Professor Ferrante Neri

Job: Professor of Computational Intelligence Optimisation

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computational Intelligence (CCI)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 2078570

E: fneri@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.tech.dmu.ac.uk/~fneri/De_Montfort_University-Ferrante_Neri.html

 

Research group affiliations

Centre for Computational Intelligence

Publications and outputs 

  • Cloud-Assisted Secure eHealth Systems for Tamper-Proofing EHR via Blockchain
    Cloud-Assisted Secure eHealth Systems for Tamper-Proofing EHR via Blockchain Cao, S.; Zhang, G.; Liu, P.; Zhang, X.; Neri, Ferrante The wide deployment of cloud-assisted electronic health (eHealth) systems has already shown great benefits in managing electronic health records (EHRs) for both medical institutions and patients. However, it also causes critical security concerns. Since once a medical institution generates and outsources the patients' EHRs to cloud servers, patients would not physically own their EHRs but the medical institution can access the EHRs as needed for diagnosing, it makes the EHRs integrity protection a formidable task, especially in the case that a medical malpractice occurs, where the medical institution may collude with the cloud server to tamper with the outsourced EHRs to hide the medical malpractice. Traditional cryptographic primitives for the purpose of data integrity protection cannot be directly adopted because they cannot ensure the security in the case of collusion between the cloud server and medical institution. In this paper, a secure cloud-assisted eHealth system is proposed to protect outsourced EHRs from illegal modification by using the blockchain technology (blockchain-based currencies, e.g., Ethereum). The key idea is that the EHRs only can be outsourced by authenticated participants and each operation on outsourcing EHRs is integrated into the public blockchain as a transaction. Since the blockchain-based currencies provide a tamper-proofing way to conduct transactions without a central authority, the EHRs cannot be modified after the corresponding transaction is recorded into the blockchain. Therefore, given outsourced EHRs, any participant can check their integrity by checking the corresponding transaction. Security analysis and performance evaluation demonstrate that the proposed system can provide a strong security guarantee with a high efficiency.
  • HyperSPAM: A study on hyper-heuristic coordination strategies in the continuous domain
    HyperSPAM: A study on hyper-heuristic coordination strategies in the continuous domain Caraffini, Fabio; Neri, Ferrante; Epitropakis, Michael G. This article proposes a simplistic algorithmic framework, namely hyperSPAM, composed of three search algorithms for addressing continuous optimisation problems. The Covariance Matrix Adaptation Evolution Strategy (CMAES) is activated at the beginning of the optimisation process as a preprocessing component for a limited budget. Subsequently, the produced solution is fed to the other two single-solution search algorithms. The first performs moves along the axes while the second makes use of a matrix orthogonalization to perform diagonal moves. Four coordination strategies, in the fashion of hyperheuristics, have been used to coordinate the two single-solution algorithms. One of them is a simple randomized criterion while the other three are based on a success based reward mechanism. The four implementations of the hyperSPAM framework have been tested and compared against each other and modern metaheuristics on an extensive set of problems including theoretical functions and real-world engineering problems. Numerical results show that the different versions of the framework display broadly a similar performance. One of the reward schemes appears to be marginally better than the others. The simplistic random coordination also displays a very good performance. All the implementations of hyperSPAM significantly outperform the other algorithms used for comparison. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • A Study on Rotation Invariance in Differential Evolution
    A Study on Rotation Invariance in Differential Evolution Caraffini, Fabio; Neri, Ferrante Epistasis is the correlation between the variables of a function and is a challenge often posed by real-world optimisation problems. Synthetic benchmark problems simulate a highly epistatic problem by performing a so-called problem's rotation. Mutation in Differential Evolution (DE) is inherently rotational invariant since it simultaneously perturbs all the variables. On the other hand, crossover, albeit fundamental for achieving a good performance, retains some of the variables, thus being inadequate to tackle highly epistatic problems. This article proposes an extensive study on rotational invariant crossovers in DE. We propose an analysis of the literature, a taxonomy of the proposed method and an experimental setup where each problem is addressed in both its non-rotated and rotated version. Our experimental study includes $280$ problems over five different levels of dimensionality and nine algorithms. Numerical results show that 1) for a fixed quota of transferred design variables, the exponential crossover displays a better performance, on both rotated and non-rotated problems, in high dimensions while the binomial crossover seems to be preferable in low dimensions; 2) the rotational invariant mutation DE/current-to-rand is not competitive with standard DE implementations throughout the entire set of experiments we have presented; 3) DE crossovers that perform a change of coordinates to distribute the moves over the components of the offspring offer high-performance results on some problems. However, on average the standard DE/rand/1/exp appears to achieve the best performance on both rotated and non-rotated testbeds. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Algorithm Design Issues in Adaptive Differential Evolution: Review and taxonomy
    Algorithm Design Issues in Adaptive Differential Evolution: Review and taxonomy Al-Dabbagh, R.D.; Neri, Ferrante; Idris, N.; Baba, M.S. The performance of most metaheuristic algorithms depends on parameters whose settings essentially serve as a key function in determining the quality of the solution and the efficiency of the search. A trend that has emerged recently is to make the algorithm parameters automatically adapt to different problems during optimization, thereby liberating the user from the tedious and time-consuming task of manual setting. These fine-tuning techniques continue to be the object of ongoing research. Differential evolution (DE) is a simple yet powerful population-based metaheuristic. It has demonstrated good convergence, and its principles are easy to understand. DE is very sensitive to its parameter settings and mutation strategy; thus, this study aims to investigate these settings with the diverse versions of adaptive DE algorithms. This study has two main objectives: (1) to present an extension for the original taxonomy of evolutionary algorithms (EAs) parameter settings that has been overlooked by prior research and therefore minimize any confusion that might arise from the former taxonomy and (2) to investigate the various algorithmic design schemes that have been used in the different variants of adaptive DE and convey them in a new classification style. In other words, this study describes in depth the structural analysis and working principle that underlie the promising and recent work in this field, to analyze their advantages and disadvantages and to gain future insights that can further improve these algorithms. Finally, the interpretation of the literature and the comparative analysis of the results offer several guidelines for designing and implementing adaptive DE algorithms. The proposed design framework provides readers with the main steps required to integrate any proposed meta-algorithm into parameter and/or strategy adaptation schemes.
  • Rotation Invariance and Rotated Problems: An Experimental Study on Differential Evolution
    Rotation Invariance and Rotated Problems: An Experimental Study on Differential Evolution Caraffini, Fabio; Neri, Ferrante This paper presents an experimental study on the efficacy of a rotation-invariant Differential Evolution (based on current-to-rand mutation) on a benchmark of test problems in its non-rotated and rotated version. Numerical results show that standard Differential Evolution outperforms rotation-invariant Differential Evolution on the benchmark under consideration for both non-rotated and rotated problems. In other words, the rotation-invariant Differential Evolution does not seem to be more efficient than its standard counterpart to address rotated problems. According to our interpretation, these experimental results show that rotated problems are simply different problems with respect to the non-rotated problems. Furthermore, rotation-invariant Differential Evolution is characterised by its moving operator: it generates an offspring by perturbing all the design variables of a candidate solution at the same time. This logic does not appear to guarantee a better performance on rotated problems. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link
  • Geometry based Three-Dimensional Image Processing Method for Electronic Cluster Eye
    Geometry based Three-Dimensional Image Processing Method for Electronic Cluster Eye Wu, S.; Zhang, G.; Zhu, M.; Jian, T.; Neri, Ferrante In recent years, much attention has been paid to the electronic cluster eye (eCley), a new type of artificial compound eyes, because of its small size, wide field of view (FOV) and sensitivity to motion objects. An eCley is composed of a certain number of optical channels organized as an array. Each optical channel spans a small and fixed field of view (FOV). To obtain a complete image with a full FOV, the images from all the optical channels are required to be fused together. The parallax from unparallel neighboring optical channels in eCley may lead to reconstructed image blurring and incorrectly estimated depth. To solve this problem, this paper proposes a geometry based three-dimensional image processing method (G3D) for eCley to obtain a complete focused image and dense depth map. In G3D, we derive the geometry relationship of optical channels in eCley to obtain the mathematical relation between the parallax and depth among unparallel neighboring optical channels. Based on the geometry relationship, all of the optical channels are used to estimate the depth map and reconstruct a focused image. Subsequently, by using an edge-aware interpolation method, we can further gain a sharply focused image and a depth map. The effectiveness of the proposed method is verified by the experimental results. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link
  • Simplified and yet Turing universal spiking neural P systems with communication on request
    Simplified and yet Turing universal spiking neural P systems with communication on request Wu, T.; Bible, F.; Paun, A.; Pan, Linqiang; Neri, Ferrante Spiking neural P systems are a class of third generation neural networks belonging to the framework of membrane computing. Spiking neural P systems with communication on request (SNQ P systems) are a type of spiking neural P system where the spikes are requested from neighbouring neurons. SNQ P systems have previously been proved to be universal (computationally equivalent to Turing machines) when two types of spikes are considered. This paper studies a simpli ed version of SNQ P systems, i.e. SNQ P systems with one type of spike. It is proved that one type of spike is enough to guarantee the Turing universality of SNQ P systems. Theoretical results are shown in the cases of the SNQ P system used in both generating and accepting modes. Furthermore, the influence of the number of unbounded neurons (the number of spikes in a neuron is not bounded) on the computation power of SNQ P systems with one type of spike is investigated. It is found that SNQ P systems functioning as number generating devices with one type of spike and four unbounded neurons are Turing universal. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
  • Spiking Neural P Systems with Communication on Request
    Spiking Neural P Systems with Communication on Request Pan, Linqiang; Paun, Gheorge; Zhang, Gexiang; Neri, Ferrante Spiking Neural P Systems are Neural System models characterised by the fact that each neuron mimics a biological cell and the communication between neurons is based on spikes. In the Spiking Neural P systems investigated so far, the application of evolution rules depends on the contents of a neuron (checked by means of a regular expression). In these P systems, a speci ed number of spikes are consumed and a speci ed number of spikes are produced, and then sent to each of the neurons linked by a synapse to the evolving neuron. In the present work, a novel communication strategy among neurons of Spiking Neural P Systems is proposed. In the resulting models, called Spiking Neural P Systems with Communication on Request, the spikes are requested from neighbouring neurons, depending on the contents of the neuron (still checked by means of a regular expression). Unlike the traditional Spiking Neural P systems, no spikes are consumed or created: the spikes are only moved along synapses and replicated (when two or more neurons request the contents of the same neuron). The Spiking Neural P Systems with Communication on Request are proved to be computationally universal, that is, equivalent with Turing machines as long as two types of spikes are used. Following this work, further research questions are listed to be open problems. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Progressive Preference Articulation for Decision Making in Multi-Objective Optimisation Problems
    Progressive Preference Articulation for Decision Making in Multi-Objective Optimisation Problems Rostami, Shahin; Neri, Ferrante; Epitropakis, Michael G. This paper proposes a novel algorithm for addressing multi-objective optimisation problems, by employing a progressive preference articulation approach to decision making. This enables the interactive incorporation of problem knowledge and decision maker preferences during the optimisation process. A novel progressive preference articulation mechanism, derived from a statistical technique, is herein proposed and implemented within a multi-objective framework based on evolution strategy search and hypervolume indicator selection. The proposed algorithm is named the Weighted Z-score Covariance Matrix Adaptation Pareto Archived Evolution Strategy with Hypervolume-sorted Adaptive Grid Algorithm (WZ-HAGA). WZ-HAGA is based on a framework that makes use of evolution strategy logic with covariance matrix adaptation to perturb the solutions, and a hypervolume indicator driven algorithm to select successful solutions for the subsequent generation. In order to guide the search towards interesting regions, a preference articulation procedure composed of four phases and based on the weighted z-score approach is employed. The latter procedure cascades into the hypervolume driven algorithm to perform the selection of the solutions at each generation. Numerical results against five modern algorithms representing the state-of-the-art in multi-objective optimisation demonstrate that the proposed WZ-HAGA outperforms its competitors in terms of both the hypervolume indicator and pertinence to the regions of interest. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Large Scale Problems in Practice: The effect of dimensionality on the interaction among variables
    Large Scale Problems in Practice: The effect of dimensionality on the interaction among variables Caraffini, Fabio; Neri, Ferrante; Iacca, Giovanni This article performs a study on correlation between pairs of variables in dependence on the problem dimensionality. Two tests, based on Pearson and Spearman coefficients, have been designed and used in this work. In total, $86$ test problems ranging between 10 and 1000 variables have been studied. If the most commonly used experimental conditions are used, the correlation between pairs of variables appears, from the perspective of the search algorithm, to consistently decrease. This effect is not due to the fact that the dimensionality modifies the nature of the problem but is a consequence of the experimental conditions: the computational feasibility of the experiments imposes an extremely shallow search in case of high dimensions. An exponential increase of budget and population with the dimensionality is still practically impossible. Nonetheless, since real-world application may require that large scale problems are tackled despite of the limited budget, an algorithm can quickly improve upon initial guesses if it integrates the knowledge that an apparent weak correlation between pairs of variables occurs, regardless the nature of the problem. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Click here to view a full listing of Ferrante Neri's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

F. Neri, C. Cotta, P. Moscato, Handbook of Memetic Algorithms, Studies in Computational Intelligence, Springer, Vol. 379, 2012.

F. Caraffini, F. Neri, G. Iacca, A. Mol, “Parallel Memetic Structures”, Information Sciences, Elsevier, Volume 227,  pages 60-82, April 2013.

E. Mininno, F. Neri, F. Cupertino, D. Naso, “Compact Differential Evolution”, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 32-54, February 2011.

F. Neri, E. Mininno, “Memetic Compact Differential Evolution for Cartesian Robot Control”, IEEE Computational Intelligence Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 54-65, May 2010.

F. Neri, V. Tirronen, “Recent Advances in Differential Evolution: A Review and Experimental Analysis”, Artificial Intelligence Review, Springer, Volume 33, Issue 1, pages 61-106, February 2010.

Research interests/expertise

  • Optimisation Algorithms
  • Memetic Computing
  • Differential Evolution
  • Particle Swarm Optimisation
  • Large Scale Problems.

Areas of teaching

Optimisation Algorithms

Algebra and Discrete Mathematics

Courses taught

IMAT2405 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Robotics.

IMAT1201 Connected Devices.

Membership of external committees

Emergent Technologies Technical Committee, IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, 2014-today, Member.

Task Force on Memetic Computing, IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, 2011-today, Chair.

Task Force on Differential Evolution, IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, 2012-today, Vice-Chair.

Forthcoming events

IEEE SSCI 2014, Orlando, USA
Symposium on Differential Evolution
http://www.ieee-ssci.org/SDE.html
Workshop on Memetic Computing
http://www.ieee-ssci.org/MC.html

Conference attendance

Recent and forthcoming invited talks:

“Understanding Differential Evolution”, 16-19 April 2014, Singapore, IEEE SSCI, Keynote Talk

“Selecting and Combining the Memes in Optimisation”, 19-21 December 2013, Chennai, India, SEMCCO 2013, Keynote Talk

“Towards Automatic Design in Memetic Computing”, 26-28 December 2013, Roorkee India, SocPros2013, Keynote Talk.

Current research students

Fabio Caraffini 1st Supervisor

Antonio Lopedote 1st Supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

“Algorithmic Design Issues in Memetic Computing”, 1/9/2009-31/8/2014 Academy Research Fellowship, Academy of Finland, PI.

Internally funded research project information

“High Performance Computing Facilities”, Research Capital Investment Funding, 1/1/2013-31/12/2013 coPI, with Dr. Simon Rees.

“Computational Intelligence Automatic Optimisation (CIAO)” , Fully Funded PhD Student, 1/10/2013-30/9/2016, coPI, with Dr. Lorenzo Picinali.

Professional esteem indicators

Editorial member of Memetic Computing, International Journal of Organizational and Collective Intelligence, Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, and International Journal of Information Science and Computer Applications.

Reviewer of more than 20 journals including International Journal on Neural Systems, IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE Computational intelligence Magazine, Information Sciences, Applied Soft Computing.

Case studies

http://www.scientific-computing.com/news/news_story.php?news_id=2195

http://www.publictechnology.net/features/interview-four-man-university-team-creates-supercomputer/37927

http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/51066

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2013/july/supercomputer-created-on-the-cheap.aspx

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