The teaching and research chairs
Since 2008, Inria has been supporting a new form of partnership: teaching and research chairs. Working in collaboration with scientific and industrial partners, these chairs are aimed at strengthening fields that are crucial for technological development and innovation. This collaboration has already given rise to two ambitious projects: a research chair with Schneider Electric and a chair with the Ecole Polytechnique and the EADS foundation.
A new way to reinforce research
Endowed with a significant budget, the chairs enable a recognised figure to engage in original research, develop the teaching of a promising topic and increase the influence of shared teams. The research chairs also enable a stemming of the brain drain, by financing a renowned scientist with a competitive salary and strong support for their research programme: recruitment of PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, development engineers and financing of equipment. The choice of incumbent is made based on a call for applications, across all the Inria research fields. The research project must feature ambitious unifying objectives. It must include several Inria project-teams with a multi-topic approach. The project can also lead to the creation of a new project-team, who will work on a highly innovative research objective.
Schneider Electric Chair
Designing intelligent embedded systems
In September 2008 Schneider Electric, Inria and the Digiteo network created a research chair in the field of intelligent embedded systems and their intelligent energy management. Led by researcher Joseph Sifakis, the chair is held at the Inria-Grenoble-Rhône Alpes centre.
Intelligent embedded systems and their intelligent energy management: these components, which incorporate software and equipment, provide critical functionalities in transport, telecommunications, energy distribution and electric and electronic products. “This chair enables me to build up a team around an ambitious three-year project, enthuses Joseph Sifakis. “It is also an opportunity to benefit from Inria’s own dynamic and strengthen the synergies between the main research sites at Grenoble.”
The two main focuses of the chair are firstly, the modelling, simulation and optimisation of complex systems, and secondly, the design, programming, safety and reliability of computer systems. In February 2010, the chair enabled the financing of a PHD student and two post-doctoral researchers to work on an initial research programme at the integrative research centre (CRI) of the International software and smart systems cluster (Pilsi). A programme focusing on efficient energy management was also put in place.
Joseph Sifakis is the first incumbent of the Inria – Schneider Electric joint chair. Director of research at the CNRS, he founded the Verimag laboratory at Grenoble, one of the first research laboratories dedicated to critical embedded systems. He is behind the aerospace reference-tool for the design and validation of critical real-time systems. He is well-versed in industrial collaborations, via shared projects with Astrium, the ESA (European Space Agency), France Telecom and ST Microelectronics. In 2007 he was the first Frenchman to be awarded the Turing prize, a major IT distinction. The researcher was rewarded for having developed the Model Checking tool with Edmund Clarke and Allen Emerson, the most commonly used verification method for industrial applications.
Combining research and teaching
In October 2008 Inria inaugurated an international teaching and research chair with the Ecole Polytechnique (X) and the sponsorship of the EADS and X foundations. Known as MMSN, this chair focuses on mathematical modeling and digital simulation.
Headed by Grégoire Allaire, the aim of the MMSN chair is to increase the activities and influence of the joint X-Inria research teams in these two fields. The research is conducted at the Applied mathematics centre (CMAP). Masters’ and doctorate mathematics teaching of the modelling is encouraged there. The goal is to increase the number of Ecole Polytechnique students and applications from foreign students, particularly via grants.
Highlights of the programme
The research led by the MMSN chair focuses on the analysis of partial-derivative equations, numerical analysis, scientific calculation, optimisation and control. The main themes covered are multidisciplinary, multi-scale problems (in terms of time and/or space), optimisation and control of complex systems and inverse problems. Four CMAP research teams are associated with the chair.
Grégoire Allaire is the manager of the MMSN chair and president of the applied mathematics department at the Ecole Polytechnique. A university professor and professor at the École Polytechnique, his research centres on mathematical modelling and scientific computation, particularly for the optimisation of forms and for multi-scale systems. He is a member of the Inria DEFI project-team.