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University of Maribor - Laboratory for System Design

The University of Maribor is the second largest University in Slovenia. There are 14,128 students enrolled at the University of Maribor in this academic year. The number of degrees awarded so far is 36,703 after two-year courses of study; 9,910 at the end of four-year undergraduate university studies; 755 master's and 182 doctoral degrees. In the academic year 1997-1998, 47 undergraduate and 26 graduate study programmes were offered by the nine faculties and the University College of Nursing Studies. The university is employing 1,047 people: 692 faculty and 355 staff members. The University of Maribor is highly active in regional Rectors' Conferences of Alps-Adria, the Danube region, the European Rectors' Conference and others.

Specialized in:
The main research areas in the medical field, covered by the Laboratory for System Design (LSD) are design methods for medical information systems; intelligent medical systems; and quality and complexity of medical information systems.

To be able to design successfull intelligent medical systems (IMS), the LSD must design them with an appropriate design methodology, but very few if any such methods exist in the real world. Thereafter, as a design framework, the LSD uses the MetaMet, a two-levelled system design approach developed by the LSD team. The MetaMet is defined as a process in which a problem situation is transformed into an improved situation, employing a computerised IMS, appreciating the epistemology of the MetaMet, the characteristics of the problem situation, recent developments in IMS, and related research and science in general (standards, norms, technology, etc.) and the principle of uncertainty performed in an endless learning loop.

The LSD is developing new design methods and new machine learning methods. One of the most successful methods is a hybrid one. In it, the team first constructs some decision trees and some neural networks using conventional building techniques and performs evolutionary computation on them. The best individual neural networks are transformed into decision trees and these then compete with the best decision tree individuals and finally after some iterations, the optimal decision tree and the optimal neural network are constructed, which can then be used as advanced adaptive statistical tools. The whole construction process is improved with the use of adaptive evolutionary cost function, which represents a great advancement over traditional genetic algorithmic methods.

The LSD is designing "language and form" independent metrics with critical values related to complexity, information content and entropy called Alpha metrics. Alpha metric is based on the fact that a computer programme is a string of symbols, and the team can assess the complexity of a string with the calculation of long range correlations between symbols, an approach successfully used in the DNA decoding and recently on human writings. Long range power law correlations (LRC) have been discovered in a wide variety of systems. Recognising an LRC is very important for understanding the system's behaviour, since the team can quantify it with a critical exponent, alpha. Quantification of this kind of scaling behaviour for apparently unrelated systems allows the LSD staff to recognise similarities between different systems, leading to underlying unification. For example, the recent research has shown that DNA sequences, human writings and computer programmes can be analysed using very similar techniques.

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (FERI) represents an essential part of the University of Maribor, doing educational and research work on the areas of automation, electronics, robotics, computer science, information processing, mathematics and physics. The school that created FERI was first founded in 1959 as the Higher Technical School. A number of economic, industry and scientific associations jointly established this school to promote educational programmes. In 1979, the school was re-organised into the High Technical School, with educational programmes lasting four years. In 1985, the school became known as the Technical Faculty. The latest re-organisation in 1994 established FERI, which became an independent educational and research organisation.

The development of educational and research activities affects the progress of university education as well as the technical re-organisation of industry. This development made a major contribution to the dynamic development of the faculty and its activities in the last two decades. FERI has established contacts with a number of universities and institutes outside Slovenia, which makes international co-operation in the educational process possible. There are 190 people working in the Faculty's seven institutes.

Products, projects and services

    The Laboratory for System Design co-operates in some national and international projects. The most important are:
    • Tempus Phare: NICE - Nursing Informatics and Computer aided Education - proj. no. SJEP-11574-96
    • INSIST - proj. no. L2-1640-0796-99
    • INCOMPETENT - Intelligent Computer Support for Method Engineering - proj. no. J2-0514-0796-98

Contact information:
University of Maribor, Laboratory for System Design
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Dr. Peter Kokol
Smetanova 17
2000 Maribor, Slovenia
Tel.: +386-62-2207060
Fax: +386-62-211178

Last update:
Maribor, Wednesday 27th October 1999