During the past 50 years informatics (computer science, ICT) has grown from an activity conducted by a few individuals in the research community, to something that affects virtually every aspect of society. New and existing markets push the technology forwards, and the public sector is constantly asking for new solutions. Today, informatics is a science with a vast political, economic, social and cultural impact on the development of society. The computerized society has arrived
Numbers and new building
The Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo (UiO) has approximately 250 employees and 1500 students and is the largest ICT unit for research and higher education in Norway. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranks ICT research at UiO as no. 1 in the Nordic region, no. 6 in Europe and no. 48 worldwide.
As of 2011, the Department of Informatics will be located in a new Computer Science building at UiO. This building with its laboratories and education facilities is the largest ICT investment in Norway ever. The building and its surroundings represent a new university campus within short walking distance of the rest of the University and the Oslo University Hospital.
All masters’ programs at the Department of Informatics are international, and approximately 50% of the PhD-students (total number approximately 220) are from outside of Norway. The Department has more than 60 partners in industry and the public sector, and research is conducted in cooperation with numerous research groups around the world.
The Department of Informatics has research groups covering the most important fields of core computer science. Moreover, it is involved in important interdisciplinary projects combining natural sciences, computational mathematics, social sciences and the humanities.
Advanced services and infrastructures. Although Internet applications and various types of mobile terminals have been a part of our daily life for quite some time, we foresee an enormous growth in the use of ICT solutions in the next 10-20 years. New advanced services built on global infrastructures (Internet) will create new industry, change existing industry and provide new and more efficient solutions in the public sector. ICT research and education at UiO has a strong focus on new ICT solutions in the computerized society.
Information access technology covers language technology, data mining, automatic reasoning, systems support for multi-media data streaming, real-time data communication, and computer graphics.
Information infrastructures and mobile services cover complexity analysis of large information systems, understanding of socio-technologic issues within and across organization, design of digital environments, and human-computer interaction.
Programming and networks covers quality assurance of distributed software, software engineering, new programming methodologies, “internet of things”, self-adaptive networks, distributed data processing and management, and new parallel computing algorithms.
Nanoelectronics and robotics cover topics such as wireless communication, signal processing, low-energy electronics (green ICT) and intelligent systems both in hardware and software.
ICT in medicine and health. The Department of Informatics is involved in many projects addressing important challenges in medicine and health.
The development of health information systems and ICT support for collaboration in the health sector are major research topics at the Department of Informatics. Researchers in the Department are studying socio-technological issues in the health sector, and during recent years we have created strong interdisciplinary activities combining competence within ICT, sociology, pedagogy and health. This is supported by strong competence in complexity analysis, building of information infrastructures, development of mobile services, human-computer interaction, and design of digital environments. Moreover, we believe that our competence in building and utilizing open source software is important to cover future needs in the health sector. In particular we are involved in projects aimed at challenges created by an ageing population.
ICT in medical research has grown to become a huge area at UiO and we collaborate closely with excellent groups conducting brain and cancer research at the Oslo University hospital. The main areas of research are development of statistical methods and software for studying biomedical data, and the development of image-based methods for cancer diagnostics.
Medical equipment and intervention is a growing area where we work on issues such as robustness of intervention software, image fusion, nanoelectronics for implants and robotics for surgery. We are also involved in the development of user interfaces for advanced medical equipment.
Green ICT. ICT equipment consumes more and more electricity, hence the ICT area has become an important “player” in the struggle to find globally sustainable energy solutions. Under the umbrella “green ICT” we are involved in projects working on the development of computing methods and software for the creation of smartness in energy grids, the development of smart environmental technology including low-effect electronics, and the development of green data centers for high performance computing and processing and storage of huge data sets.
ICT for development. The Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) is a global network headed and initiated at the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo since 1994. The program is responsible for the development of the open source based District Health Information Software (DHIS) implemented in 16 African countries, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. The DHIS provides information used to track progress for improving health system components in developing countries and for monitoring the Millenium Development Goals. Mobile applications are part of the DHIS software suite and implemented in pilot projects in Tanzania and Nigeria and in full scale in the Punjab province (India). HISP is of course an important part of the ICT and health research activity at the Department of Informatics (cf. above).
Computer science for science. ICT solutions exist everywhere in society, and during the past 20 years ICT has increasingly become a central element in most scientific disciplines. In fact, a vast majority of research activities within medicine and the natural sciences depend heavily on ICT solutions, e.g. for high performance computing and handling of huge data sets.
In coming years, the Department of Informatics will focus particularly on ICT within the life sciences, where we are seeing an enormous growth in the data volumes and an increasing need for computing algorithms for solving the challenges that emerge. For this reason, we have started a new program at the University of Oslo – the Computational Life Science initiative (CLSi), where the main goal is to launch new interdisciplinary research activities and provide the life sciences with state-of-the-art solutions from the realm of informatics.
ICT, art and culture. During recent years we have seen an increasing interest in combining ICT with art and culture. We are involved in research projects investigating different uses of ICT solutions in learning environments (schools, museums, etc.) supporting cultural heritage in Norway, across Europe and around the world. In addition, we have growing research activities with musicians and the Department of Musicology at UiO.
The Department of Informatics at UiO launched five new education programs in 2010. Each program is divided into a three-year bachelor program followed by a two-year international master program.
The Informatics; programming and networks program covers the core of computer science and provides a thorough education in programming, software languages, logic, systems modeling, software engineering, and distributed systems utilizing concurrent processes inside computers to world-wide systems like the Internet.
The Informatics; design, use and interaction program provides multi-disciplinary skills essential for understanding the role of ICT in society and how ICT solutions can be used to solve important tasks. The program includes training in systems development in use contexts, the understanding of large and complex information systems, ICT management, interaction design and digital media production.
The Informatics; language and communication program provides the opportunity to study how computers handle and model human communication through language. The students learn how computers are able to translate human languages and how search engines in particular and software systems in general are based on language technology.
The Informatics; nanoelectronics and robotics program provides necessary knowledge and skills for building nanoelectronics systems and intelligent robots. The education involves signal processing and software development, and students will be involved in space technology and the development of medical equipment.
The Informatics; science (of nature) and medicine program combines in-depth knowledge of programming with a solid foundation in mathematics combined with domain knowledge in medicine and science of nature. The students can specialize in computational mathematics, image processing and biomedical computing.
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