needs and conditions for the introduction of the new support model. In a questionnaire study, with n = 155 participants of different qualification levels, their typical nursing behavior as well as caregiver-related convictions, goals and emotions were surveyed. By cluster analysis - as expected - a group of caregivers has been identified that tends to promote nursing behavior that promotes autonomy, while - contrary to expectations - no group of caregivers has shown nursing behavior that limits autonomy. Instead, there was a group with inconsistent care, characterized partly by promotion and partly by restriction on the autonomy of inhabitants of residential care institutions. A similar cluster pattern emerged for the nursing goals and beliefs. A subsequent comparison of the care behavior clusters revealed systematic differences in goals and beliefs favoring autonomy or limitation. Overall, the findings indicate a need for autonomous support and care for elderly people in Luxembourg. Finally, ways are sketched for the gradual introduction of a corresponding support model. [less ▲]

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See detailA Scalable and Accurate Hybrid Vulnerability Analysis Framework
Thome, Julian UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

As the Internet has become an integral part of our everyday life for activities such as e-mail, online-banking, shopping, entertainment, etc., vulnerabilities in Web software arguably have greater impact ... [more ▼]

As the Internet has become an integral part of our everyday life for activities such as e-mail, online-banking, shopping, entertainment, etc., vulnerabilities in Web software arguably have greater impact than vulnerabilities in other types of software. Vulnerabilities in Web applications may lead to serious issues such as disclosure of confidential data, integrity violation, denial of service, loss of commercial confidence/customer trust, and threats to the continuity of business operations. For companies these issues can result in significant financial losses. The most common and serious threats for Web applications include injection vulnerabilities, where malicious input can be “injected” into the program to alter its intended behavior or the one of another system. These vulnerabilities can cause serious damage to a system and its users. For example, an attacker could compromise the systems underlying the application or gain access to a database containing sensitive information. The goal of this thesis is to provide a scalable approach, based on symbolic execution and constraint solving, which aims to effectively find injection vulnerabilities in the server-side code of Java Web applications and which generates no or few false alarms, minimizes false negatives, overcomes the path explosion problem and enables the solving of complex constraints. [less ▲]

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See detailRecent developments around the Malliavin-Stein approach (Fourth moment phenomena via exchangeable pairs)
Zheng, Guangqu UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Part I is a survey, part II is a collection of papers.

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See detailLarge-scale and Flexible Nanogenerator based on ZnO conical nanostructures by Nano-Imprint Lithography and Atomic Layer Deposition
Spirito, David Mario André UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The present work stands in the context of the rapid growth of portable electronics and wireless sensors. This growth drives the request for advances in materials science and technology to harvest energy ... [more ▼]

The present work stands in the context of the rapid growth of portable electronics and wireless sensors. This growth drives the request for advances in materials science and technology to harvest energy from ambient sources. Piezoelectric nanogenerators, which convert vibrations into electrical energy, are considered as one of the promising building blocks for the design of low-cost and performant energy harvesting devices. Several demonstrations of PENGs have been reported throughout the last decade, many of them based on Zinc Oxide –ZnO– nanowires. Despite interesting performances, literature also suggests that the classical bottom-up approach of optimized ZnO-based PENGs performance approaches its limits and that top-down approaches merit further attention. This has motivated the present work, with the aim to conceptualize by models, to fabricate and to investigate a new type of piezoelectric nanogenerator based on ZnO nanostructures to overcome current limitations. To achieve this goal, we have used a top-down approach that allows an accurate control of the aspect ratio and density of tailored ZnO nanowires by using Nano-Imprint Lithography and Atomic Layer Deposition. In our work, we demonstrate that this approach enables the fabrication of large flexible piezoelectric nanogenerators with interesting properties. In the first part of this work, we have optimized the synthesis of crystalline N-doped ZnO films by ALD at a deposition temperature as low as T = 80 °C. We have particularly investigated the role of the time of purge with nitrogen as purge gas in each cycle of a ZnO monolayer of the ALD process. A thorough chemical and structural analysis illustrates that the time of purge allows tuning the N-doping-level which, despite being low, affects both the long-range and short-range structure. Raman and luminescence spectroscopy suggest a complex defect structure, characterized by nitrogen ions which substitute oxygen ions and by Zn cations on interstitial sites. Importantly, even the low level of nitrogen doping allows tuning the sheet resistivity of ZnO films by several orders of magnitude. The ability to obtain crystallized and tunable N-doped ZnO films down to 80 °C by ALD provides a critical building block to tune structural, optic and electric properties for a variety of applications. In the second part, we have designed, fabricated and characterized a new type of PENGs based on patterned nanostructures made of conical-shape ZnO pillars. First, we have used a finite element modeling to identify the optimization for the electromechanical performances of the ZnO nanowires, namely in terms of their aspect ratio and pitch. This has defined the stamps of the nano-imprint, which has then be combined with a low temperature conformal ALD to provide ZnO conical nanostructures. A thorough structural analysis of such nanostructures attests a high crystallinity, a polycrystalline growth and piezoelectric properties. This has been the necessary technological achievement for addressing in a next step functional patterned piezoelectric nanogenerators. We have produced small flexible devices with an active area of 4 x 4 mm2, using either a blocking electronic barrier with alumina, either a p-n junction with a conductive polymer (PEDOT:PSS). The different devices and architectures have then been characterized at matching impedance. The electric characterization of a device with a p-n junction exhibits a maximum output voltage of 0.2 V and a power density of 0.3 µW cm-2. An effective transverse piezoelectric coefficient value e31eff of -0.45 C m-2 is determined, which corresponds to the order of magnitude reported in literature. As a proof of concept for potential industrialization, we scaled the P-PENGs up to 20 cm² for large flexible substrates. The 3.7 billion pillars, sandwiched between electrodes, evidence the robustness of our process. The analysis of the constitutive piezoelectric equations has prompted us to pay a particular attention to an accurate setup for P-PENGs characterization, which turns out to be mandatory to compare accurately devices. For this, we setup an electromechanical actuator. Two devices with the same architecture but with different levels of N-doping are compared. Using an equivalent electrical model, the performance of the P-PENG with the higher N-doped ZnO shows a larger output voltage and power density than the device with a lower N-doping level. This comparison shows that the higher N-doping-level leads to an increase of 150 % of the power output. From this we calculate that the effective piezoelectric coefficient increases by about 60 % for a P-PENG based on higher N-doped ZnO. This latter demonstrates an energy conversion efficiency of 10 %, on top of PENG based on ZnO. [less ▲]

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See detailColonization and succession of the human gastrointestinal microbiome in neonates and infants at high risk of metabolic disease in adulthood
Wampach, Linda UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Recent studies have highlighted that the human gastrointestinal microbiome not only maintains important functions for the human host, but is also intimately linked to the development of the neonatal ... [more ▼]

Recent studies have highlighted that the human gastrointestinal microbiome not only maintains important functions for the human host, but is also intimately linked to the development of the neonatal immune system. Therefore, earliest perturbations to the initial colonization process of the human gastrointestinal tract have been suggested to result in adverse health effects later in life. While the rate of caesarean section deliveries is increasing worldwide, it still remains unclear to what extent a caesarean section delivery (CSD) or other perturbations affect the colonization and succession of the gastrointestinal microbiome and might eventually impact the immune development of a neonate. Although much research has been performed on bacterial colonization and succession to date, far less is known about the other two domains of life, archaea and eukaryotes. Furthermore, it remains unclear whether a delivery by caesarean section causes a disruption of mother-to-infant transmission of microbiota and whether this affects human physiology early on, with potentially persistent effects in later life. Over the course of this thesis, a multitude of objectives was tackled. First of all, the description of microbial communities and trends over time within the neonatal and infant gut microbiome, and the study of the early colonization and succession by members of the three domains of life. Second, the careful application of high-throughput approaches on earliest low biomass samples, the detection of functional repertoires and strains transferred from mothers to neonates, and the analysis of the immunostimulatory potential of neonatal gut microbiomes in relation to delivery mode with likely effects on the later health status. In a first study based on 15 infants and using a combination of 16S and 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR, earliest differences among the three domains of life according to delivery mode were detected as early as three days postpartum. Sequences from organisms belonging to all three domains of life were detectable in all of the collected meconium samples. The findings complement previous observations of a delay in colonization and succession of CSD infants, which likely affects not only bacteria but also archaea and microeukaryotes. Based on the observation that the first 5 days postpartum showed significant differing trends between delivery modes and considering the fact that the very first days postpartum are generally under-studied, this highlighted the importance to perform more in-depth analyses of these microbiome samples. In a next step, based on 12 mother-neonate pairs, high-resolution, metagenomic analysis of the gut microbiomes of mothers and neonates was performed to resolve the earliest colonizing microbiome. After data curation and in accordance with the observed changes in community composition for both cohorts, differences with respect to encoded metabolic functions between the microbiomes of vaginally delivered (VD) or CSD neonates as early as day 3 were observed. Several functional pathways were over-represented in VD neonates, including lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis. Genes encoding proteins involved in these functions were linked to specific strains, which were vertically transmitted from the respective mothers. Based on the candidate’s work, more follow-up work on LPS was done by a colleague with a background in immunology. Isolated LPS from faecal samples collected at day 3 had a higher immunostimulatory potential in VD neonates and cytokines measured in plasma collected at the same day presented an increased immune reaction in VD neonates. Collectively, these results suggest that vaginal delivery favours vertical transmission of specific gastrointestinal strains from mother to neonate, while caesarean section may impede this process and thereby decrease linked functional repertoires and immunostimulatory potential with potential effects on human physiology later in life. Taken together, the results obtained from both cohorts strongly indicate that maternal and neonatal factors, such as antibiotics intake or milk diet, but most importantly the delivery mode, have the potential to influence the initial neonatal bacterial, archaeal and microeukaryotic colonization of the gut microbiome shortly postpartum, with the potential to impact the neonatal immune development, which could thereby affect the later health status. [less ▲]

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See detailTuning Self-Assembly in Liquid Crystal shells: from Interfacial- to Polymer-stabilization
Noh, Junghyun UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

Liquid crystals form a subclass of soft materials which is easily influenced and deformed by a surface, an interface and the geometry. Of particular interest, in this thesis, is the confinement of liquid ... [more ▼]

Liquid crystals form a subclass of soft materials which is easily influenced and deformed by a surface, an interface and the geometry. Of particular interest, in this thesis, is the confinement of liquid crystals in shell geometry, imposing real or virtual defects that the liquid crystal cannot avoid. With the help of microfluidics, we prepare our research platform, liquid crystal shells, which contain and are surrounded by aqueous phases. In order to maintain such a shell structure in the aqueous phases, immiscible with the liquid crystal, appropriate stabilization is required. Here we explore two different pathways of interfacial stabilization and polymer stabilization and their impact on liquid crystal self-assembly. We primarily use either a polymeric or an ionic surfactant dissolving in water to stabilize shells and tune boundary conditions of shells. Depending on symmetrically or asymmetrically imposed boundary conditions, the nematic–isotropic phase transition appears as a single transi- tion or separated into two steps. We propose that the latter phenomenon can be understood as a result of an ordering-enhancing effect by surfactants. The nematic–smectic A phase transition is also investigated under varying boundary conditions. With a precise temperature control, we explore equilibrium smectic structures and introduce a new arrangement of focal conic arrays in shell geometry. Beyond stabilizing the shell from the shell exterior, but we also incorporate a photosensitive surface agent within the shell, enabling dynamic and reversible photoswitching of the liquid crystal alignment in real time. However, shells with interfacial stabilization cannot survive more than several weeks due to their intrinsic fluid interfaces. In particular, a liquid crystal shell can serve as a permeable mem- brane which lets the constituents of aqueous phases pass through, giving a significant influence on the liquid crystalline order. To tame liquid crystal self-assembly and make the shell struc- ture permanent, we use photopolymerization to stabilize the shells. With only 5% monomer, the entire configuration of each liquid crystal shell is locked and shell lifetime extends beyond several months. The liquid crystalline order is visualized on the nanoscale via the polymer network and we further demonstrate that the shell configurations can be a unique template for creating complex polymer networks. Finally a new experimental approach is introduced to making ultrathin shells and several issues on shell instability and alignment determination are addressed. [less ▲]

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See detailCape Verdean Migration Trajectories into Luxembourg: A Multisited Sociolinguistic Investigation
Cardoso Tavares, Bernardino UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

This thesis investigates Cape Verdean migration trajectories into Luxembourg from a multisited sociolinguistic point of view. Approaching migration as both emigration and immigration, the thesis examines ... [more ▼]

This thesis investigates Cape Verdean migration trajectories into Luxembourg from a multisited sociolinguistic point of view. Approaching migration as both emigration and immigration, the thesis examines sociolinguistic aspects of both aspiring and accomplished Cape Verdean migrants to Luxembourg. Based on a narrative and the material ethnography, the thesis seeks to understand migration and its inequalities from the colonial past to the current episode of globalisation. As a starting point, the thesis historicises Cape Verdean migration to Luxembourg as initially entangled in colonisation and labour policies. It has shown that, Cape Verdean movements to Luxembourg derived indirectly from Portuguese colonisation and unexpectedly meddled in Luxembourg foreign labour policies during the 1960s and 70s. This thesis explores this entanglement and unexpectedness of migration from the perspective of individual migrants. It explores what happened in between those points of departure and arrival by means of a multisited ethnographic linguistic landscape approach (MELLA). This approach consists of a material and narrative ethnography that studied traces of migrant presences and absences in public and private spaces on both ends of the trajectory. It was found that the linguistic landscape of Cape Verde contained numerous references to Luxembourg (e.g. Avenida Luxemburgo in Santo Antão) and vice versa (e.g. Epicerie Créole in Bonnevoie) and that some participants in the study, like myself, routinely went back and forth, sustaining relationships and engagements in both countries. However, findings also showed how unequal and exclusive South-North mobilities have become. It is obvious that as life in general is, South-North migration is a struggle, with language being a crucial dimension of this struggle. The thesis shows how migration is a struggle from the start in the country of origin with prospective migrants making considerable efforts and investments to travel North, often in vain, and continues to be a struggle for those who succeed to arrive North. Language duties are always demanded and migrants are constructed from a linguistic deficit perspective rather than addressing the systemic and structural conditions that contribute to unequal struggles among migrant groups and between the locals and migrants, intersecting with gender, class and race. This study provides an account of how multilingualism itself is also a struggle for Cape Verdeans, as Luxembourg’s trilingualism is often used as a gatekeeping device and as a proxy for race in a ‘colour-blind’ racism. It is my hope that this first book-length study of Cape Verdean migration to Luxembourg has opened a new empirical field of research, and will be followed by many more studies to come. [less ▲]

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See detailStructural properties of steel-concrete composite joints
Duarte da Costa, Job UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The performance of steel and concrete composite frames is influenced by the structural properties of beam-to-column composite joints. The accurate assessment of these properties constitutes therefore an ... [more ▼]

The performance of steel and concrete composite frames is influenced by the structural properties of beam-to-column composite joints. The accurate assessment of these properties constitutes therefore an important element for a realistic representation of the structural behaviour at serviceability and ultimate limit state. However, the structural joint properties are not equally covered by current design standards; analytical guidance is provided to assess the resistance and stiffness of composite joints, whereas for the rotation capacity an experimental proof is required. Due to the additional effort required to determine the rotation capacity, the global plastic analysis finds little application in the design of composite frames, resulting in a lack of efficiency and material optimization in the final design. In the present work, an analytical model to calculate the rotation capacity of composite joints is derived. Based on the knowledge developed in this research, an improvement of the current design rules for the joint stiffness is proposed. This model is based on an experimental test campaign comprising eight full-scale beamto- column joints with composite slim-floor beams. Besides, a finite element model was developed with the software Abaqus, which has been validated by the experimental tests. Numerical simulations were performed to investigate in-depth the conducted experiments and to analyse the behaviour of additional composite joints with different reinforcement properties. This research has resulted in new analytical design rules for the joint stiffness and rotation capacity. The reliability of these new design rules has been demonstrated for different joint typologies using experimental and numerical data. The development of an analytical method for the rotation capacity of composite joints allows composite beams with composite beam-to-column joints to be designed according to the global plastic analysis without need of experimental evidence. Furthermore, the improvement of the current design rules for the stiffness of composite joints induces a more accurate assessment of the action effects at serviceability and ultimate limit state. This thesis provides therefore a complete methodology to design beam-to-column composite joints. [less ▲]

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See detailConnectivity percolation and thin film growth containing rods
Dixit, Mohit UL

Doctoral thesis (2018)

The evolution of structure in thin films is usually discussed using a kinetic description. This description, mainly developed for metallic films at low temperature, may not be applicable at higher temper ... [more ▼]

The evolution of structure in thin films is usually discussed using a kinetic description. This description, mainly developed for metallic films at low temperature, may not be applicable at higher temper- atures as the film grown is close to the equilibrium where the bulk and surface thermodynamics play an essential role, e.g. in case of deposition of organic molecules. Weaker intermolecular interactions and molecular anisotropy add to the complexity of understanding the structure of a growing film. In this thesis, we analyze simplified, coarse–grained models which have potential for addressing the interplay of equilibrium phases and structure formation using Monte Carlo (MC) simulations. Anisotropic particles are modeled by rods with steric exclusion (hard–rods), mutual attractions and interactions with a substrate. First, investigations are shown for formation of the films that con- tain rods, which have mutual attractions and substrate interaction, using MC simulations and kinetic growth model. The model de- scribed by kinetic rate equations requires microscopic quantities as input parameters such as the deposition rate, diffusion constant, and attachment and detachment rates. These parameters are extracted from MC simulations, and we compare simulated growth dynamics to predictions by rate equations. It is observed that the widely ac- cepted strategy of adopting simple kinetic rate equations to specific film growth problems fails in the case of systems with orientational degrees of freedom, such as most organic semiconductor materials. Next, by analyzing the hard–rod monolayer case, the equilibrium properties are obtained which serve as a template for growth stud- ies. Additionally, the MC simulations are compared with classical density functional theory and lattice-based simulations which allow a good methodological control in order to study more complicated and detailed models. In equilibrium, a continuous “standing–up" transition is observed with or without interactive substrate, while the equilibrium properties of the monolayer dominate growth dy- namics. Lastly, and relevant to the charge transport properties of a film, we investigated connectivity percolation in suspensions of attractive rods using the same MC simulation methods mentioned above. The simulation results are then compared with connectivity percolation theory. [less ▲]

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