CITEC Summer Schools

CITEC's highly successful series of summer schools started in 2010, covering topics related to cognitive structures of motion, attention mechanisms, interaction in verbal and non-verbal systems, learning in living and artificial systems, and phenomena of adaptivity. The 6th summer school in 2017 was focussing on the topic of cognitive architectures.

Keynote Talks

Aim and Scope:

This summer school brought together internationally renowned senior experts and young researchers from computer and cognitive sciences, robotics, biomechanics, interaction design, and philosophy to present, discuss and explore recent advances to cognitive architectures. Focusing on the perspectives of modularity, adaptivity, interaction, shared autonomy and inter-subjectivity the five-day programme was organized around keynote talks by senior experts and hands-on workshops on instances of hypothesis-driven system building.

Participants learnt to build state-of-the-art cognitive architectures using robotic platforms available at the CITEC labs such as the small and modular robot platform AMiRo (Autonomous Mini Robot), iCub, SoftBank’s Pepper robot, or a bi-manual manipulator setup with anthropomorphic hands. Beyond the courses and the talks of the invited speakers, the attendance provided ample opportunities for discussions, and the exchange of ideas. Participants were encouraged to raise questions and bring in their own ideas, which focused on testing hypotheses, modelling cognitive architectures, implementing specific behavioural functions, expanding past models, or provided a proof-of-concept. Ideas of the participants have been raised in the letter of motivation. The focus was either on software or on hardware related topics, and combinations of both.

Invited Guests:

International guests introduced the participants to their approaches and recent cutting-edge work on cognitive architectures.


Each day started with presentations by the invited speakers to ignite discussions on leading questions and offer viewpoints on modularity, adaptivity, interaction, shared autonomy and inter-subjectivity in the context of cognitive architectures for intelligent robots. In the afternoons, participants worked in parallel workshops on four robotic platforms to gain practical experience with implementations of focused experiments with connection to the topics discussed in the morning sessions. This work was aided by accompanying in-depth tutorials. On the final day, an informal demonstration event gave each workshop group the opportunity to present their results to the other participants.

Program Committee:

Stream A - Adaptive Motion

Keynote: Prof. Dr. Andrew B. Schwartz | University of Pittsburgh, USA

The research projects at CITEC in the field of motion intelligence aim at understanding the mechanisms underlying the control of natural movement and action sequences. To this end, the adaptive locomotion abilities of insects as well as humans are studied, their multimodal sensory processing is analysed, and the identified mechanisms are applied to technical systems. Select this stream and you will get insights into the research of the Biological Cybernetics group (Dürr), the Neurobiology group (Egelhaaf), and the Cognitive Neuroscience group (Ernst/Boeddeker).

Stream B - Deep Approaches to Relevance Learning

Keynote:Prof. Dr. Christian Igel | University of Copenhagen, Denmark

From looking inside ourselves to gazing at the stars Machine learning (ML) plays an increasing role in image analysis. This talk presents recent examples from medical imaging and astronomy, ranging from applying standard ML algorithms to hand-crafted image features, over supervised feature learning using deep neural networks, to unsupervised image categorization.

Stream C - Multimodal Learning and Social Interaction

Keynote:Prof. Dr. Kerstin Fischer | University of Southern Denmark

This talk brings us towards a better understanding of daily life interaction, by asking: How do people take their interaction partners into account? And beyond that, addressing a specific problem of Human-Robot interaction design research: How does an understanding of the mechanisms involved in accounting processes can be used to improve robotic systems design?

Stream D - Embodiment and Neuromorphic Learning Systems

Keynote: Prof. Dr. Ralph Etienne-Cummings | Johns Hopkins University, USA

In the current era of microelectronics, the goal has always been to develop processors with high computational power and speed. However the conventional approach based on the von Neumann architecture is still outperformed by biological systems in cognitive tasks such as classification and prediction. This thematic stream focusses on better understanding the computational capabilities of large networks of frequently connected neurons, using biologically inspired electronic systems and get an exposure to latest compact low-power real-time systems with natural applications to the field of autonomous robotics. Further, state-of-the-art methods to extract interaction (i.e., connectivity) measures from multi-channel EEG/ MEG data will be used for studying the interactions in the (human) brain.


In contrast to living organisms gaining knowledge continuously to adapt to a changing environment, artificial systems typically learn in a non-continuous way during a limited period of time. In fact, most artificial systems learn in batch mode, being heavily pre-trained to react to a set of previously specified situations. It is the developer of artificial systems who decides when learning starts and stops.
In the 4th CITEC Summer School, our goal is to understand better the principles of continuous, incremental and life-long development from the point of view of different disciplines including but not limited to: biology, psychology, linguistics and computer science.
The summer school will bring together internationally experts from these field to discuss the principles of learning in living systems and how these principles can inform the design and development of adaptive and flexible artificial systems that learn continuously and in an incremental way over longer periods of time.
We offer keynote talks by the internationally renowned experts and free discussions with them lead by CITEC-groups’ leader working in the area of memory and learning. Furthermore, CITEC scientific and industrial partners will join us to provide a broader view on continuous learning and how it can be and is already implemented in current approaches for building new technologies.

Invited Keynotes by

  • Michael Beetz | Bremen University, Germany
  • Barbara Caputo | University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy
  • Pierre-Yves Oudeyer | INRIA, France
  • Larissa Samuelson | University of Iowa, USA
  • Florentin Wörgötter | Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany

Co-Speakers from CITEC

  • Philipp Cimiano
  • Volker Dürr
  • Barbara Hammer
  • Helge Ritter
  • Katharina Rohlfing
  • Jochen Steil


Humans, as well as animal, artificial, or human-virtual agents are continuously confronted with the problem of understanding. What are the mechanisms that shape communicative behavior, what makes it so efficient in natural environments, and what are the keys for the improvement of it in artificial contexts? Dialogue coordination (alignment) in normal and noisy environments, intention understanding (pragmatic and joint attention), non-verbal cues (gestures and facial expressions decoding), and asymmetric communication are some common challenges for interactive systems, and they require efficient verbal and non-verbal mechanisms. The CITEC Summer School 2012 will focus on such mechanisms from the perspective of experimental psychology, computational modeling, gestures studies, animal communication and human-machine interactions, and will offer keynote lectures and discussions with world-renowned experts in these fields, along with hands-on tutorial streams for deepening and practicing theoretical notions and experimental skills.

Invited Keynotes by

  • Martha Alibali | University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA
  • Kerstin Dautenhahn | University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro | Osaka University, Japan
  • Katja Liebal | FU Berlin, Germany
  • Ivan Toni | Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Herbert Clark | Stanford University, USA




Perceptual systems, may them be human, animal or artificial, are continuously confronted with the need to select, prioritize and structure information coming from the vast and noisy sensory data flow.
Attention mechanisms have been object of interest in multiple disciplines in the last years. Deciding where to look when we search for someting, what information to extract to fast and dexterously act upon objects, which landmarks are more useful for orienting in a maze, how can the external environment be encoded in an efficient way across multimodal perception or which cues of the partner´s behaviour have to be attended in a social interaction scenario, are some examples of cognitive abilities requiring specific attentive mechanisms.
CITEC Summer School 2011 will focus on such mechanisms from the perspective of psychology, machine vision, neurobiology, linguistics and sports science and will offer keynote lectures and discussions with world-renowned experts in these fields, along with hands-on tutorial streams for deepening and practicing theoretical notions and experimental skills.

Invited Keynotes by

  • Ehud Ahissar | Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel: "Closed Loop Perception of Object Location"
  • Dana Ballard | University of Texas at Austin, USA: "Virtual Environments for the Study of Embodied Cognition"
  • Gordon Logan | Vanderbilt University, USA: "Attention and Hierarchical Control of Cognition and Action"
  • Mark Williams | The University of Sydney, Australia: "Anticipation and Decision-Making in Sport: From Conceptual Frameworks to Applied Interventions"
  • Mary Hayhoe | University of Texas Austin, USA: "Understanding Attentional Control in the Context of Behavior"
  • Gustavo Deco | Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain: "Neuronal and Synaptic Mechanisms Underlying Attention"
  • John Tsotsos | York University, Canada: "A View ofVision as Dynamic Tuning of a General Purpose Processor"


The CITEC Summer School series is aimed at top graduate students who are interested in the themes connected to Cognitive Interaction Technology. The vision of CITEC is to create interactive tools that can be operated easily and intuitively - to fit future technology more seamlessly into daily human life. In order to accomplish this, such technology needs to be endowed with cognitive capabilities, and so part of CITEC's mission is the study of the fundamental architectural principles of cognitive interaction. We believe this goal can only be realized through intense interdisciplinary cooperation. The proposed summer school series aims to bring together researchers from a wide range of fields for discussion and exchange of ideas.

Invited Keynotes by

  • Bettina Bläsing | Bielefeld University, Gemany
  • Hanspeter Mallot | Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, Germany
  • David Rosenbaum | Pennsylvania State University, USA
  • Stefan Schaal | University of Southern California, USA
  • Anatol Stefanowitsch | University of Hamburg, Germany
  • David Wolpert | NASA Ames Research Center, Stanford University Aeronautics and Astronautics Dept., USA

Workshop Streams

  • Stream 1 - Biorobotic Vision
  • Stream 2 - Complex Human Movement - Neurocognition and Neuroinformatics in Action
  • Stream 3 - Interaction, Language and Space
  • Stream 4 - From Perception to Behavior