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Johannes Kepler University Linz
Integrated Circuit and System Design
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Robert Wille
Altenberger Straße 69 | SCP3 0405
4040 Linz | Austria
Tel: +43 732 2468 4739

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The Department for Integrated Circuit and System Design covers the development of design methods for various application areas. A particular focus of our work is on the design, verification, and test of circuits and systems for conventional as well as alternative and post-CMOS computing technologies. Besides that, we have proven to successfully apply the methods developed by us in complementary research areas.In the following, a summary of our research interests and contributions is provided. Related publications can be accessed at this page.

Design for Conventional Computing Technologies

The design of today's computing devices (including embedded and cyber-physical systems) is one of the most complex problems Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is currently facing. In order to handle the ever increasing complexity, designers constantly introduce higher levels of abstraction. Today, design at the Register Transfer Level (RTL) and the Electronic System Level (ESL) is common. In our work, we are developing algorithms which improve existing design and verification techniques for these abstraction levels. At the same time, new abstraction levels are considered which lift the design process to abstractions closer to the initial specification provided in natural language. For this purpose, modeling languages such as UML or SysML as well as techniques from Natural Language Processing (NLP) are exploited. Within this area, we consider the design from the initially given (textual) specification to its first (formal) representation provided in terms of UML/OCL, SysML, MARTE, etc. This led to contributions in domains such as

  • Mapping of natural language specifications to formal models,
  • Verification and debugging of formal models provided in UML or SysML,
  • Modeling and implementation of non-functional behavior such as timing, and
  • Generic representation of functional and non-functional behavior from different description means.

Next, how to guarantee a (correct) realization of the resulting model e.g. in terms of a system implementation or circuit netlist has been considered by me. This resulted in contributions for

  • Verification and debugging of designs implemented at the RTL and the ESL and
  • Design understanding and visualization of circuits and systems implemented at the RTL and the ESL.

In addition to that, we also consider research questions at lower abstraction levels. Here, physical issues (represented by fault models or models for energy consumption) have to be considered in addition to the purely functional description. More precisely, we further contribute to the fields of

  • Automatic test pattern generation at the gate level and
  • the design of low power interconnect encoders.

Design for Alternative and post-CMOS Computing Technologies

While the previous decades have witnessed impressive developments in the design and realization of conventional computing devices (predominantly based on CMOS), physical boundaries and cost restrictions led to an increasing interest in alternatives. Quantum computing, reversible computing, biochips, optical computing, DNA computing, and further alternatives are being discussed at the moment. Besides the physical, biological, or chemical aspects, these emerging technologies also require thorough basic research on how to efficiently design these future circuits and systems. In our work, we are performing research towards proper design flows for alternative circuit and system technologies. This particularly included alternatives based on reversible and quantum architectures where we contributed to

  • Synthesis using exact methods, heuristic methods, as well as reversible hardware description languages,
  • Optimization,
  • Verification and debugging,
  • Technology mapping ,
  • Automatic test pattern generation, and
  • An integration into a continuous design flow.

Recently, we also successfully started according research for further alternative technologies, namely

  • the design of digital microfuidic biochips and
  • the design of optical circuits.

Contributions to Complementary Research Areas

Besides the research areas sketched above, we were heavily involved in the development of proof techniques, e.g. solving algorithms for NP-hard problems such as Boolean satisfiability or SAT Modulo Theory. Whenever possible, we also try to apply our expertise in complementary areas such as Theoretical Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence. This led to further contributions to the fields of

  • algorithms for automatic formal proof techniques,
  • studies on graph transformations, and
  • formalization of legal regulations.