CominLabs is an Excellence Center (Laboratoire d'Excellence from the Investissements d'Avenir program of the French government). CominLabs gathers ten research labs from Bretagne and Nantes in the area of telecommunications, internet, and over-the-top services with an emphasis on the medical sector. CominLabs represent a work force of about 500 researchers and is funded at the (modest) level of 1.4M€ per year by the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) and the regions Bretagne and (to a lesser extend) Pays-de-Loire.

In this letter, we wish to inform you about how CominLabs is run, how you can join and benefit, what is the related agenda, who supports CominLabs and how funds are spent.


December 2012 issue #1


Welcome to the 1st issue of CominLabs Newsletter!

CominLabs is an Excellence Center (Laboratoire d'Excellence from the Investissements d'Avenir program of the French government). CominLabs gathers ten research labs from Bretagne and Nantes in the area of telecommunications, internet, and over-the-top services with an emphasis on the medical sector. CominLabs represent a work force of about 500 researchers and is funded at the (modest) level of 1.4M€ per year by the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) and the regions Bretagne and (to a lesser extend) Pays-de-Loire.

CominLabs fosters activities in research, education, and innovation, with an emphasis on the first aspect. Considering its limited level of funding, CominLabs must focus its funds on specific activities. CominLabs aims at establishing itself as a research community creating its own added value. It has decided not to be yet another mini-agency, though. CominLabs' motto is illustrated on Figure 1.


By this provocative and slightly exaggerated statement, CominLabs wishes to express that bureaucracy (better named as "burrocracy" after Spanish language) must be limited to its minimum: no proposal, no deadline, no spam, no reporting – compare with the running of EU projects. This is reflected in our running of the lab, and particularly in the decision to develop CominWeb as a cooperative platform, with CominTogether its associated social network.

In this letter, we wish to inform you about how CominLabs is run, how you can join and benefit, what is the related agenda, who supports CominLabs and how funds are spent.

For you to get an understanding of what we are doing, we provide a short description of the first series of projects and we tell you about our vision of how such a lab should get run using the modern technologies of cooperative platforms and social communities.

Contents – Issue # 1


Working with us





Please find the complete Newsletter Here.


May 2013 Issue#2


May 2013 – Issue #2

Progress of CominLabs

So far 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 have been very fruitful for CominLabs.
Eight research projects were selected in 2012 and four more research projects were approved by the Steering Committee in its April 19th meeting. A general comment on the process of preparing and selecting research projects is found in the "Working with us" section of the Newsletter. The newly selected projects are described in the "Research" Section.
The education chapter of CominLabs has started in two ways. Firstly, Colin de la Higuera was approved as the new head of this chapter. Colin is now preparing the education agenda of CominLabs, which will be presented in the next issue of the Newsletter.
In 2012 we spent a great deal of effort in defining and refining the objectives of the CominWeb cooperative platform and its approach. A first set of experiments has been defined with results expected by the CominLabs week early June. Corresponding advances are reported in the "Community" Section of this Newsletter.
The First CominLabs Week will be held June 3-5, 2013 at Inria-Rennes. The detailed program can be found in "Events" Section of this Newsletter. This event will be the first major event of CominLabs. First activities and results of CominLabs projects and the CominWeb platform will be presented. Our International Advisory Committee, IAC, (who was involved in the selection of CominLabs' projects) will attend. A Steering Committee (CA in French) will be held with the participation of the IAC, where strategy and future directions will be presented and discussed. In particular, the seeding role of working groups will be revisited. From this event, an overall picture of CominLabs and its impact will emerge. This will presented and reported in the next Newsletter.

Contents – Issue # 2

Working with us







May 2015 Issue#3


May 2015 - Issue #3


Progress of CominLabs

CominLabs is a Labex involving ten partner labs distributed over Brittany-Nantes, gathering about 500 researchers. Its scientific scope ranges from optics and electronics to over-the-Web applications, through software, multimedia and ICT for health. Due to this distributed nature and wide scientific scope, CominLabs does not distribute funds to the partners through PhD or master grants. It rather supports specific actions aligned with its strategic program for research, education, and innovation.

Following an initial brainstorming period of 9 months through working groups attached to the CominLabs strategic areas, 25 research and education projects, including the CominWeb platform, are now in operation as the result of six successive project calls in the period 2012-2015. Through its leadership and International Advisory Committee, CominLabs seeds, selects, monitors and manages its projects, way beyond what a traditional funding program does, thus offering a novel and unparalleled service to its research and education community.

Two issues of CominLabs Days were held in 2013 and 2015 (respectively, 150 participants and our international experts).

CominLabs also organized a joint workshop with the three Labex Lebesgue, MER and CAMI, and the two  IRT b<>com and Jules Verne.

CominLabs targets high-risk transdisciplinary research. One projects gathers specialists from EEG in medicine and from coding theory aiming at validating a novel mental information theory. In another project, antenna designers cooperate with computer scientists in ambient computing at developing new robust RFID tags with corresponding application infrastructure. A third project is developing a system to develop centralized collaborations in the million-plus scale thanks to fundamental advances on data coherency.

These are only a few samples of exciting research that would not exist without CominLabs. Two projects involve Labex MER and Lebesgue. Relations have been established with SATT Ouest-Valorisation and IRT b<>com.

Working with us

CominLabs projects: Agenda for 2015

Principles and Process

CominLabs has in its core priorities to launch research projects with the following features: 1/ projects shall be challenging and risky, 2/ projects involve atypical collaborations involving people from disciplines that otherwise would not naturally meet. As an example, interesting team configurations for consideration include {computer science, electronics and/or photonics}, which are communities that are traditionally kept separate, at least in France.

The preparation of a project must entirely focus on its scientific meat: invention or innovation versus state of the art must be explain with scientific and technical arguments; how the applicants consider addressing the projects objectives must be substantiated with technical arguments complemented with explanations on why the applicants are qualified. Other aspects of a proposal that are asked in traditional funding programs (benefit for EU, gender, IP, financial annex…) are not considered essential.

The process of preparing a project is tuned accordingly. Projects are generally born from a brainstorming activity that is informally organized by volunteer CominLabs researchers. Once initial ideas have been identified, they are turned into a project proposal thanks to a 3-month phase of open discussions and exchanges involving the project participants (of course), plus members of the leadership of CominLabs, and the Internal Scientific Committee, and anyone who would be approved and accepts to sign an NDA. This phase serves to retarget the project, complement the consortium if needed, and shape it by bringing the main parts of the proposal to its desired level of quality.

Project selection is proposed by the IAC through a remote discussion session very much like the job of a Program Committee of a conference.

Agenda for the 2015 campaign

  • September  – November : open session for the elaboration of future projects. Drafts of proposals  are openly discussed (a wiki is open) during this period. All operating committees of CominLabs (head, Burex, ISC) are involved in discussing these drafts; the discussion is open to anyone subject to NDA.
  • End of  November : competing projects are officially submitted
  • November  – February: the IAC acts as a conference PC (using EasyChair) and provides an assessment of the projects as well as a recommendation; all this is collected in an assessment report for the Steering board to decide upon the selection.
  • Mid February: selection of new projects



Past events

CominLabs    has  established  the  CominLabs  Days,  which  are  open  days  for  the  scientific  community.  Two  issues  have  been  organized  so  far  in  June  2013   and  March  2015  with  the  participation  of  International Advisory Committee (IAC) members.

A special event, called “journées Ouest-IRT-Labex”, was organized by us in Dec. 2013, where three other Labex (MER, Lebesgue, CAMI)  and two IRTs (b<>com and Jules Verne) participated. As a consequence, joint research projects have since then been launched with MER and Lebesgue, and one with b<>com.

Albert Benveniste was invited to panels regarding the Labex program at CNRS-headquarters and the GRETSI 2013 (National Conference in Signal & Image processing, 480 participants).

In the framework of  TEPN-project and CominLabs chair, a MoU was signed between Supelec  and  the  Zhejiang  University  in  China,  and  the  3rd   International  Workshop  Next-GWiN  on  Next generation Green Wireless Networks was organized in October 2014, Rennes, with 135 registered  participants,  co-chaired  by  Honggang  Zhang,  CominLabs  chair,  and  Jacques  Palicot,  a  member  of  TEPN CominLabs project. 

Upcoming Events for 2015:

            + June  2015

Hearing  of the Labex by an international jury in June 2, 2015, in Paris

            +June  2015

A seminar « SHS et numérique » will be organized in Rennes on June 24, 2015.

            +Campaign  2015

See “working with us”



The CominWeb platform is built on top of Liferay, a framework for constructing Web portals, collaborative platforms, and social networks on a single platform. CominWeb hosts the CominLabs web site. The current version dated Jan 2015 has the following features.

CominWeb offers advanced search services (LookinLabs) relying on big data technologies, see Section 3 for details.

CominWeb offers an intranet with the following services, globally or for each CominLabs group, all services stemming directly from Liferay:

  • A document warehouse

  • A wiki

  • A Readme, a FAQ, a forum

  • Public pages for reporting activities

For this version, access is managed by using the classical techniques offered by Liferay, namely roles and assignment of rights to roles. People are manually registered together with their role. Registering CominLabs people was cumbersome. Updates and modifications would require a full time web master, something that we want to avoid.

Future plans for 2015 and beyond

  • Exploiting user feedback

Users of CominWeb will provide us with feedback. Users will consist of 1) the CominLabs members, 2) external people, 3) the International Advisory Committee (IAC, see the description of the governance of CominLabs) in charge of selecting the CominLabs projects and evaluating them, and, finally 4) the PIA/ANR evaluation committee, in charge of evaluating all Labex of France (first evaluation in June 2015).

  • A system of tags for the management of CominWeb

Our need is to be able to grant roles and qualify items in warehouses adaptively, depending on varying interests such as learned from social activities. The concepts and tools offered by Liferay are too low level for performing this. We therefore plan to develop a more flexible platform architecture by relying on a unique notion of tag. Tags are XML documents acting as meta-data for qualifying both users and items in warehouses. Tags will be translated into specific Liferay roles depending on the context and the same will hold for tags attached to documents or items. Tags can then be learned from social activities and vary adaptively.

  • Enhancing the LookinLabs service

The following enhancements are planned:

* Clustering of the names of researchers returned by the competency warehouse

* Exploring the use of semantic based correlation engines.

* Exploiting user feedback.

* Introduction of the concept of “diversity” in search results

* Development and integration of scientific articles recommendation widget based on HAL RSS streams.

  • Exploring how the Activity Monitor could be developed
  • Automatic activity report


November 2013: LIMAH selected

Available multimedia content is rapidly increasing in scale and diversity, yet today, multimedia data remain mostly unconnected, i.e., with no explicit links between related fragments. The project investigate multimedia content linking, where linking  refers to the creation of explicit and meaningful links between multimedia documents, or fragments of documents. While the idea of linked media fragments can be  traced back to Memex [Bush, 1945], automatic authoring of links has been mostly disregarded so far.

The key idea of LIMAH consists in exploring hypergraph structures for multimedia collections, instantiating meaningful links between fragments of multimedia documents, where links reflect particular content-based proximity—similar content, thematic proximity, opinion expressed, answer to a question, etc.  Meaningfulness encompasses multiple facets (e.g.,relevance of the links, exploitability by users, added-value on core tasks) and will be investigated in a number of ways, from objective measures on core tasks to user acceptability and satisfaction on key pilot use-cases, along with prospective concerns on the evolution of media consumption modes and of laws.

In a nutshell, LIMAH develops scientific and methodological basis to organize multimedia collections as hypergraphs combining links of different natures and evaluates the impact of structured collections on usages and technology in a global perspective encompassing ICT, law and human science. Exploiting and developing further techniques targeting pairwise comparison of multimedia content, LIMAH focuses on two main questions. How to automatically build an hypergraph which provides exploitable links in selected use cases?  How collections with explicit links modify usage of multimedia data in all aspects, from a technology point of view as well as from a user point of view?  These questions will be investigated via two complementary use-cases, namely, navigation in news data and learning with online courses.

Figure 1. A schematic view of the core perimeter of LIMAH


LIMAH builds upon three strongly intertwined pillars: collection structuring and link authoring; fine grain language analysis; acceptability and usages. The consortium covers all of these aspects, encompassing all issues from raw data analysis to user experience and legal issues, with specialists in multimedia and language technology (IRISA, LINA), in cognitive and ergonomic psychology (CRPCC), in information and communication science (PREFics) and in law (IODE). Leveraging  technological aspects and usage aspects from the standpoint of law and human science to apprehend linked media content globally also aims at developing  a long term vision of the linked media world.

Consortium: CNRS/IRISA, Université de  Nantes/LINA, Université de Rennes 2/CRPCC and PREFics, Telecom Bretagne/IODE

Contact: Guillaume Gravier

February  2014: six  projects selected


One of the most critical challenges of the ITRS overall design technology (2010) is fault-tolerant computation. The increase in integration density and the requirement of low-energy consumption can only be sustained through low-powered components, with the drawback of a looser robustness against transient errors. In the near future, electronic gates to process information will be inherently unreliable.

In this project, we want to address this problem with a bottom-up approach, starting from an existing application (a GPS receiver) and adding some redundant mechanisms to allow the GPS receiver to be tolerant to transient errors due to low voltage supply.

Our objective is to produce an ASIC with two versions of the application: a standard GPS receiver and a hardened GPS receiver (a simple L1 band GPS receiver). Our ambition is to decrease by a factor of 4 the energy of the hardened GPS receiver thanks to a very low power supply voltage while keeping an acceptable degradation of the quality of service provided by the device (i.e. mean duration from a "cold start' to a position, precision of the measure)

To interpret this in terms of world energy savings, we assume on the order of 10 billion GPS receiver units in the world in the near future (a conservative hypothesis), each working 1% of the time. Each mW saved with fault tolerant design will give a global saving of 10^-6 (1 mW express in KW) x 10^10 (number of GPS) X 10^-2 (rate of utilisation) x 24  x 356 (number of hours in a year) =  0.88 x 10^6 KW.h per year in the world. Note also that GPS are mainly used in application that implies mobility. Mobile devices don't have direct access to powerline energy and should use batteries and/or produce directly its own electrical energy (energy harvesting devices). In both cases, the cost and the environmental impact to provide energy is high.

During this project, we will develop knowledge at several levels: the effect of low voltage at transistor level, application of robust non-conventional arithmetic, the downstream impact of gate level errors on arithmetic and functional operation, refinement of high level specification (reliability and quality of service) to low-level arithmetic and functional requirements. Measurement of the ASIC product will allow us to test the proposed methods on a real design case and provide very useful feedback.

The RELIASIC project will trigger a scientific community in the area of fault-tolerant computation for very low power processing with the focus ``Energy and resource efficiency in ICT'' of the Labex CominLab. As a longer research perspective, the consortium wants to capitalize on this project by extending the knowledge obtained with the RELIASIC bottom-up approach to define new computation methods, new design methodology and tools for fault-tolerant computation.

Consortium: Telecom Bretagne/LABSTICC, Université de Bretagne Sud/LABTSICC, Université de Rennes 1/IRISA, Université de Bretagne Occidentale/LABTSICC, INSA Rennes/ETIR, Université de Nantes/IETR

Contact : Jean-Philippe Diguet, Emmanuel Boutillon, Sebastien Pillement, Emmanuel Casseau, Fabrice Seguin, Catherine Dezan  


3D integration in the ultra deep submicron domain means the implementation of billions of transistors or of hundreds of cores on a single chip with the need to ensure a large number of exchanges between cores, and the obligation to limit the power consumption.

Focusing on system integration rather than transistor density, allows for both functional and technological diversification in integrated systems. The functional diversification allows for non-digital functionalities to migrate from the board level into the (on-)chip level. This allows for integration of new technologies that enable high performance, low power, high reliability, low cost, and high design productivity.

Use of Optical Network-on-Chip (ONoC) promises to deliver significantly increased bandwidth, increased immunity to electromagnetic noise, decreased latency, and decreased power consumption while wavelength routing and Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM)  contribute to the valuable properties of optical interconnect by permitting low contention or even contention-free routing. WDM allows for multiple signals to be transmitted simultaneously, facilitating higher throughput.

Individual realization of CMOS compatible optical components, such as, waveguides , modulators , and detectors  lets the community foresee that such integration may be possible in the next ten years.

The aim of the project is therefore to investigate new optical interconnect solutions to enhance by 2 to 3 magnitude orders energy efficiency and data rate of on-chip interconnect in the context of a many-core architecture targeting both embedded and high-performance computing. Moreover, we envisage taking advantage of 3D technologies for designing a specific photonic layer suitable for a flexible and energy efficient high-speed optical network on chip (ONoC).

Consortium: INRIA/team CAIRN, Université de Rennes 1/ FOTON, Insa Rennes/ FOTON

Contact : Olivier Sentieys, Olivier Durand, Pascal Besnard


Electroencephalography (EEG) from scalp potentials is of crucial importance both as a diagnostic and brain imaging tool and as the key technology for developing Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs). However, the fundamental difference between these two application scenarios is that while in imaging/diagnostics, EEG-related computations can be potentially done offline, i.e. after the EEG scalp measuring, for BCI applications the majority of EEG imaging computation must be done runtime since an immediate feedback is required. As a consequence, this rules out some powerful and highly resolving, but computational expensive techniques that can be used in EEG brain imaging, but become unaffordable in a BCI contest. This is highly lamentable and unfortunate given that higher resolution imaging has been proved to give rise to better performing BCIs.

SABRE will focus on filling this gap and in making available runtime techniques that are usually affordable only by relying on offline computations. The idea to achieve this is based on a double-sided investigation strategy:

  • On one hand SABRE will investigate innovative EEG solution methods that will operate in linear-instead-of-cubic complexity with respect to the physical degrees of freedom. This will already result in huge savings in terms of computational time and complexity. 
  • On the other hand these EEG solution methods will further be empowered and speeded-up by ad-hoc, transistor-level, implementations of their key algorithmic operations.

In other words, in a synergy between a computational and on-chip hardware research expertise, a completely new family of fully-hardware-integrated, new computational EEG imaging methods will be developed that are expected to speed up the imaging process of an EEG device of several orders of magnitude in real case scenarios. This will be the enabling technology for runtime applications of highly resolving EEG approaches in BCI.

This notwithstanding, this project will implement and validate the new EEG technology within a cutting edge BCI environment. A leading research expertise in the field will investigate and develop an ad-hoc, but user-ready, BCI framework that will ensure convincing evidences of practical relevance of the new EEG technology at each and every stage of its development. In other words the final outcome of this project will be a fully functioning, deeply innovative, and user-ready BCI technology that will be entirely and convincingly validated both as of performance and applicability in cutting-edge BCI real case scenarios.

Consortium: Telecom Bretagne, INRIA/ Hybrid Team

Contact: Francesco Andriulli, Anatole Lecuyer



Efficient and robust public key cryptography, or asymmetric cryptography, is of major importance for security and privacy in many applications such as communications, e-commerce, control access, cloud computing, smart-phones, body area networks, TV boxes, Internet of Things, etc. In the past, RSA was the predominant solution for asymmetric cryptography. Since a few years, elliptic curves cryptography (ECC) is now the main standard with more efficient and less power consuming implementations than RSA for a similar theoretical security level. Very recent theoretical results show that hyperelliptic curve cryptography (HECC) is becoming a more efficient solution (on theoretical evaluations). Efficient arithmetic computations is a key element for hardware  implementation of HECC systems. Arithmetic has an important role to play in providing algorithms robust against physical attacks (e.g. analysis of the power consumption, electromagnetic radiations or computation timings). Currently, there are only a very few hardware implementations of HECC (without any open source availability).


In this project, we study and prototype efficient arithmetic algorithms for hyperelliptic curve cryptography for hardware implementations (on FPGA circuits). We study new advanced arithmetic algorithms and representations of numbers for efficient and secure implementations of HECC in hardware. We develop a library of efficient and secure arithmetic units in hardware for HECC distributed as open source hardware code. We also design a fast and secure hardware implementation of HECC. To the best of our knowledge, there is neither similar library nor crypto-processor freely accessible for HECC implementation currently. We hope providing open source hardware code will help us to launch academic and industrial collaborations in the future. Another objective is the evaluation of trade-offs between performances (speed, internal code size, silicon cost and energy) and security (robustness against passive and active attacks).  Those results may be used to guide designers during the specification of security applications (for future academic and industrial collaborations). Finally, we will perform an intensive security evaluation against physical attacks.

Consortium: CNRS/IRISA IRMAR/ Labex Lebesgue

Contact : Arnaud Tisserand


Sensors for HEalth Recording and Physical Activity Monitoring SHERPAM

Transmission technologies available to mobile users have improved a lot during the last two decades, and such technologies offer interesting propects for monitoring the health of people anytime and anywhere. Cellular networks (e.g. UMTS/3G) now cover most densely populated areas, but in spite of the efforts deployed by telecommunication operators to deploy their networks there remain many "white areas" where connectivity is not guaranteed for mobile users. Besides cellular networks are designed to support downlink traffic primarily (from the network to the subscriber), while only low bitrates are possible on the uplink. This is a disadvantage for health monitoring, which requires to use mostly the uplink for data transmission.

Private, corporate, and community Wi-Fi hotspots have also proliferated in our daily environment. Unlike cellular networks, Wi-Fi networks offer symmetric high-rate links. Their coverage is somewhat limited, but the density of Wi-Fi hotspots --and especially community hotspots-- in urban and peri-urban areas is now such that a mobile device can often choose between several hotspots at any time.

The originality of project SHERPAM is to rely simultaneously and in an agile way on both kinds of wireless networks in order to ensure the transmission of biometric data collected on mobile users. The transmission system developed in project SHERPAM shall run without ever limiting the mobility of these users, which should be allowed to live their daily as usual (at home, at work, etc.) while their health status is being monitored. The system should therefore be able to switch dynamically and transparently from one network to another as a user moves, but it should also be able to tolerate the frequent connectivity disruptions that are likely to occur when the user enters areas that are not satisfactorily covered by any network. In such circumstances the system shall guarantee that no data is lost, and that all data are ultimately transmitted to a monitoring center to be recorded and/or analyzed there.

This project aims:

  1. To develop a new generation of monitoring system based on a smartphone that would allow people 
monitoring at home but also in the street and communication with the patient and external sensors. The issues are: 1) the definition of transmissions between sensors and boxes; 2) the management of communication networks, 3) the patient's and information system data management and 4) the conception of safe and secured data transmission.
  2. To improve the physiopathological follow-up of heart failure patients (HF) who could not beneficiate from cardiac resynchronization implantable therapy (clinical purposes) ; improve the recognition, quantification of Physical Activity (PA) and the estimation of energy expenditure (EE) associated with PA in healthy subjects ; and assess "in situ" the walking ability of patients with peripheral artery disease (clinical purposes). The output should monitor the breakdown in some patient's parameters (walking speed and distance, exercise intensity...).
  3. To select and take into account a physiological and actimetric sensors network for physical activity quantification. Indeed, it is important to first select relevant sensors and parameters with respect to the application intended by Sherpam.
  4. To develop multi-dimensional tracking algorithms to prevent patients’ adverse events by using the communicative properties developed in this project.
  5. Patients and medical staff acceptance and approval related to these new technologies that could transform patient’s care.

Consortium: ENS Rennes/ IRISA, INSERM/LTSI, Université de Rennes 1 /LTSI, Université de Rennes 2/MSHB, Université de Bretagne Sud/IRISA

Contact: Guy Carrault, Patrice Quinton, Alain Somat, Fréderic Guidec


Google Play offers more than 800'000 applications (apps), and this number increases every day. Google play users have performed more than 25 billion app downloads. These applications vary from games to music, video, books, tools…  Unfortunately, each of these app is an attack vector on Android.  The number of malicious applications (malwares) discovered during the first six months of 2013 exceeds the number of malwares discovered during the 2010 to 2012 period,  more than 700 thousand malicious and risky apps were found in the wild.

In this context, we propose the Kharon  project to stem the progression of Android malwares.   We propose to combine dynamic monitoring and static analysis to compute a behavioral signature of Android malware. Behavioral signatures are helpful to understand how malware infect the devices and how they spread information in the Android operating system. Static analysis is essential to understand which particular event or callback triggers malware payload.

In the project we aim to imagine and develop a malware scanning service that will permit users to analyze their own apps. This service will be available on a online platform that will also deliver previously computed signatures of known malware.

Consortium: INRIA/ Celtique and Cidre team

Contact: Thomas Jensen

February 2015: 3 projects selected

Neural Communication

There is surprisingly little literature on the promising connection between information theory, in particular coding theory and digital communications, and brain signal processing. The CominLabs “Neural Coding” project laid the foundation for the first joint work linking mental information theory and brain electrical signal through ElectroEncephaloGraphy (EEG). This collaboration allowed mixing top-down and bottom-up approaches for better analysis of signals measured on human brains. This great success paved the way for many open questions, which this project entitled “Neural Communication” aims at exploring. The team NeuCod led by Claude Berrou in lab-STICC (Télécom Bretagne) and the team SESAME led by Fabrice Wendling at LTSI (University of Rennes 1) want to pursue their joint work and push towards new aspects. Listed from those closest to the signal to most abstract ones, these aspects include heterogeneous approaches to signal processing based on graphs, connections between digital communication and information in the brain and dynamic models for mental information. “Neural Communication” does not propose a substitution for the “Neural Coding” project, but rather aims at giving new dimensions to this fruitful collaboration.
Recently, the collaboration between the two previously cited teams led to exciting results showing that EEG techniques can lead to very good time resolution (of the order of several milliseconds). With this accuracy, it is possible to observe the processing of information as a set of active graphs going from brain regions to others. These interpretations are new and take full benefit of EEG techniques that allow observing correlation between sources, even if those have limited amplitude, contrary to BOLD or simple source localization methods. The automatic dynamic detection of changes in correlation graphs could lead to important valorisations such as tracking brain dynamics at
millisecond time scale. This motivation converges with that of adding processing to the static mental information theory developed at Télécom Bretagne.In one sentence, the “Neural Communication” project aims at exploring the dynamic aspects of mental information theory at the millisecond scale.

Consortium and contact:

- Télécom-Bretagne, Lab-STICC: Vincent Gripon, Claude Berrou and Olivier
- University of Rennes I, LTSI: Fabrice Wendling and Mahmoud Hassan
- B-Com: Jean-Marc Diverrez
- Orange Labs: Rozenn Nicol and Lætitia Gros

"The project «Neural  Communication" intends to  be the natural continuation of the project "Neural Coding" which started in November 2012 and will finish in October 2015, in the framework of CominLabs. The promoters of this  new  project  are  convinced  that  the  results  obtained  so  far  about  the  materialization  of  mental  are  sufficiently sound to tackle also the question of cerebral communication.


This  project  aims  at  exploring  novel  statistical  and  stochastic  methods  to  address  the  emulation, reconstruction  and    forecast  of  fine-scale  upper  ocean  dynamics.  From  the  recent  advances  in  the theoretical understanding, modeling and simulation of upper ocean dynamics along with the mass of data routinely  available  to  observe  the  ocean  evolution,  our  key  objective  is  to  investigate  new  tools  and methods for the calibration and implementation of novel sound and efficient oceanic dynamical models. In this respect, the emphasis will be given to stochastic frameworks to encompass multi-scale/multi-source approaches  and  benefit  from  the  available  observation  and  simulation  massive  data.  The  addressed scientific  questions  constitute  basic  research  issues  at  the  frontiers  of  several  disciplines.  It  crosses  in particular advanced data analysis approaches, physical oceanography and stochastic representations. To develop  such  an  interdisciplinary  initiative,  we  gather  a  set  of  research  groups  associated  with  these different scientific domains, which have already proven for several years their capacities to interact and collaborate  on  topics  related  to  oceanic  data  and  models.  This  project  will  place  Brittany  with  an innovative and leading expertise at the frontiers of Computer Science, Statistics and Oceanography. This transdisciplinary research initiative is expected to resort to significant advances challenging the current thinking  in  computational  oceanography. 


Labex Cominlabs: Télécom Bretagne/ LabSTICC, INRIA/ Fluminance team

Labex Lebesgue: Université de Bretagne Occidentale/LMBA, Université de Bretagne Sud/LMBA, Université de Rennes 1/IRMAR

Labex Mer: IFREMER/CERSAT, Université de Bretagne Occidentale/LPO

Contact: Ronan Fablet, Etienne Mémin


The last decade of cyber defense has shown that for every security vulnerability discovered and patched, attackers find multiple alternatives to overcome these protection mechanisms. One way to increase the security level of computer systems is to rely on both software and hardware mechanisms in order to allow a strong analysis of potential threats. In this context, the HardBlare project proposes a software hardware co-design methodology to ensure that security properties are preserved all along the execution of the system but also during files storage. Such an approach allows designer to build an efficient and reliable Trusted Computing Base. The general context of the HardBlare project is to address Dynamic Information Flow Control (DIFC) that generally consists in attaching marks to denote the type of information that are saved or generated within the system. These marks are then propagated when the system evolves and information flow control is performed in order to guarantee a safe execution and storage within the system. This approach can also be used to understand the behavior of existing vulnerable or malicious applications. Thus, DIFC could be used to detect intrusions at runtime, to help security analysts to find vulnerabilities or to study malware.

On a practical point of view, security solutions based on hardware and OS modifications are hardly adopted. This is for a large part due to the cost of these hardware modifications but also to the cost induced by the redevelopment of the whole software stack to be adapted to this specific hardware.

To tackle this problem, the HardBlare project builds on top of a standard software and hardware platform. The goal is to make no modification of the main processor core and to implement hardware DIFC in a dedicated coprocessor using FPGA. Standard existing OS (like Linux) will be considered to execute existing applications. The HardBlare project relies on a precise hardware assisted and language-level monitoring combined with OS-level support to handle persistency. We believe that the use of a dedicated hardware will drastically reduce the overhead induced by a precise DIFC, which limits the adoption of such approach. Our goal is to produce a highly secure software hardware computing platform, featuring:

  • A flexible approach where both software and hardware security rules can be updated dynamically in a per application basis or in order to update security rules when new threats are discovered.
  • A large set of security rules with variable tag sizes and formats depending on the requirements.
  • A persistent tag management feature relying on OS support.
  • A cooperation mechanism between software static analysis and hardware DIFC to be able to monitor different types of information flow and so to address both confidentiality and integrity.
  • A complete prototype of the system on a SoC platform that combines an ASIC main processor (ARM) coupled with an FPGA, such as the Xilinx Zynq family.

Consortium :

The consortium involves the following people and teams:

Contact: Pascal Cotret

Education project

The CoCo project was launched in October, 2013,

The COCo project uses and further develops current research in various domains like video annotation,  human  computer  interface,  user  activity  analysis  and  machine  learning.  One  work  in progress  is  the  multimodal  alignment.  It  aims  at  aligning  the  content  of  an  article  with  its presentation. 

The COCo project  has conducted experiments in:

 •  Video  Course/Lecture  Enrichment:  several  courses  and  seminars  were  recorded  and  are available  on  the  Web.  They  are  enriched  with  the  corresponding  slides  (that  serve  as  navigation shortcuts as well) and with the topics that were covered. The interface also provides the possibility to take your own notes, which are synchronized with the recording.  

• Emergence of a Scenarized Seminar: during the CNRS summer school "MOOC and EIAH", we had the opportunity to organize a workshop regarding video annotations as a way to prepare the scenarization  of  a  MOOC.  About  50  people  exchanged  knowledge  and  opinions  through  live annotation  (using  the  tool  COCoNotes  Live)  of  Marcel  Lebrun's  conference.  The  results  with  the synchronization of the recording are available on the Web.

• Leveraging Annotations in MOOCs: a MOOC concerning digital addiction, organized by the University of  Nantes and the CHU of Nantes, is currently ongoing. During the weekly webinars, the tool  COCoNotes  Live  will  be  used  to  allow  participants  to  comment,  ask  questions,  etc.  After  the webinar, participants will be able to annotate the video and use direct pointers to video fragments in EdX forums.



 The  overall  governance  of  the  CominLabs  is  organized  in  two  levels:  strategic  level  and operational level, as represented in the Figure below.

The  Steering  Board  (SB)  collects  the  representatives  of  the  15  institutions  involved  in  the CominLabs.  The  heads  of  the  10  partners  (research  labs)  participating  to  CominLabs  are  invited members of the SB, and so are representatives of the Bretagne and Pays-de-la-Loire regions. The SB approves  the  scientific  strategy,  roadmap  and  funding  plan  for  the  considered  period,  including project selection and funding. The SB is chaired by the CTO of Université Européenne de Bretagne (UEB), formerly Christian Roux and now Yvan Lagadeuc. The SB meets two times a year.

 The  International  Advisory  Committee  (IAC)  is  an  original  and  important  body  of  9 international experts. Its composition can be found at

The IAC advises CominLabs leadership for the selection of the new projects and activities funded by CominLabs,  and  evaluates  the  progresses of  these projects.  The  IAC  is  a  key instrument  for  us;  it requires a significant involvement from our experts. 

 The Executive Board is  a  small  group of senior scientific  colleagues  helping  the  directors. The  Internal  Scientific Committee (ISC) is a larger group of CominLabs scientists (about 20 people), which contributes to brain-storming  activities  regarding  research  plans, the  seeding  and  preparation  of  future  projects, and assists the head in monitoring ongoing projects.


Head change

The  Head  of  CominLabs  consisted  of  Albert  Benveniste  and  Dominique  Massaloux  until March 2014, and consists now of Patrick Bouthemy, Ramesh Pyndiah and Claude Jard.

May 2016 issue#4

May 2015 - Issue #4


CominLabs at a glance


CominLabs is a Labex involving ten partner labs distributed over Brittany-Nantes, gathering about 500 researchers. Its scientific scope ranges from optics and electronics to over-the-Web applications, with a focus on networks, security and privacy, connected things, the social Web, ICT for health, multimedia, ICT & social sciences, ICT for education. Due to this distributed nature and wide scientific scope, CominLabs decided to support specific actions aligned with its strategic program for research, education, and innovation. Thus, CominLabs runs a program of highly ambitious multi-lab and multi-disciplinary projects. Thirty four research and education projects, including the CominWeb platform, are now in operation as the result of eight  successive project calls in the period 2012-2016. Several projects involve Labex MER and Labex Centre Henri Lebesgue (maths). Through its leadership and International Advisory Committee, CominLabs seeds, selects, monitors and manages its projects, way beyond what a traditional funding program does, thus offering a novel and unparalleled service to its research and education community. The second edition  of CominLabs Days was held in March 2015 with more than  200 attendees including our international experts. CominLabs activities benefit from a high-quality cooperative platform (CominWeb) and maintains a well-documented web site. CominLabs can thus be seen as an exploratory structure about how to manage networked research. Relations have been established with SATT Ouest-Valorisation and IRT b<>com.

 Two first research projects ended fall 2015. POSEIDON  project dealt with protection (security policies) of outsourced or mutualized data and content, with an application to cloud and peer-to-peer networks. PREDICTIVE project was concerned with predictive models for patient-personalized treatment management, and adaptive radiotherapy for prostate cancer. These are samples of exciting research that would not exist without CominLabs.


CominLabs Activities


Pasts events


June 2, 2015 Hearing of the Labex by an international jury

On June 2, 2015, Cominlabs was heared by an international jury in Paris for the mid-term evaluation of the 171 labex managed by ANR. CominLabs organization, activities and achievements were presented by Albert Benveniste, Patrick Bouthemy and Ramesh Pyndiah. Based on this hearing and the mid-term report sent on March 2015, the international jury for the ICT domain issued its evaluation report in July 2015. The evaluation was clearly positive: “a number of interdisciplinary projects of high international quality”, “no specific weaknesses have been identified”, “the research community landscape in Bretagne has been deeply changed”, “increasing the chances of sustainability though the formation of tracks is promising”.  The jury recommendations are in line with our roadmap for 2016-19 regarding innovation and industrial collaboration, education and international activities. As for the jury comment on of the uselessness of developing yet another MOOC platform, there was probably a lack of presentation or explanation. CominLabs does not develop its own MOOC platforms, but, on the contrary, the partners of the  Cominlabs education projects have established contacts with national platforms (France Digital University –FUN in French-, ClassCode, Eduthèque Portal of the Ministry of Education) with a view to transfer technological modules realized in these projects.


June 24,  seminar « SHS et numérique » organized in Rennes

On June 24, 2015, a one-day workshop on “Social Sciences and Digital Sciences” was organized by Eric Jamet, Maryline Boizard and Patrick Bouthemy in Inria Rennes premises. The overall goal was to strengthen the involvement of social-sciences research teams in CominLabs and their interactions with ICT research teams, to encourage proposals for the 2016 call for projects. The workshop gathered 50 attendees, included 7 presentations and time for exchange. Addressed topics were related to ergonomics, psychology, law, economics, and uses of digital technology.


January 5, Workshop oranized by Yann Busnel and Patrick Bouthemy in collaboration with DGA-MI and ENSAI

On January 5, 2016, a one-day workshop was organized by Yann Busnel and Patrick Bouthemy in collaboration with DGA-MI and ENSAI in Inria Rennes premises. The overall goal was to cross-fertilize maths, computer science, data processing aspects and application needs related to big data analysis and management, with a view to build one or more proposals to forthcoming calls. The workshop gathered 30 attendees, 12 CominLabs teams were represented. It ended up with the launch of a proposal to ASTRID call (ANR-DGA), and possibly of two working groups.

Upcoming events for 2016


FADEx (French-American Doctoral Exchange)

CominLabs will participate in the FADEx (French-American Doctoral Exchange) event, devoted this year to the scientific domain of cyber-physical systems (CPS) and jointly organized in Grenoble, Paris and Rennes on July 4-8, 2016. Patrick Bouthemy will present CominLabs on July 6 in Paris. CominLabs has provided financial support for this event. See here for more information.


CominLabs Days

The next CominLabs Days will be held on November 28-29-30 in Inria Rennes premises.

CominWeb plateform

The CominWeb CominWeb platform is built on top of Liferay, a framework for constructing Web portals, collaborative platforms, and social networks on a single platform. CominWeb hosts the CominLabs web site. The current version dated Jan 2015 has the following features. CominWeb offers advanced search services (LookinLabs) relying on big data technologies, see below. CominWeb offers also an intranet with the following services, globally or for each CominLabs group, all services stemming directly from Liferay:

  • A document warehouse
  • A wiki
  • A Readme, a FAQ, a forum
  • Public pages for reporting activities

For this version, access is managed by using the classical techniques offered by Liferay, namely roles and assignment of rights to roles. People are manually registered together with their role. Registering CominLabs people was cumbersome. Updates and modifications would require a full time web master, something that we want to avoid.




The main recent developments focused on the LookinLabs service. LookinLabs offers competence mapping for CominLabs through the following features:

  • LookinLabs responds to scientific semantic queries (who’s doing what on what? What’s the profile of Albert Benveniste, who are researchers most similar to him, etc.)
  • The responses rely on semantic analyses, it’s not just word matching.
  • The service requires zero-maintenance and is always to date.

To achieve this, a data base of all publications of CominLabs researchers is exploited using data mining techniques (title, authors, abstract, and meta-data). No input is expected from CominLabs researchers besides their personal link to standard bibliographical data bases, including IEEE Explore, DBLP, HAL, and more. These data bases are then regularly and automatically crawled, which keeps the document data base to date.


The publications of each author related to that topic are made accessible. The following open source packages were used for text mining

Tuning these algorithms was by no means trivial. Additional pre- and post-processing was necessary. The service was deployed January 2016 and is still under improvements.

 Plans for 2016 and beyond

We will continue improving the quality of the service based on user’s feedback.

Short term: LookinLabs4HAL

We are currently deploying LookinLabs for the entire HAL French data base covering all disciplines (about 1 million documents). When this will be done, the following services will be provided to HAL users:

  • Extend to all HAL authors what we currently have for CominLabs researchers. Since HAL contains more meta-data than most bibliographical data-bases, the corresponding version of LookinLabs is being upgraded to exploit these meta-data.
  • Handle laboratories and teams the same way we are currently handling individuals (returning a list of labs working on the queried topic, providing profiles for labs).

For this extension we expect the following difficulties: there are homonym authors and a same lab may be referenced in several different ways.

Mid term plans

Two directions can be considered – we did not prioritize them yet.

A first direction consists in searching for other uses of the LookinLabs concept, e.g., for large companies or networks of companies. We would then exploit in-house data bases of documents. The following difficulties are expected. First, in-house information may not be available as well written documents such as publications; quite often in industry, information is stored in slideware with emphasis on graphics, not reports with emphasis on text. Second, in-house documents may not be directly linked to individuals; nor may they reflect the competencies of their authors. Finally, issues of data protection or security will certainly arise (these could possibly be handled, we think). Depending on these issues, this track will be either developed or abandoned.

A second direction consists in deploying the activity monitor for which we have a mockup. This service crawls the flow of email of a community (in our case, each CominLabs project) and mines it to discover mentions of activities of interest (meetings...) and attachments of interest (draft papers under writing). So far we have delayed the deployment and experimentation of this service. The reason for this is that project members do not seem to systematically use their alias when exchanging information related to their project. As a consequence the flow of collected email was too thin in our first experiments.


Seven new research projects  were selected in February 2016: BBC, BIGCLIN, INTERCOM, M5HSTIA, PRIVGEN, PROFILE, RAMPART.

BBC : Wireless Interconnect Network on chip BRoadcast-Based parallel Computing



    UMR 6285 LAB-STICC- Laboratoire des sciences et Techniques de l’Information, de la Communication et de la Connaissance (UBO BREST/ UBS LORIENT),

    INRIA Rennes-Bretagne Atlantique-IRISA UMR CNRS 6074

    External collaborator : CEA-LETI Grenoble

The evolution of microelectronics and requirement in data rate for High Performance Computing (HPC), involve large number of computation resources and faster components (e.g. processor, memories) to support the application needs. Adding more execution resources in a chip leads to increase the need for efficient communication media between them and in this context, the introduction of new kinds of interconnects becomes one of the majors challenges for the next MPSoC (Multiprocessor System-on-Chip). Today, the manycore architectures are the standard and they imply impressive gain in the domains of HPC and servers but also in the area of embedded systems. Applications in all these categories are greedy for parallelism and integration progress will allow the increase of numbers of cores on chips. So, this trend will continue but only if solutions can be found to overcome the interconnect bottleneck that now increase the cost of exchange information in term of crosstalk, energy consumption, data rate limitations, useless area and limited flexibility. The challenge is now to provide new communication medium between cores, chips and PCB boards.

In this context, the aim of the BBC (on-chip wireless Broadcast-Based parallel Computing) project is to evaluate the feasibility of using wireless link inside Chips and to define new paradigms which could be associated to these radio communications. Using wireless communications easily enables broadcast capabilities for Wireless Networks on Chip (WiNoC) and new management techniques for memories and parallelism. So, these new paradigms will be defined and evaluated during this project. The key elements which will be taken into account, will concern the improvement of power consumption, the estimation of achievable data rates, the flexibility and the reconfigurability, the size reduction and the easiness of parallelism and memory hierarchy management.

Thanks to the use of wireless links associated with CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) access techniques and new broadcast capabilities, limitations due to interconnect can be largely reduced. So, two complementary originalities of this proposal are:

  • the evaluation of the contribution of RF-radio link for the intra-chips interconnects,
  • the definition of new opportunities for parallelism management and concurrent memory accesses.

Furthermore, the objective of this project will be to study how this specific communication medium can be combined with some other possible solutions, such as classical electrical or optical NoCs which could provide interesting characteristics. In particular, optical and wireless communications can provide very attractive solutions but maybe not in the same context. So, this project will provide us the possibility to answer to the question:

"In which cases the RF wireless links are attractive and in which cases the optical links are preferable?”.

To address this global question, collaborations with other CominLabs projects (“3D optical manycore” and “EPOC”) which address optical interconnects are planned to achieve comparisons between the two approaches. But before doing comparisons between different communication technologies, this project will study the different parts of a complete wireless infrastructure. To do that, the project is divided into three main work-packages:

i)              Physical Work-Package (WP) will focus on the RF-transceiver specification and capabilities as well as the characterization of channels with the aim to evaluate the energy needed to transport one bit. (This WP will be done in close collaboration between Lab-STICC/DIM team and the CEA/LETI team);

ii)             The second Work-Package will address the development of new low-power MAC (media access control) technique based on CDMA access. (This WP will be done in close collaboration between Lab-STICC/IAS team and the IRISA/CAIRN team);

iii)            The third Work-Package will concern the definition of new broadcast-based fast cooperation protocol designed for resource sharing (bandwidth, distributed memory, cache coherency) and parallel programming. (This WP will be done in close collaboration between Lab-STICC/MOCS team and the IRISA/CAIRN team).

Figure 1 illustrates this intra-chip aspect and summarizes the different protocols that will be analyzed and developed during the “BBC” project.



BIGCLIN Big data analytics for unstructured Clinical data



Inserm/LTSI (HBD team), CNRS-IRISA (LinkMedia, Cidre & Dionysos teams).

External collaborator: CNRS-STL

Health Big Data (HBD) is more than just a very large amount of data or a large number of data sources. The data collected or produced during the clinical care process can be exploited at different levels and across different domains, especially concerning questions related to clinical and translational research. To leverage these big, heterogeneous, sensitive and multi-domain clinical data, new infrastructures are arising in most of the academic hospitals, which are intended to integrate, reuse and share data for research.

Yet, a well-known challenge for secondary use of HBD is that much of detailed patient information is embedded in narrative text, mostly stored as unstructured data. The lack of efficient Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources dedicated to clinical narratives, especially for French, leads to the development of ad-hoc NLP tools with limited targeted purposes. Moreover, the scalability and real-time issues are rarely taken into account for these possibly costly NLP tools, which make them inappropriate in real-world scenarios.
Some other today’s challenges when reusing Health data are still not resolved: data quality assessment for research purposes, scalability issues when integrating heterogeneous HBD or patient data privacy and data protection. These barriers are completely interwoven with unstructured data reuse and thus constitute an overall issue which must be addressed globally.

The BigClin project thus proposes to address the essential need to leverage the above barriers when reusing unstructured clinical data at a large scale:1) We propose to develop new clinical records representation relying on fine-grained semantic annotation thanks to new NLP tools dedicated to French clinical narratives.
2) Since, the aim is to efficiently map this added semantic information to existing structured data to be further analyzed in a Big data infrastructure, the project also addresses distributed systems issues: scalability, management of uncertain data and privacy, stream processing at runtime...
In this project, we will demonstrate how clinical research might leverage NLP, information retrieval (IR) and automatic reasoning methods in order to address different use cases. The specific objectives are:
-To develop methods of information extraction and indexing dedicated to clinical texts;
-To exploit data mining techniques to handle conjointly the generated representation of the unstructured information of the clinical records and the existing structured clinical information;
- To develop distributed methods to ensure both the scalability and the online processing of these NLP/IR and data mining techniques;
- To evaluate the added value of these methods in several real clinical data and on real use-cases, including epidemilology and pharmaco-vigilance, clinical practice assessment and health care quality research, clinical trials.


INTERCOM: Interactive Communication Massive random access to subsets of compressed correlated data



Inria, Sirocco team: Aline Roumy, Thomas Maugey

LabSTICC, Télécom BretagneSignal & Communications Department: Elsa Dupraz, Karine Amis

Inria, i4S team: Jean Dumoulin

External partner: Michel Kieffer L2S, CentraleSupelec, Univ. Paris Sud.

This project aims to develop novel compression techniques allowing massive random access to large databases. Indeed, we consider a database that is so large that, to be stored on a single server, the data have to be compressed efficiently, meaning that the redundancy/correlation between the data have to be exploited. The dataset is then stored on a server and made available to users that may want to access only a subset of the data. Such a request for a subset of the data is indeed random, since the choice of the subset is user-dependent. Finally, massive requests are made, meaning that, upon request, the server can only perform low complexity operations (such as bit extraction but no decompression/compression).

Algorithms for two emerging applications of this problem will be developed: Free-viewpoint Television (FTV) and massive requests to a database collecting data from a large-scale sensor network (such as Smart Cities).

Random access to a database: the user can choose any subset of the compressed correlated data.



INSA of Rennes, IETR : Maryline Hélard, Matthieu Crussière

Télécom-Bretagne, Lab-STICC: François Gallée, Patrice Pajusco, Camilla Karnfelt, Daniel Bourrere

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