A curated list of my publications ;)

LiaScript: a domain-specific-language for interactive online courses

Author: André Dietrich

Abstract. LiaScript is an attempt to enable everyone to create free and interactive online courses, without the need of being an experienced programmer. Instead, it aims to bring both parties, software-and course-developers, closer together by introducing Open-Source techniques into the Open-courSe development process. LiaScript was designed to be compatible to Common-Markdown, but it introduces lots of language extensions that deal with quizzes, surveys, ASCII-art, text2speech, animations, online programming, the integration of JavaScript, etc. as well as its own macro-system that simplifies tedious and repetitive tasks. It comes along with its own just-in-time compiler that runs in the browser and therefor does not require additional tooling.

download / liascript / github

  author    = {Andr\'e Dietrich},
  title     = {LiaScript: a domain-specific-language for interactive online courses},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning 2019},
  year      = {2019},
  pages     = {186--194},
  address   = {Porto, Portugal}

A Concept for Declarative Information Acquisition in Smart Environments

Author: André Dietrich

Abstract. Future smart and intelligent environments are envisioned to be loosely coupled composi-tions of distributed sensor, actuator, and computation systems, which are able to combinetheir capabilities, share their information and knowledge, in order to fulfill various tasks au-tonomously. However, current approaches in these areas do either provide mechanisms forsharing data only or concentrate on the composition of operations/services for predefinedproblem sets.

This thesis, therefore, firstly analyzes the different notions of data, information, andknowledge to be shared among heterogeneous systems. Based on this distinction, a referencemodel that is used to relate the previously disparate approaches was developed. It hasrevealed that most of the concepts and attempts for smart and intelligent environments doonly tackle small and restricted aspects.

In contrast to adding a new system to the current state-of-the-art that also operateson one or more of the identified layers, a concept was developed that integrates thesetechnologies from different layers, which allows to combine and access them freely. It treatssuch compositions of smart information spaces as distributed database, allowing to query,access, and extract all the required information in the desired formats. The developedconcept is based on three intermediate steps. At first, cloud-based techniques are appliedto form a virtual overlay database and to define a basic organization. In opposition to otherapproaches, relevant data and information from different entities is therefore not uploadedto a cloud infrastructure but, instead, a cloud is formed by all entities within the smartenvironment. As a second step and on the basis of SQL-like queries, relevant data for acertain area or task is identified and translated into a precise 3D rigid-body simulation. Thislocal reconstruction of the environment is applied in the last step as a general representationand local knowledge base, from which further representations and information is abstracted.The type of information or representation is also defined within the mentioned SQL-likequery. For this purpose, a new and embedded programming language that combines both an SQL-like syntax with new semantics, and declarative aspects with imperative scriptingcapabilities has been developed.

As a proof of concept, prototypes have been developed for every described step, whichcan be freely downloaded as open source implementations under BSD-license.


  title  = {A Concept for Declarative Information Acquisition in Smart Environments},
  author = {Dietrich, Andr{\'e}},
  year   = {2016},
  school = {Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany}

Reasoning in complex environments with the SelectScript declarative language

Authors: André Dietrich, Sebastian Zug, Luigi Nardi, and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. SelectScriptis an extendable, adaptable, and declarative domain-specific language aimed at information retrieval from simulation environments and robotic world models in an SQL-like manner. In this work we have ex-tended the language in two directions. First, we have implemented hierarchical queries; second, we improve efficiency enabling manual design space exploration on different “search” strategies. As depicted in the teaser above, we demonstrate the applicability of such extensions in two application problems; the basic language concepts are explained by solving the classical problem ofthe Towers of Hanoi and then a common path planning problem in a complex3D environment is implemented.

download / github / youtube / presentation

  author    = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Luigi Nardi and J\"org Kaiser},
  title     = {Reasoning in complex environments with the SelectScript declarative language},
  booktitle = {IROS Workshop on Domain-Specific Languages and models for ROBotic systems (DSLRob-15)},
  year      = {2015},
  address   = {Hamburg, Germany},
  keywords  = {Reasoning, Robotic, Simulation}

SelectScript: A Query Language for Robotic World Models and Simulations

Authors: André Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. We introduce a new declarative language called SelectScript. As its name suggests, it is a scripting language inspired primarily by SQL and its relational algebra. It is intended to be used for complex queries on different kinds of world models. Scripts can be dynamically generated and executed, or embedded into the code of foreign programming languages. A first interpreter was therefore developed for Python. Adapting the ideas of language-oriented programming, which enables developers to create their own domain-specific language, we developed a language stub that can be easily adapted and extended to comply with any (discrete) robotic world model or robotic simulator. We will further show how simple SELECT-statements can be used to extract any kind of valuable information in various return formats, thereby going beyond traditional SQL capabilities.

download / youtube / presentation / demo

  title     = {SelectScript: A Query Language for Robotic World Models and Simulations},
  author    = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and J\"org Kaiser},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)},
  year      = {2015},
  address   = {Seattle, Washington},
  keywords  = {Programming Abstractions, Robotic, Environement Representation}

Distributed Management and Representation of Data and Context in Robotic Applications

Authors: André Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Siba Mohammad and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. The traditional, isolated data handling in sensor-actuator systems does not fulfill the requirements of robots that need to interact with their smart environment. Consequently, we have to develop new mechanisms for adaptive data and context handling. We firstly investigate what types of data are present within smart environments and how they can be classified and organized. Only if the available data can be structured, it can be queried and thus put into context. This is because the variety of data and possible interpretations is tremendous, ranging from measurement values, sensor and robot descriptions/states/commands, to environmental data, such as positions, maps, spatial relations, etc. To cope with this diversity, we developed a solution capable of storing and accessing data within a distributed environment by providing additional context information. Furthermore, we describe how this information can be assembled in a task-oriented manner. This enables robots to dynamically generate environmental abstractions by using data from different sources and also enables them to incorporate external sensor measurements.

download / youtube

  title     = {Distributed Management and Representation of Data and Context in Robotic Applications},
  author    = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Siba Mohammad and J\"org Kaiser},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/RSI International Conference on Intelligent Robobts and Systems (IROS)},
  year      = {2014},
  address   = {Chicago, Illinois},
  keywords  = {Smart Environment, Robotics, Environement Representation}

ROS Meets Cassandra: Data Managementin Smart Environments with NoSQL

Authors: Andre Dietrich, Siba Mohammad, Sebastian Zug, and Jorg Kaiser

Abstract. Distributed and smart environments can be seen as a distributed storage for data, information, and knowledge. Thus, one of the key challenges for future smart environments is the organization, access, and querying of this distributed storage, while allowing entities to dynamically access both real-time and historical data. A relatively new approach for data management, the NoSQL (Not onlySQL) databases, promises data-model flexibility, high scalability, and availability without the overhead in the fully fledged traditional Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS)s. In our work, we exploit the previous benefits of NoSQL databases by integrating Cassandra into the Robotic Operating System (ROS). We evaluated our approach in two scenarios; within a realistic robotic exploration and with a pessimistic benchmark using randomly generated data.

download / github / wiki

youtube1 / youtube2 / youtube3 / youtube4

  title     = {{ROS} {M}eets {C}assandra: {D}ata {M}anagement in {S}mart {E}nvironments with {NoSQL}},
  author    = {Andr\'{e} Dietrich and Siba Mohammad and Sebastian Zug and J\"{o}rg Kaiser},
  booktitle = {Proc. of the 11th International Baltic Conference (Baltic DB\&IS 2014)},
  year      = {2014},
  address   = {Tallinn, Estonia},
  pages     = {43--54},
  publisher = {TUT Press},
  keywords  = {Cassandra, Database, Robotics, Smart Environment}

The R in Robotics - rosR: A new Language Extension for the Robot Operating System

Authors: André Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. The aim of this contribution is to connect two previously separated worlds: robotic application development with the Robot Operating System (ROS) and statistical programming with R. This fruitful combination becomes apparent especially in the analysis and visualization of sensory data. We therefore introduce a new language extension for ROS that allows to implement nodes in pure R. All relevant aspects are described in a step-by-step development of a common sensor data transformation node. This includes the reception of raw sensory data via the ROS network, message interpretation, bag-file analysis, transformation and visualization, as well as the transmission of newly generated messages back into the ROS network.

download / github / wiki

  title    = {The R in Robotics - rosR: A new Language Extension for the Robot Operating System},
  author   = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and J\"org Kaiser},
  journal  = {The R Journal},
  year     = {2013},
  number   = {2},
  pages    = {117--128},
  volume   = {5},
  ISSN     = {2073-4859},
  keywords = {R, ROS, rosR, Robotic, Sensor Systems},
  url      = {}

Geometric Environment Modeling System

Authors: André Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. Flexible system configurations and adaptability to changing environments and environmental conditions are key concerns for autonomous systems in future applications, either in industrial production processes, building automation, or health-care scenarios. New technologies for instrumented and smart environments support the distribution and acquisition of a diversity of information, but the organization, selection, validation, and interpretation according to certain contexts are still open issues.

Therefore we propose a concept for separating environmental perception and modeling from the application logic. We apply a general model related to the idea of “mental models” used in cognitive science. It combines geometrical data with knowledge about sensors and actuators. This model is used to derive all information, which is required by an application, and to generate different environmental representations.

We show that this approach is capable of solving different problems in the fields of distributed systems as well as instrumented environments and demonstrate its usability.

download / youtube

  Title        = {Geometric Environment Modeling System},
  Author       = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and J\"org Kaiser},
  Booktitle    = {7th IFAC Conference on Manufacturing Modelling, Management and Control},
  Year         = {2013},

  Address      = {Saint Petersburg, Russia},
  Organization = {International Federation of Automatic Control},
  Pages        = {1429--1434},

  Date         = {2013-06-19},
  Keywords     = {Environment Model, Dual Reality, Distributed Systems, Instrumented Environment}

Detecting External Measurement Disturbances Based on Statistical Analysis for Smart Sensors

Authors: André Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and Jörg Kaiser

Abstract. The transducer process of a sensor is interference prone to environmental conditions or external disturbances depending on sensor type, measurement procedure etc. Dependable sensors are characterized by a broad independence of those factors or/and they can both detect situations that make a correct measurement impossible and validate the measurement result. In this paper we describe a statistical approach for the detection of faulty measurements caused by external disturbances. Our fault detection algorithm is based on a comparison of faultless reference measurements with current sensing values. Using this enhancement, a sensor becomes a real smart sensing device and supplies an additional validity estimation of each measurement. The approach was implemented and validated in a demonstration setup that integrates an infrared sensor array disturbed by a strong extraneous light.


  title     = {Detecting External Measurement Disturbances Based on Statistical Analysis for Smart Sensors},
  author    = {Andr\'e Dietrich and Sebastian Zug and J\"org Kaiser},
  booktitle = {Procedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Industrial Electronics (ISIE)},
  year      = {2010},
  address   = {Bari, Italy},
  pages     = {2067-2072},
  keywords  = {Smart Sensors, Sensors, Fault-Tolerance}