multimedia @ VU

talk show tell print


who-am-i? / short / eliens.net / history

In my student years I explored the intellectual and aesthetic arena, including the visual arts, electronic computer music, and what in retrospect may be regarded as the foundations of Artificial Intelligence, that is philosophy, logic, psychology and computer science. At a certain stage, I took up an interest in theoretical computer science, which resulted in a Ph.D. degree on the design, semantics and implementation of a distributed logic programming language, about which I published a book,  [DLP]. During my employment at the VU, the focus shifted towards software engineering, and in particular object oriented programming, which resulted in a text book of which a second edition has appeared,  [OO]. Gradually, I developed an interest in hypermedia, multimedia user interfaces and the Web, which took shape in the DejaVU project. The DejaVU project has resulted in the hush library,  [HUSH], that has been used in the Software Engineering Practicum, and extensions of hush such as the simulation library sim,  [SIM], that has been used for BWI courses. The project also led to a series of publications concerning the Web, which appeared on a number of successive Int. WWW Conferences,  [Music][Jamming], as well as other conferences,  [Animate][Simulate]. In that time I also organized two consecutive workshops for the WWW5 and WWW6 conferences, entitled, respectively, Programming the Web and Logic Programming and the Web. The DejaVU project attracted many students of which a selection became research assistents, studying topics such as hypermedia, simulation and visualization, and task modeling and groupware. In 1998, I got involved in multimedia retrieval research, in an exchange with the CWI, which resulted in an experimental musical feature detector for MIDI as well as an NWO proposal for the RIF project to extend this approach to virtual worlds and VRML. My interests at that time may be summarized as, in brief, knowledge management, visualization and retrieval in 3D VRML-based virtual worlds.

Over the years my interest in logic-based approaches has never disappeared, as testified by the software architecture developed for multimedia feature detection, and a study group at the VU focussing on the application of logic-based programming in software engineering applications, which was active until august 2000 when my Ph. D. students finished their theses.

Around november 1999, the first Java-based implementation of DLP became available. At that time, I had a post-doc working at the WASP project for about half a year. The WASP project focussed on web agents, but since the actual work on the project started so late, we decided to merge the WASP and RIF projects, that is to work on agents in virtual environments. When the project at CWI stopped, due to changes in personell, we (almost immediately) extended DLP with VRML, using the Java External Authoring Interface for VRML. This change in directions resulted in a number of publications, among which  [Community], which describes the application of the DLP+VRML platform to multi-user 3D communities and games. All in all, my interest in visualisation and 3D, has led to four consecutive publications at the international Web3D Symposium.

In retrospect, the research may be characterized as research in intelligent multimedia, in particular the combination of DLP and X3D/VRML may be regarded as an innovative step in this field. Our focus of attention now is to improve this platform and to include XML-based standards for the description of worlds, behaviours and also contents, to arrive (in the end) at an XML-based platform for rich media, driven by agent technology. Actually, my interest in XML is not surprising, since we developed probably the first SGML-based web browser (with hush applets) already in 1995.

At the end of the previous millenium, I made an effort to put all research work online, including papers, talks, and software documentation. In addition, my educational material is becoming available in the form of online lectures. With the second edition, I have also developed an online version of my book Principles of Object-Oriented Software Development, that allows for immediate presentation. As a pet project, I extended this format to include 3D presentations, which I liked to have for my multimedia courses. A paper, entitled what is the secret of the slides? is in preparation. This presentation feature is, for example, also available in my introduction multimedia, a book that I am writing for the introductory multimedia course.

At the end of 2003, the Intelligent Multimedia Group has produced numerous papers in the field of intelligent agents and virtual reality (for example three publications in the Interactive Virtual Agents conference in Irsee, Germany), and the research has also resulted in a state of the art platform for intelligent multimedia, which is now relatively stable. In addition, our educational activities now only concern (technical) multimedia. Nevertheless, although OO is no longer in the focus of my interest, I was pleased to receive translations of my OO book both in russian and chinese.

In may 2006 uur mission statement still is:

... to study aspects of the deployment and architecture of virtual environments as an interface to (intelligent) multimedia information systems

As a follow up on our intelligent multimedia research, in which we developed a platform for intelligent agents in 3D virtual space, we now focus on the use of game technology for immersive serious applications, in particular:

This research is, at the moment of writing, the end of may 2006, still in its inceptive and explorative phase, and primarily done in cooperation with students as part of the regular multimedia courses or individual projects.

In 2006 and 2007 I was involved in a number of projects, cooperating with partners outside of the Faculty of Sciences. As I wrote in report 2006

Time never stands still. After observing that times flies like an arrow in my report 2005, there have been many developments. First of all, I am happy to observe that most of the planned publications have been realized, and that apart from the uncertainty about multimedia @ VU, which led to a number of discussions with the management, the future does not look so bad.

The overall direction of research as outlined in research plan 2006 which is oriented towards the application of game technology in various application domains seems to be fruitful, not in the least due to interest of parties within the VU, albeit outside of FEW:

The climate game project is done in cooperation with the Climate Centre to prepare a submission for the Academische Jaarprijs. The Second Life project is done in cooperation with among others Frans Feldberg from FEWEB, and has resulted in a provisional funding of 10.000 euro from the CvB to further explore this initiative in the context of the planned Media Institute. The 1st of march, the opening of VU @ Scond Life was reported on the (national) RTL news television broadcast, and (locally) in Amsterdam covered by AT5 and CampusTV.. Several newspapers, among which Telegraaf and Parool, also reported on this.

Currently, we are developing a demo of Clima Futura, to acquire sponsors needed to take the game in production. Finally, september 2007 I completed the manuscript of topical media & game development, that started as a syllabus for the introduction multimedia course, but has grown into a personal statement expressing my views on a wide variety topics related to multimedia and game development.

what led me to multimedia? / overview 2009


  • 1979 -- Doctoraal Philosophy (UvA)
  • 1979 -- Gerrit Rietveld Academy - painting
  • 1985 -- Doctoraal Psychology (UvA)
  • 1986 -- Doctoraal Informatica (UvA, cum laude)
  • 1991 -- Ph.D. Informatica, prof. dr. J. de Bakker, prof. dr. P. Klint


  • 1979-82: project medewerker Institute of Sonology (Univ of Utrecht)
  • 1981-82: assistent researcher, Dept of Philosophy, UvA
  • 1996-90: assistent researcher, CWI
  • 1990-..: universitair docent, FEW/Informatica/IM&SE, VU
  • 1998-2000: senior researcher, CWI (part-time, in exchange with VU)
  • dec 2008 - juli 2011 -- (part-time) professor creative technology / new media (UTwente/EWI)


  • Professional member of ACM/SIGWEB
  • Professional member of IEEE
  • Professional member of Web3D Consortium
  • member of ANMA -- Amsterdam New Media Association

(C) Æliens 2014