ACSC'96 Tutorial Programme

Nineteenth Australasian Computer Science Conference (ACSC'96)

Tutorial Programme

29 - 30 January 1996


Demand for tutorials has been sufficiently weak that the only one that will be offered is Information Retrieval. All of the other tutorials have been cancelled, and those who registered for them will be given a full refund.

Alistair Moffat, 14 December 1995.


The Information Retrieval tutorial will be held in Lecture Theatre 2, SEECS Building, 221 Bouverie Street, Carlton 3053, commencing at 2:00pm and finishing at 5:00pm on Monday 29 January. The SEECS building is 100m south of the main campus (across Grattan St) and approximately 10 minutes walk from St. Mary's College and 5 minutes walk from the conference venue.
As an innovation in 1996 ACSC will offer a full two-day programme of tutorials. All tutorials are subject to minimum enrolments. To allow numbers to be estimated accurately, enrolment prior to December 1, 1995 is requested. To enrol for tutorials, print the conference and tutorial registration form, or send email to asking for the form, giving your postal or fax address. (Printed copies of the form will be distributed to all Australasian Computer Science Departments in early November.) Tutorials registration fees are $140 for full registration, $120 for CSA-member registration, and $60 for student registration. Full (CSA member and CSA nonmember) enrolment in second and subsequent tutorials will be charged at the rate of $100 per registration; $50 for students.

Information about the Computer Science, Database, and Computing Theory conferences appears here.

Tutorials Offered

Security in the WWW and Electronic Commerce

While the Internet has existed for several decades, its utility has not been apparent to many people until the emergence of the World Wide Web (WWW). WWW browsers are able to retrieve and present multimedia that the traditional text-based interface of the Internet could not provide conveniently. Consequently the potential of the Internet as a medium for information transfer, in particular commerce, has been greatly enhanced. Unfortunately the Web has inherited all of the familiar security problems associated with the Internet, and introduced its own specific problems related to facilitating on-line financial transactions. The purpose of this tutorial is to examine security problems related to the Web, and present the emerging technologies and protocols for providing secure commercial transactions.

Topics covered in the course include:


Dr. Luke O'Connor first became interested in cryptography and data security in his honours year in 1985. He continued to work in these areas throughout his higher degrees, and in 1992 he completed his PhD, specialising in the design and analysis of block ciphers. Dr. O'Connor has worked as a security consultant and also as a programmer of security applications, both in Canada. In 1993 he took up a position in the security group at the Distributed Systems Technology Centre in Brisbane, which he now leads. His interests include encryption systems, cryptographic APIs, smart cards, electronic commerce and Web/Internet security.

Monday 29 January, 9:30am

Registration Code MA1

Programming Languages for Parallel and Distributed Computing

This tutorial will introduce and discuss programming languages for parallel and distributed computing systems. The talk begins with a review of parallel architecture models, and gives a taxonomy of parallel programming languages. Then the design choices for such languages will be discussed. We then introduce the design goals and issues of several classes of parallel programming languages: Example languages in each class, such as HPF, Ada, Linda, Occam, Orca, Sisal, PVM, Mentat, Parlog, PCN, and MPI will be described in some detail, and their usability for real application implementation will be compared. Finally, we will discuss future directions of research and development in the parallel programming area. The material mainly draws from a collection of papers on parallel programming languages (D.B. Skillicorn and D. Talia, eds., Programming Languages for Parallel Processing) published by IEEE Computer Society Press. Further information about this tutorial is available at


Domenico Talia is a senior researcher at CRAI (Consortium for Research and Applications of Informatics). He is working in the area of parallel architectures and programming languages since 1983. His interests are on parallel computers, concurrent programming languages, and distributed systems. In particular, he is interested in the study of tools and operating environments for highly parallel computing systems. He presented several tutorials on these topics at international conferences and workshops. He co-edited the book "Programming Languages for Parallel Processing" (IEEE Computer Society) and co-authored the book "Logic Programming and Parallel Architectures" (Franco Angeli). He published two books and more than 50 papers in international journals and conferences proceedings. He is member of the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society.

Monday 29 January, 9:30am

Registration Code MA2

Information Retrieval

Most corporate data is text based. This data is typically effectively hidden from all but the author and the recipients, and after a short while may be hidden from all. There is a clear need for document databases to solve this problem.

This tutorial will discuss three important paradigms for retrieval of text. It will describe indexing - how documents can be represented in order to allow retrieval. It will describe some of the issues in dealing with multimedia documents, which may be very large and have hypertext links. Examples of document retrieval systems will be demonstrated. The tutorial will also discuss the retrieval of documents in the larger context of management of documents. Should there be requirements imposed on the form of documents? How is security, versioning, and workflow controlled?

By the end of the tutorial, participants will understand the essentials of text retrieval, be able to make informed decisions about their own text retrieval needs, and make that decision in the context of their wider document management needs.


Dr. Ross Wilkinson obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics at Monash University in 1982. After teaching in the U.S. for two years, he completed a graduate diploma in computer science at the University of Melbourne in 1985. After a year at La Trobe University, he joined the Department of Computer Science at RMIT and has worked there since. His principal research interests are in the area of document retrieval. His is interested in the applications of artificial intelligence to document retrieval, hypertext, and the use of SGML in document retrieval.

Monday 29 January, 2:00pm

Registration Code MP1

VISP: Visual and Interactive Discrete Event Modelling and Simulation

Discrete event modelling is basically about using computers to study systems (engineering systems, biological systems, transportation systems, software systems, etc), sometimes even before they are built. It is flexible, it has power to capture detail about systems and it is cheap. Many discrete event simulators exist in the commercial domain (see Tanir and Sevinc, Defining the Requirements for a Standard Simulation Environment, IEEE Computer, Feb. 1994, pp. 28-34) dedicated specifically to simulation.

VISP changes this by extending the Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) software development environment to facilitate object-based simulation at a minimal cost. The resulting environment offers graphical and interactive model building and simulation, graphical debugging, editing and visual scenario preparation. VISP has interfaces to almost any modern software application through VB. This high degree of interconnectivity provides infinite means for simulation report generation, data acquisition and output analysis.

This tutorial is relevant to anyone who is involved in decision making and designing systems. People who wish to be exposed to modelling and simulation are also welcome.

This tutorial covers model development using VISP. We show step by step how to construct models of moderate complexity. We also present the concept of "emerging events" in VISP, a capability which no other discrete event modelling environment has.


Dr. S. Sevinc received a Ph.D. from Arizona in 1988 and currently holds a senior lectureship position at the University of Sydney. Dr. Sevinc has published widely and has taught numerous courses to industry in software development and modelling and simulation. Dr. Sevinc has previously developed DEVS-CLOS, a discrete event simulator based on Common LISP Object System. Based on Microsoft Windows and object-based approach of VB, the VISP environment was conceived and developed by Dr. Sevinc over the past few years. A version of the VISP environment has been funded by DSTO to be used as a framework for their naval mine warfare modelling and simulation efforts. Dr. Sevinc also worked for Microsoft (1991) as a consultant lecturer and for Czech Technical University, Prague (1995) as a visiting professor. Dr. Sevinc often works for industry as a consultant; this includes writing mission sensitive code, designing software and long term planning of training of staff and actually training them in relevant technologies.

Dr Kamil Bagde completed a Ph.D. at the University of Yildiz, Turkey, in 1991. He is a research assistant with the Knowledge Systems Group of the Basser Department of Computer Science at the University of Sydney. His research interests are in the area of Discrete Event Modelling and Simulation. He also has an active interest in practical applications of simulation-based decision making tools. He is currently working on a research project funded by DSTO to be used as the framework for their naval mine warfare modelling and simulation efforts. The emphasis of the project is to provide a visual environment as well as supporting object-orientation.

Monday 29 January, 2:00pm

Registration Code MP2

Text Compression

Text compression is employed in a variety of applications. It is used to economise on disk storage, in the form of general purpose systems such as GZip, as well as in on-the-fly disk doubling systems. It is also used to improve the performance of communication systems by reducing the amount of data being transmitted. Huffman coding is a traditional method of compression, but other approaches such as arithmetic coding and Ziv-Lempel coding have become popular in the last decade. This tutorial provides an introduction to the subject of text compression, and, more generally, methods for lossless compression of sequences. Key ideas in compression will be introduced, including modelling, entropy, Huffman coding, arithmetic coding, Ziv-Lempel coding, and adaptive modelling. Standard methods such as Compress and Gzip will be described in detail, and some lesser known powerful techniques, such as PPM and DMC, will also be examined. Finally, the performance of various techniques will be compared.


Dr. Tim Bell received B.Sc.(hons) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Canterbury in 1984 and 1987 respectively. He held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary (Canada) during 1987/88, before moving to a permanent appointment at the University of Canterbury, where he is now a Senior Lecturer. His interests include data compression, computers and music, and teaching computer science to young children. He has co-authored two books - Text Compression (Prentice Hall, 1990, co-authored with J. Cleary and I.H. Witten) and Managing Gigabytes: Compressing and Indexing Documents and Images (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994, co-authored with I.H. Witten and A. Moffat) - as well as numerous papers on data compression. He is on the program committee of the IEEE Data Compression Conference.

Dr. Ian H. Witten is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He received degrees in Mathematics from Cambridge University, Computer Science from the University of Calgary, and Electrical Engineering from Essex University. A Lecturer at Essex from 1970, he returned to Calgary in 1980 where he served as Head of Computer Science for three years. In 1992 he moved to New Zealand and took up a chair at Waikato University. His research interests include text and image compression; programming by demonstration; and digital libraries; and he directs a large project at Waikato on machine learning and its application to agriculture. He has published around 150 refereed papers and six books, including Text Compression (Prentice Hall, 1990, co-authored with T. Bell and J. Cleary) and Managing Gigabytes: Compressing and Indexing Documents and Images (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994, co-authored with A. Moffat and T. Bell).

Tuesday 30 January, 9:30am

Registration Code TA1

Persistent Programming Systems: The Future of Databases?

The successful uses of databases has been based on the notion that there is a strict methodology for their construction. Persistent programming research has for some time concentrated on integrating the concepts of both programming languages and databases. This tutorial will review the state of persistent programming systems in relation to the manner in which they control the complexity of building long-lived, data-intensive application systems, taking the approach that meta-data, data and programs have equal status.

The tutorial will review the approaches to uniformity and incrementality available to persistent application system designers. A liberal use of examples will be used to illustrate the concepts. It will also include a new technique for of programming called hyper-programming which is only possible in integrated persistent systems.


Professor Ron Morrison holds the Chair of Software Engineering at the University of St Andrews. He gained a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Strathclyde in 1967, a Diploma in Computing Science from the University of Glasgow in 1968, an MSc in Computing Science from the University of Glasgow in 1970 and a PhD from the University of St Andrews in 1979. His special interests are programming language design, persistent object systems and operating systems. Professor Morrison is currently a director of the ESPRIT III BRA 6903 Fide2 project on Database Programming Languages, and gave an invited tutorial on persistent programming at the 19th VLDB Conference in Chile. He is a regular attendee and contributor to ACSC.

Dr. Richard Connor has been working in the field of persistent and database programming language technology for around ten years, and has over 35 refereed publications in these areas. He graduated with an honours degree in 1985, and completed a Ph.D. ("Types and Polymorphism in Persistent Programming Systems") in 1991. In 1994 Dr Connor was awarded an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowhip to investigate enhanced static analysis mechanisms in persistent programming systems.

The persistent programming research group at St Andrews University is widely recognised as one of the major worldwide influences in persistent technology research.

Tuesday 30 January, 9:30am

Registration Code TA2

Image Compression

Like text compression, image compression is widely used for both storage and transmission of images. There is a wide variety in the kind of images that information systems must accommodate: black and white, greyscale, and color. This tutorial will cover the compression of images with an emphasis on bilevel document images and lossless compression. Attendance at the previous tutorial on "Text compression" is helpful but not essential.

We will begin by surveying image types, and quickly move on to CCITT Groups 3 and 4 compression, which is the standard way that fax machines represent images for transmission. These are being superseded by a recently-introduced standard for bilevel images, JBIG, which uses a context-based method of compression. We will treat context-based image compression in general, and the JBIG method in particular. JBIG also uses progressive transmission based on a non-obvious technique for resolution reduction, which will also be covered. We will then move to the JPEG standard for transmitting grey-scale and colour photographic images, and discuss different methods for progressive transmission. Returning to bilevel images, we will look at recently-developed methods of textual image compression which are likely to form the basis of future standards. We will finish with a comparison of the compression performance achieved by the different compression methods.


Professor Ian H. Witten and Dr. Tim Bell, as for the tutorial Text Compression.

Tuesday 30 January, 2:00pm

Registration Code TP1

Real-time Computing: Motivation, Implementation and Applications

The first part of our tutorial introduces real-time systems, explains why real-time computing is important to our society, discusses the design of real-time systems, and reviews what has been done in this area.

The second part discusses implementation strategy using two approaches: general message-passing to cooperating processes which are executing on different workstations; and distributed shared memory (DSM) for parallel computing.

In the third part of our tutorial we discuss, as a case study, the problem of real-time imaging. We give a summary of commonly used vision algorithms and their parallel solutions. We then introduce our hierarchical object recognition system as an example of parallel implementation using network of workstations by either message-passing or distributed shared memory. We will demonstrate our experimental results and compare with the traditional methods. Finally, we outline the potential applications of our methodology to other areas such as speech recognition, machine learning, neural networks, robotics and real-time database.


Dr. Jane You obtained a B.Eng. degree in Electronic Engineering in 1986, and graduated from La Trobe University with a Ph.D degree in Computer Science in 1992. In 1994 she was awarded a French Foreign Ministry International Post-doctoral Fellowship and was a member of a project of real-time object recognition in aerial images using multi-processors at Universite Paris XI. Her research interests include image processing, computer vision, parallel processing and distributed systems. She has had over 30 research papers published in international journals and conference proceedings. In 1996 she will take up a post at Griffith University.

Dr. Weiping Zhu has many years of research and working experience in Computer Science especially in Computer Networks and Distributed Systems. He used to be lecturer, software engineer and consultant in China. He spent one year as a research scholar working on distributed systems at University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He concentrated his research interest on distributed systems and networks towards his Ph.D during 1988-1992 at UNSW. During the past five years he has had more than 25 research papers and technical reports published.

Tuesday 30 January, 2:00pm

Registration Code TP2

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alistair /, 30 October 1995.