PhD position - Scalability of Data Processing

Leuven - PhD
More than two weeks ago

You will work in the imec-DistriNet research group, which belongs to the Department of Computer Science of KU Leuven. You will investigate the real-time and energy efficient in-network data analysis in large-scale wireless sensor networks. 

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The job

Imec-DistriNet collaborates with Philips (Netherlands) and the University of Macerata (Italy) in the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie project HEART (MSCA-ITN Industrial Doctorate - Grant Agreement No. 766139, HEART investigates the design and development of a "HEalth related Activity Recognition system based on the Internet-of-Things (IoT); HEART is an international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary training program providing PhD Fellowships to 6 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). This ESRThe will focus on distributed middleware for scalable processing of IoT health data (e.g. end-to-end architecture design, distributed application deployment, privacy-preserving data collection algorithms).


You will work in the imec-DistriNet research group (, which belongs to the Department of Computer Science of KU Leuven. The imec-DistriNet group brings together over 80 researchers, of which 11 are professors, 6 are research managers and 16 are postdoctoral researchers. imec-DistriNet is acknowledged for its leading role in secure and distributed software. Microsoft’s academic ranking lists KU Leuven (mentioned as “Catholic University of Leuven”) first in the 100 top organizations in Europe in the category “security and privacy” over the past five years. Imec-DistriNet is actively involved in over 35 national and international research projects.

imec-DistriNet has considerable expertise in initiating, executing, and delivering application driven research, often in close collaboration with industry partners. Currently, imec-DistriNet is actively involved in about 35 national and international research projects, ranging from fundamental through strategic-basic to industrial/applied research. The know-how of imec-DistriNet was at the basis of multiple spin-offs, including Ubizen (now part of Verizon Business), a company that specializes in secure e-business and related security services, and VersaSense, which provides wireless Internet of Things (IoT) products and services that radically reduce the total cost of ownership for industrial sensing and control systems (


1) ESR will investigate the real-time and energy efficient in-network data analysis in large-scale wireless sensor networks by:

  • Benchmarking to what extent the network load can be decreased by pre-processing data on the sensor nodes (instead of sending large amounts of raw data to the cloud).
  • Modeling trade-offs between in-network processing and cloud processing, for example in terms of network load, energy efficiency, privacy, or data quality.
  • Investigating how to migrate data processing elements into or away from the sensor network, according to dynamically changing operational conditions (e.g. energy restrictions, connectivity or availability of the sensor device).
  • Designing and developing distributed middleware architecture that enables deployment of data processing algorithms to the available sensors, remote configuration of the sensors, and seamless integration of the sensor network with local gateways and the cloud.

2) ESR will investigate privacy and security risks (e.g. leaking sensitive information about a person’s gender, illness, or activity patterns) associated with large-scale deployments of e-health applications by:

  • Designing & developing middleware services for privacy preservation and data protection.
  • Assessing the legal compliance of these privacy and security services in the European and Chinese context.

3) ESR will evaluate the middleware by designing and developing a Proof-of-Concept prototype, using state-of-the-art sensor devices and in close collaboration with the other ESRs.


  • An architecture, capable of providing transparency on the sensor network.
  • A model of a sensor network to simulate sensor/cloud deployment trade-off and to monitor the network and processing load.
  • Embedded software implementation that executes the protocols and algorithms.
  • Efficient privacy-preserving data algorithms developed based on trade-off determined by the place where the data is processed (cloud vs on-device computation).

SUPERVISORS: Hans Hallez (, Danny Hughes (, Dietwig Lowet (



  • Degree: Master degree with distinction (cum laude) in computer science (or equivalent).
  • Language: English proficiency must be attested either through a previous English language diploma, or an internationally recognised proficiency test (at least C1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages i.e. IELTS, IBT, TOEFL or Cambrigde).
  • Career: When starting their contract (January 2018), selected researchers should be within the first four years of their research careers. This means being both within a four year window following their most recent graduation and not having been awarded a prior doctoral degree so far.
  • Mobility: At the date of recruitment, the researcher must not have resided, or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of the hiring institution for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.
  • Application: Complete and timely submission exclusively via the HEART on-line application system. Documents submitted must be in English. If supporting documents (eg. letters of academic references and scan of degree qualification) are not in English, they must be submitted together with a certified translation in English).

DESIRABLE REQUIREMENTS: a clear interest in and knowledge of IoT security, based on education, work or research experience.


For more information, please look into the Call for Applications (see attachment) and the HEART project web site (

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