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Why take a doctoral degree at the UPC

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Because of Excellence

The UPC is listed in the main international rankings as one of the top technological and research universities in southern Europe and is among the world's 40 best young universities.

Its main asset: people

Satisfaction with the work of the thesis supervisor is highlighted by 7 out of 10 UPC doctoral students. Support and availability get the best ratings.


More than half of the students of the UPC’s Doctoral School are international and a third obtain the International Doctorate mention.


Graduate employment of a high quality

Almost all UPC doctoral degree holders are successful in finding employment, mostly in jobs related to their degree.

The best industrial doctorate

The UPC offers the most industrial doctoral programmes in Catalonia (a third) with a hundred companies involved.

The industrial setting

The UPC’s location in an especially creative and innovative industrial and technological ecosystem is an added value for UPC doctoral students.

Theses for defense agenda

Reading date: 03/04/2023
  • CARDONA NADAL, JORDI: Practical strategies to monitor and control contention in shared resources of critical real-time embedded systems
    Thesis file: (contact the Doctoral School to confirm you have a valid doctoral degree and to get the link to the thesis)
    Department: (DAC)
    Mode: Normal
    Deposit date: 06/03/2023
    Reading date: 03/04/2023
    Reading time: 10:00
    Reading place: Edifici C6-E101 - FIB Campus Nord UPC
    Thesis abstract: In the last decade performance needs in Critical Real-Time Embedded Systems (CRTES) domains like automotive, avionics, railway or space have been steadily on the rise due to the unprecedented computational power required for the new complex and performance-eager emerging applications. To meet these computational needs, CRTES industry has been increasingly resorting to high-performance multicore and manycore processors that can cater for the required performance in a cost-efficient manner. To that end, relatively simple bus-based multicore processor designs have been successfully deployed in general-purpose computing to provide good performance at low energy and area cost. However, these solutions quickly become ineffective with larger core counts as the bus becomes a major performance bottleneck. For this reason, bus-based designs have started migrating to Networks on Chips (NoCs) designs like trees, rings, meshes or torus topologies, which are being increasingly adopted in CRTES to offer multiple point-to-point connections.Software timing is a paramount concern in the design and deployment of CRTES as correctness of the provided functions is typically not only determined by the delivered results, but also by the time at which those results are delivered. Domain-specific safety standards advocate for the adoption of software timing analysis techniques in the software development life-cycles as a necessary step to ascertain and guarantee all functions in the system execute timely and to prevent timing misbehavior to arise at run time. Timing concerns become particularly relevant to support three main phases in the CRTES development process: Verification Phase (budgeting), Validation Phase (testing) and Enforcement.Performing an efficient, industrial-quality timing analysis in the presence of complex multicore and manycore processors with complex hardware features like NoCs is complicated by the non-negligible timing interference arising when multiple cores contend in parallel to the same shared hardware resources through the interconnects. Multicore interference causes the execution time of a task to depend on the other tasks in the system, making it extremely difficult to characterize software timing in a trustworthy yet tight manner.The main challenges arise (i) in the budgeting phase, when deriving tight upper-bounds to the worst theoretical contention impact that requests can experience in traversing the NoC from their source to their destination, and (ii) in the validation phase, when tracking the actual multicore contention tasks generate on each other.This Thesis addresses the problem of enabling efficient and effective contention analysis and characterization in NoC-based CRTES. While most of the works have focused on the verification phase, this Thesis addresses all three main steps in the overall software timing analysis in manycore processors. On the verification side, we propose EOmesh and NoCo solutions that optimize wormhole NoCs¿ (wNoCs) configuration to lower WCET and obtain tight WCET estimates while improving CRTES performance. On the validation phase, we propose a technique to breakdown the contention that cores generate each other in wNoCs. To that end, we introduce a Golden Reference Value (GRV) on top of a PairWise Contention (PWC) metric that accurately identifies contention sources in wNoCs and provides a detailed multi-dimension contention breakdown, and a comparative analysis on the evolution of source contention identification in wNoCs. Finally, we cover a fundamental requirement in the enforcement phase by proposing MCCU, a software/hardware solution that performs fine-grain tracking of cores accesses in shared resources and enables, via configuration registers, preventing cores to cause more interference on its contenders than budgeted by the system designer.
Reading date: 05/04/2023
  • DUAN, XUN: Impulse maneuver design for a solar sail spacecarft in the restricted three-body problem framework
    Author: DUAN, XUN
    Thesis file: (contact the Doctoral School to confirm you have a valid doctoral degree and to get the link to the thesis)
    Department: Department of Physics (FIS)
    Mode: Change of supervisor
    Deposit date: 08/03/2023
    Reading date: pending
    Reading time: pending
    Reading place: pending
         VOCAL: QIAO, DONG
         VOCAL: XIN, NING
    Thesis abstract: A solar sail is a method of spacecraft propulsion that uses only the solar radiation pressure (SRP). The main research object of this thesis is a solar sail spacecraft in the artificially created libration point orbits. It proposes a strategy to accomplish impulsive maneuvers by changing the parameters of the sail. The main new results are the following:1. Computation of artificial libration points as a function of the parameters of a solar sail (cone angle ¿, clock angle ¿, and lightness number ¿).The SRP is an additional repulsive acceleration in the CR3BP. As a result, the CR3BP equilibrium points L1, L2¿L5 are shifted from their original positions. The new points SL1, SL2¿SL5 correspond to positions in the rotating system where the gravitational, centrifugal, and SRP forces are balanced. These points can be represented as functions of the sail parameters ¿, ¿, and ¿. Determination and adjustment of the solar sail parameters, computation of impulse maneuvers and their application to heteroclinic orbit transfers between Lissajous orbits plus a sensitivity analysis of the parameters of the maneuver for orbit transfers. The dynamics of solar sail maneuvers is conceptually different from classical control maneuvers, which rely only on impulsive changes to the velocity of a spacecraft. Solar sail orbits are continuous in both position and velocity in a varying vector field, which opens up the possibility for the existence of heteroclinic connections by changing the vector field with a sail maneuver. Based on a careful analysis of the geometry of the phase space of the linearized equations of motion around the equilibrium points, the key points are the identification of the main dynamic parameters and the representation of the solutions using the action-angle variables. The basic dynamic properties of the connecting families have been identified, presenting systematic new options for mission analysis in the libration point regime.Based on the proposed method for making impulse maneuvers, this thesis has carried out extensive research: (1) By applying a single-impulse maneuver, two spacecraft can reach the same final Lissajous orbit despite starting from different initial phases. (2) A transfer strategy is proposed that uses multi-impulse maneuvers. The initial and final solar sail parameters are fixed. (3) A spacecraft can use multi-impulse maneuvers to make back-and-forth jumps between the initial and final artificial libration point orbits.2. Avoidance of forbidden zones considering impulsive maneuvers with the sail.There is a cylinder-like zone around the Sun--Earth axis where solar electromagnetic radiation is especially strong. The L1 libration point lies on this axis and is between the two bodies. The Earth half-shadow in the L2 region can also prevent a spacecraft from obtaining solar energy. Both problems can be modeled by placing a forbidden or exclusion zone in the YZ plane (around the libration point), which should not be crossed. To simplify and visualize the avoidance of forbidden zones, this thesis projects the 3D forbidden zones into the so-called effective phase plane (EPP), which has dimension 2. 3. Station-keeping of a solar sail moving along a Lissajous orbit.The designed station-keeping procedure periodically performs a maneuver to prevent the spacecraft to escape from a certain Lissajous orbit. The maneuver is computed so that it cancels out the unstable component of the state. Moreover, it is assumed that there is a random error in the execution of the maneuver. Considering the maneuvers performed every month, we show that the spacecraft can remain near the artificial libration points for at least 5 years, which demonstrates that station-keeping using sail reorientations to produce multiple impulses can be effective.
Reading date: 12/04/2023
  • CAMPHAUSEN, ROBIN: Quantum-enhanced imaging with SPAD array cameras
    Thesis file: (contact the Doctoral School to confirm you have a valid doctoral degree and to get the link to the thesis)
    Department: Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO)
    Mode: Normal
    Deposit date: 22/02/2023
    Reading date: 12/04/2023
    Reading time: 15:30
    Reading place: ICFO, Mediterranean Technology Park, Avinguda Carl Friedrich Gauss, 3, 08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona
    Thesis director: PRUNERI, VALERIO
    Thesis abstract: Entangled photon pairs can enhance optical imaging capabilities. Phase imaging allows detecting fine detail of transparent samples without potentially invasive fluorescent labelling, and here entanglement enables a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) than possible with only classical light. Spatial correlations from spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) photon pair sources can also be used to increase spatial resolution and robustness to noise and aberrations in imperfect optical systems. Quantum imaging therefore represents a powerful approach to push imaging science beyond its current limits.Until recently, the principal barrier to implementing useful quantum imaging schemes based on entangled photons has been technological, as scalable image sensors capable of multi-photon imaging were unavailable. However, this situation has changed with the development of single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) array cameras, as well as efficient high brightness entangled photon pair sources based on SPDC. These advances have led to the required components now approaching relative technological maturity, opening the window towards engineering useful and scalable systems that exploit entanglement in order to improve optical imaging.In this thesis, we show the development of a quantum imaging platform able to perform practical and fast spatially resolved multi-photon coincidence imaging with high SNR. Special focus is placed on wide-field entanglement-enhanced phase imaging capability, in order to extend experimental sensitivity beyond limits imposed by classical light. The main components of our platform are: sources of hyper-entangled photon pairs, a large field-of-view optical imaging system with phase measurement capabilities, and coincidence imaging using SPAD array cameras. More specifically, the thesis describes:¿The first realization of a wide-field entanglement-enhanced phase imager. Wide-field here refers to the ability to acquire images across the entire field-of-view simultaneously (i.e. without need for pixel-to-pixel scanning, sometimes also called full-field). Quantum-enabled super-sensitivity in phase imaging beyond the capability of equivalent classical measurement is demonstrated by careful experimental noise and resource analysis methods. Our system¿s capabilities were tested through several sample measurements corresponding to use cases with real-world relevance, including nanometre-scale feature step heights in transparent material, biomedical protein microarrays, as well as birefringent phase samples.¿The development of general experimental and numerical tools to calculate photon pair coincidence images and videos from SPAD array cameras, with photon-counting and time-tagging readout modalities, as well as the retrieval of phase images resulting from multi-photon entanglement interference, by adapting techniques from interferometry and holography. We performed also a detailed study and optimization of the influence of different experimental parameters resulting image quality factors.¿The evolution and optimization of our system towards real-time quantum imaging capability. Acquisition speed is a key element of usefulness, and in this thesis we integrate, first, a visible-wavelength entangled photon source, and second, a novel time-tagging SPAD array camera. The resulting entanglement-enabled imager presents an improvement by at least four orders of magnitude in measurement speed compared to previous state-of-the-art demonstrations, resulting in the ability to record ~Hz frame rate entangled photon pair coincidence videos. We show that this system, besides phase imaging, has additional applications in the form of real-time entangled state fidelity monitoring, and real-time point spread function characterization of optical systems, which has important applicability to adaptive optical imaging.
  • CARPIO GARZA, MARCEL FRANCISCO: Development of quenching and partitioning steels (Q&P)
    Thesis file: (contact the Doctoral School to confirm you have a valid doctoral degree and to get the link to the thesis)
    Department: (CEM)
    Mode: Confidentiality
    Deposit date: 10/03/2023
    Reading date: pending
    Reading time: pending
    Reading place: pending
    Thesis abstract: The automotive industry is constantly seeking to improve the performance of the car and at the same time reduce CO2 emissions into the environment, which can be achieved among other solutions through the use of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) that help reduce the weight of the car and keep the safety of the passengers.The search for new steels with better mechanical properties has led researchers to design new alloys with different microstructures. The focus of new research is focused on the development of the 3rd generation of AHSS, which present a good relationship between resistance with a considerable increase in ductility compared to previous generations. It has been seen that this generation of new steels must present a microstructure partially formed by austenite which presents the TRIP effect or transformation induced plasticity. Said microstructure, when submitted to a deformation, transforms into martensite, improving its resistance, while at the same time providing toughness and/or formability to the steel.One of these steels is called quenching and partitioning (Q&P) steel, which have a good relationship between strength and ductility due to their microstructure made up of retained austenite, fresh martensite, and tempered martensite. The production process of these steels is divided in two steps: the first step consists of an intercritical or complete austenitizing treatment, followed by an interrupted quench between the Ms and Mf temperatures to ensure a fraction of austenite, martensite and/or ferrite as required. The second step consists of a partitioning treatment in which a reheat is applied to a particular temperature for a given residence time. During this step, the carbon contained in the supersaturated martensite diffuses into the remaining austenite, stabilizing it at room temperature, followed by a quenching treatment to finish the process.In this thesis, three steels with different amounts of manganese by weight (1.5Mn, 3.5Mn and 5.5Mn) in their chemical composition are designed together with 0.2C% and 1.5Si% (%weight) and are subjected to a industrial Q&P process with parameters designated by the company TERNIUM México. After the heat treatments, the steels were analyzed by means of different characterization techniques for their evaluation.The objectives of this work were to find the best heat treatment route and its implementation at an industrial level, to determine the effect of the manganese concentration in the steel, in terms of the QP treatment, and to obtain a microstructure with the highest possible toughness, maximizing the fraction of retained austenite.From the results obtained it can be determined that: theoretical models do not accurately predict the amount of retained austenite, especially due to Mn segregation problems. On the other hand, although increasing the Mn content tends to increase the retained austenite content, it also increases the risk of generating a lot of fresh martensite in the last step of the QP treatment, which is detrimental for the final mechanical properties. For the 1.5Mn steel, good mechanical properties were obtained due to the microstructure achieved during the Q&P process, which presented a mixture of retained austenite, fresh martensite, tempered martensite, and bainite. On the other hand, the 3.5Mn steel presented the highest fraction of retained austenite with good mechanical properties compared to the other steels. Similarly, the 5.5Mn steel showed an increase in segregation and therefore high manganese zones, in which they tend to present a higher fraction of fresh martensite, reducing the carbon available to stabilize the retained austenite by reducing its final fraction. From the results of the mechanical tests it can be determined that a high fraction of retained austenite does not always ensure good ductility because it also increases the risk of generating a significant amount of fresh martensite.
  • HERNÁNDEZ RUIZ, ALEJANDRO JOSÉ: Visual understanding of human behavior: 3D pose, motion, actions and context
    Thesis file: (contact the Doctoral School to confirm you have a valid doctoral degree and to get the link to the thesis)
    Department: Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (IRI)
    Mode: Normal
    Deposit date: 10/03/2023
    Reading date: pending
    Reading time: pending
    Reading place: pending
    Thesis abstract: Visual understanding of human behavior is a very broad topic that, in the abstract, means understanding what a person or group of people is doing in an image or video.In practice, it can be broken down into a series of steps: detecting people in the image, estimating their posture and motion, recognizing objects in the environment, recognizing the action performed, predicting the subsequent motion, and predicting the next actions to be performed. Each of these steps is a computer vision task, and in this thesis we will focus on the following:- 3D action recognition, identifying actions being performed based on the movements of people.- 3D motion prediction, predicting the motion of a person based on a sequence of previous motion.- Program generation, generate a program with an expected target that can adapt its behavior depending on the context.For each of these tasks, the main contributions of this thesis are:- A novel method for action recognition that uses a 3D CNN in conjunction with Euclidean Distance Matrices to analyze motion sequences.- State of the art results for motion prediction using a generative adversarial network that can generate realistic sequences of up to 4 seconds.- The creation of a new type of neural network, the Neural Cellular Automata Manifold, which can generate programs in the form of cellular automata whose behavior is learned from data.In summary, understanding human behavior is central to many applications and is not trivial to solve. However, we propose methods for recognizing actions, predicting movements, and generating programs, and we have achieved very good results on each of these tasks.

The Doctoral School today

  • 45PhD programs
  • 2131doctoral students 21/22
  • 1591thesis supervisors 21/22
  • 305read theses 2021
  • 982021 thesis with I.M. and/or I.D.
  • 233 I.D. projects (29% from G.C. total)

I.M: International Mention, I.D.: Industrial Doctorate, G.C.: Generalitat de Catalunya