Master of Science in Embedded Computing Systems

Jointly offered by
University of Pisa (Department of Information Engineering)
Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Institute of Communication, Information and Perception Technologies - TeCIP)

Why Embedded Systems?

Over 98% of the computers existing in the world are embedded, that is, integrated into a larger system with the purpose of managing its resources and monitoring/controlling its functions using special hardware devices.

In the last thirty years, embedded computing systems grew exponentially in areas like industrial automation, avionics, automotive, telecommunications, consumer electronics, and robotics. The number of application domains is rapidly expanding in other fields, like sport and medicine (portable monitoring devices), agriculture, game and toy industry, civil protection, and intelligent transportation systems.

How embedded systems differ from other computing systems?

General purpose computers (like PCs or tablets) are developed to provide high average performance to user applications, without paying attention to worst-case delays, which in certain rare and unpredictable circumstances could be very large. In other words, general purpose computers trade performance with predictability. While sporadic long delays are normally tolerated by humans, they could cause a critical failure in a computer controlled system, like a robot or an aircraft.

To avoid such a problem, embedded computing systems must be designed to guarantee bounded worst-case response times, rather than good average performance. Unfortunately, providing such a timing guarantee is not trivial and requires several mechanisms, techniques, methodologies and tools that are subject to a continuous evolution, due to the progress of computing platforms.

Objectives of the Master in Embedded Computing Systems

Designing and developing software for embedded computing systems requires an interdisciplinary knowledge in different technical areas like: The Master of Science in Embedded Computing Systems is aimed at providing both theoretical foundations and practical aspects in the disciplines listed above, forming engineers capable of designing, analyzing, implementing, and testing complex computing systems using the most advanced methodologies.

Strong international contacts

Professors teaching in the Master have strong international collaborations with the top research teams in the world and have established contacts with the major industries in the filed. Examples are listed below.


University Location Topic
University of California at Berkeley Berkeley, California, USA Hardware/Software Co-design
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA Embedded systems architectures
University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia, USA Real-time sensor networks
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Robotics and real-time control
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA Real-time scheduling theory
University of Lund Lund, Sweden Real-time control
Uppsala University Uppsala, Sweden Formal methods for software verification
Malardalen University Vasteras, Sweden Real-time systems
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Stockholm, Sweden Real-time control
University of York York, UK Real-time systems and multi-core platforms
University of Porto Porto, Portugal Real-Time Networks
Polytechnic Institute of Porto Porto, Portugal Distributed Embedded Systems
Technical University of Vienna Vienna, Austria Timing analysis
Technical University of Kaiserslautern Kaiserslautern, Germany Real-Time systems
University of Lille Lille, France Real-time systems
University Carols III of Madrid Madrid, Spain Multimedia systems
Polytechnic University of Madrid Madrid, Spain Multimedia systems and QoS management
University of Catalonia Barcelona, Spain Real-time control
University of Cantabria Santander, Spain Real-time distributed systems

Large companies

Company Location Topic
Ericsson Lund, Sweden Mobile communication systems
Philips Eindhoven, The Netherlands Multimedia systems
Airbus France Safety-critical software for avionics
Bosch Germany Engine control for automotive systems
Magneti Marelli Italy Engine control for automotive systems
Wind Rivers Torino, Italy Real-time operating systems
Tecnalia Bilbao, Spain Automotive systems
Gambro Modena, Italy Dialysis Machines

Small-Medium Enterprises

Company Location Topic
Evidence Pisa, Italy Real-time operating systems and software
IDS Pisa, Italy Geo-radars
ALES Roma, Italy Embedded system design
Absint Germany Timing analysis tools
Rapita Software York, UK Timing analysis tools
Timing-Architects Regensburg, Germany Simulation tools for automotive systems
TimeSys Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Real-time kernels and tools
Seabear Diving Technology Graz, Austria Diving systems

Possibility of international theses

Master theses in collaboration with industries or foreign universities are possible and highly encouraged.