Cecilia Zanni-Merk

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  • Senior Tenured Associate Professor of Computer Science at INSA de Strasbourg
  • Deputy Head of the BFO team of ICube
  • Leader of the Knowledge Engineering group of the BFO team of ICube
  • In charge of the International Relationships of the Mechanical Engineering Department at INSA de Strasbourg
  • In charge of the Center of Computer Based Educational Resources at INSA de Strasbourg

Research Projects

My main research interests are in Knowledge Engineering, and more particularly in conceptual representation and inference processes applied to problem solving in Engineering.

Optimization guided by ontologies and by the capitalization of prior knowledge

This project seeks to optimize the journeys undertaken by a fleet of vehicles in an area, based on a large number of constraints (traffic conditions, vehicle type, "social" or "union" constraints, etc.). In this context, the structuring of the data needed to properly represent a situation and to take into account the constraints with an approach oriented towards multi-criteria optimization becomes essential. We propose to knowledge engineering techniques, particularly the creation of a domain ontology to formalize the model of the knowledge base. In order to improve the performance of the genetic algorithm, we are also interested in the formalization of decisional knowledge to guide the solutions to these practical optimization problems, by the capitalization of e already acquired knowledge during precedent uses of the developed optimization algorithm and the obtained "results".

These research works are funded by the Alsace Region and the city of Strasbourg.

Semantic Region Labeling for Remote Sensing Image Interpretation

The increasing availability of High Spatial Resolution satellite images is an opportunity to characterize and identify urban objects. Image analyses methods using object-based approaches based on the use of domain knowledge, are necessary to classify data. A major issue in these approaches is domain knowledge formalization and exploitation. The use of formal ontologies seems a judicious choice to deal with these issues. Therefore, the aim of these works is to highlight the benefits in the use of a thematic ontology for automatic regions labelling. Description logics (DL) are being used to exploit the knowledge in the ontologies and develop software tools to assist the automatic labelling of satellite images.

In the framework of these works, I participate in two projects funded by the French National Research Agency, FOSTER and COCLICO


This project proposes the development of software for analysis and diagnosis of SMEs. To do this, it is necessary to build a set of knowledge bases on management that will be exploited by a multi-agents system; each agent will have its own inference engine and its own modular ontology on a precise subject. As the domain is management sciences, one of the main problems is the use of knowledge that can be, sometimes, contradictory. The use of modular ontologies on the same domain poses the problem of their alignment; and the use of a multi-agents system, the problem of integration of the results of the reasoning of each agent.

Tnese research works are funded by a local company.

Semantic Technologies for Computer Aided Inventive Design

These works focus on the modelling of the formulation and problem solving processes of TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving). The main objective is the description of all the knowledge bases of TRIZ, to complete the model and make it wholly consistent by the definition of the missing semantic links.

This formalization should allow the development of an intelligent manager of these knowledge sources, with the aim of assisting the TRIZ expert during his activity. Indeed, during the processing of a new case, experts are brought to work with various models at different levels of abstraction. The knowledge manager should suggest the experts the use of the relevant knowledge sources, consistent with the level of abstraction of the model they are building. The manager will also be able to complete "automatically" the rest of the models, by exploiting the semantinc links obtained among the different knowledge sources.

These works are funded by several national companies.


The complete list of my publications can be found here.


  • JAVA programming
  • UML and object oriented programming
  • Introduction to data bases
  • Scilab programming
  • Numerical analysis
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Knowledge acquisition and management


Cecilia Zanni-Merk
ICube - UMR 7357
300 Bd Sébastien Brant - BP 10413
67412 Illkirch Cedex
Tel : +33 (0)3 68 85 45 79
Fax : +33 (0)3 68 85 44 55 
courriel : cecilia.zanni-merk @ unistra.fr