Spot the differences – Google Maps and Route Optimization

Most of the time when we are at a conference or congress, people come to our stand asking ‘So what’s the difference between what you do and Google Maps or Waze?’ and to be honest, the answer is quite simple. These are navigation tools and they are amazing at giving you turn-by-turn directions, but what happens when you need to plan efficient routes with multiple destinations or multiple start points at the same time?

route optimization

Let’s imagine that you have to visit 20 or 100 places in one day. GMaps and Waze won’t be able to tell you the optimal path to all those places, they will just calculate the best possible route based on the order you’ve entered the addresses.

Let’s take it a bit further and imagine that you are now setting up a delivery operation. A few more variables appear now that are crucial to the service you offer:

  • Start/end locations: Do you have one or multiple depots to start from?
  • Number of trips per vehicle: Do the drivers need to come back to the warehouses to continue their deliveries? Do you have backhauls with supplies?
  • Unique vehicle capacity: How much can each delivery vehicle carry? These constraints can affect when and where should your vehicles go.
  • Priority of the delivery: Sometimes CRMs tell us that one particular customer is special and so you might want to deliver their item first.

Let’s face it, navigation apps can’t help you here but a smart route optimizer can. A smart route optimizer is designed to take all of these variables into consideration and generate the best possible route for each one of your drivers. Studies show that last mile delivery represents 28% of the cost of moving an item from the factory to its purchaser. By using a route optimizer companies can reduce the length of their routes up to a 40%. The results? Savings in fuel and maintenance costs and the opportunity to reach even more customers with one shift. Plus you’ll be reducing your company’s carbon emissions (yay! you are helping the planet!)

Routing is essentially a very, very complex maths problem that scientists have been trying to solve for decades. Trying to solve it eyeballing or using a human dispatcher it is going to restrain your company’s growth and that doesn’t make any sense.

Have you ever thought that there might be an easier, faster and more efficient way of planning your delivery routes without using pen and paper?

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What it feels like to be at MWC17 as a small startup

We had the honour to be one of the companies selected by the Catalonian Government to exhibit our technology during the Mobile World Congress 2017 week, and what a week it was!

If we had to describe in one word the sensation we had when we entered Fira Barcelona and saw the immense booths, that word would be pride. We were proud to be amongst titans of the industry such as IBM, Huawei and Intel, but also to be part of the Catalan Delegation -a group of companies selected by the Government to represent the state of the art in tech developed in our country.

acciomobile0007

We had this incredible chance thanks to ACCIO, the Catalan Government agency for foreign investment and business competitiveness. ACCIO also provided us with the space and tickets for the event. The agency helped us arrange the visit of Mr. Jordi Ballart I Pastor, major of Terrassa, a representative from his government and Mr. Jordi Xena i Ibàñez, president of AMTU, the Association of Municipalities for Mobility and Urban Transportation to take the official kick-off picture of a Smart Mobility Poll that we will be leading in the City of Terrassa.

Right before signing the project.

Right before signing the project.

What we saw at MWC17

Everyone knows that events like this are a great opportunity to keep up to date on the latest trends of the industry but is also the best moment to nibble on some free snacks and get freebies from the exhibitors. As always, we were offering our signature fresh croissants during the morning and Sugus, throughout the whole day!

Sparsity's signature croissants!

Sparsity’s signature croissants!

We won’t be mentioning big enterprises like Huawei or Intel because they play in totally different leagues. However, we would like to make a shoutout from here to other companies that were spot on with their freebies and GoPro was one of them. Because of them we had some of our team members signing-up for the daily raffle and jumping like crazy to catch a tee shirt every single day of the congress.  Kompyte, our stand neighbours, were giving away wine and serrano ham and the team from GumsUp had a beautiful ball chewing gum dispenser. Nevertheless, if we had to give an award for ‘The Coolest Gadget’ the prize would go to our colleagues from Versa Design who built and amazing Tetris console from scratch. Another special mention needs to go for SimilarWeb for the amazing Augmented Reality climbing wall they brought in! Check the GIFs below!

AR climbing? Why not!

Addicted to Versa’s console!

Making contacts at MWC17

We want to be honest here and say that, as a small company you need to work very hard to get good contacts out of this event. Most of the important contacts we made during the congress were the condensation of many pre-event hours. Our approach to the identification of leads is very simple yet effective. We started scanning through the list of exhibitors at the congress and sending the first emails a few months before the congress. Then we followed-up with phone calls to close the meetings. The week right before the event we had almost every time slot full. Again, we have to thank ACCIO for organising a Brokerage networking event and for facilitating the meetings with representatives from the Government that were interested in our technology.

Final note

Attending as an exhibitor the Mobile World Congress is always an amazing experience, it will leave you exhausted but the feeling once the job is done and all the contacts are made is priceless. We’re happy with the level of the contacts made and we’re even more excited to see where will the post-event take our company. Also, a quick note to thank everyone who stopped by our stand and showed interest in our company products and services, we feel confident that this congress, and the many more to come, will help Sparsity move and grow into an interesting direction.

 

 

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We are hiring! – Senior Software Engineer (Android)

android

We are looking for an Android Senior Software Engineer to join our team in Barcelona! Our offices are located right in the Technological University of Catalonia, in a young environment where you can meet and discuss about the latest trends in tech with top researchers from all over the world

The ideal candidate should meet the following criteria:

  • Experience in development with a minimum of 3 years developing
  • Android-based mobile Applications
  • Develop in Java Android SDK with heavy focus on application
    performance, functionality and dependability.
  • Multithreating and optimized programming: memory usage, battery,
    connectivity.
  • Careful in design details and UX
  • Experience in Android framework.
  • Experience in Android Studio and others Android development
    tools.
  • Experience in SQLite and GIT
  • Experience using webservices REST JSON, SOAP, XML
  • Open source build automation system: Gradle
  • Demonstrated problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills.

Preferred Qualifications:

Technical background in:

  • Realm, Android annotations and git-flow
  • Kotlin language
  • Knowledge iOS framework
  • Development tools: XCode
  • Understanding of Cocoa design patterns and API design.

Contact

Damaris Coll damaris@ac.upc.edu

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Gotta graph’em all: Pokémon and graph databases

Inspired by the Pokémon Go hype that’s been around these days, at Sparsity felt like sharing with you an application of graph technologies to catch’em all. We will show you how to use a graph database like Sparksee in conjunction with a document-oriented NoSQL database like MongoDB to find the best Pokémon for a battle depending on your opponent.

Remember that you can download Sparksee for free and use it in your own project.

Let’s start with a little Pokémon background, although odds are that if you are reading this, you won’t need it at all.

All Pokémon creatures and their moves are assigned to a certain type [1]. From generation 1 to 6, the latter being the most recent Pokémon generation in production, there are 18 of those types. Each type has strengths and weaknesses when facing other Pokémon in battle. These can be grouped into 5 different relationships that define how effective will a creature’s defence or attack be.

→ Receives 1/2 damage from opponent
→ Receives 2x damage from opponent
→ Inflicts 1/2 damage to opponent
→ Inflicts 2x damage to opponent
→ Inflicts no damage to opponent

As we are conceiving the graph as a whole, we should simplify the relationships as they are different sides of the same coin. To match the visualisation of the edge direction with the meaning of its label, we will use the “inflicts” relationship.

 

Strengths and weaknesses graph:

pokemon-graph

To create the graphical representation of the graph we used a table by Sheri-B.

We created two subgraphs to simplify its visualisation –one of them highlighting the positive relationship types (edges called inflictsx2) and the other one the negative relationship types (inflictshalf and nodamage edges).

 

Inflicts x2 subgraph:

pokemon-graph-2x

 

Inflicts 1/2 and No damage subgraph:

pokemon-graph-half-and-null

With the graph, finding the best type match for a Pokémon battle is as simple as a neighbours query. You could use a key-value or document nosql databse like MongoDB to store a list of all gen 6 Pokémon and its types [2]. This way we could find first the type of creature we are facing and then traverse the graph, for the type with the greater strengths against the opponent. Here’s how we would code it:

If T1 is your opponent’s Pokémon type


function Objects Catchemall (T1) {
//We are getting all types that inflict a X2 damage to T1
A = neighbors (T1, edge Inflictsx2, ingoing) ;
//We are getting all types to whom T1 does not inflict any damage at all
B = neighbors (T1, edge nodamage, outgoing);
AB = intersection (A,B);
if (AB != null) return AB;
else if (B != null) { return B; }
else {
    //We are getting all the types to whom T1 inflicts half damage
    C = neigbors (T1, edge Inflictshalf, outgoing);
    CA = intersection (C, A);
    if (CA != null) return CA;
    else if (A != null) { return A; }
    else return C;
}

*Call Catchemall for every type of your Pokémon rival (Pokémons can have more than 1 type)
* This is a pseudo-code check your language of preference at the Sparksee reference guide for the exact neighbors and interseaction operation signature.

 

Example: How to fight Pikachu

To better understand the process, let’s have a look to an example where the Pokémon we have to fight is Pikachu.

Step 1:

mongodb

Which type is Pikachu? Answer → Electric.

Step 2:

sparksee-logo

 Call the Sparksee Catchemall function with T1 == Electric.


Objects result = Catchemall (T1);

Answer → The function returns the Object type Ground because this type inflicts 2x damage to Electric and Electric attacks have no effect on Ground. Thus, this is the best option possible, our algorithm would stop at the first return.

Step 3:

mongodb

Which Pokémons are of type Ground?
Answer → list of Ground Pokémon. If you have one of them, Lucky! Chances are that you will be the winner.

pokemon-graph-electric-super-reduced

Graphical representation of the example.

 

Notes to the article:

 

[1] There are more variables to be taken into consideration in a battle, such as the level, the secondary type or the attacks your Pokémon learnt, but for simplicity we are considering only the type of Pokémon.

 

[2] Optionally you can represent Pokémons as a new type of node and add a belong edge to relate them to the type of Pokémon.

 


Download Sparksee 5.2

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Sparsity presenting CIGO! at Mobile World Congress 2016

header email

Sparsity will be at this next Mobile World Congress edition that takes place in Barcelona from the 22nd to the 25th of February.

We will have a stand in the Catalonia area (Hall Congress Square CS50) presenting our new Smart Mobility platform: CIGO!.

CIGO! is a cloud platform to make mobility decisions actionable through mobile apps. CIGO! helps cities and companies make sense out of the data available improving their operational efficiency to make an impact on the mobility and ultimately in the citizen’s quality of life.

We will also be presenting the new Route Advisor and Recommender API. Built on top of Sparksee Mobile, it includes algorithms that will ease the development of any app with routing and recommendation features.

In this folder you can find more documentation about CIGO!, its use cases, Sparksee Mobile and the Route Advisor and Recommender API.

We also invite you to the talk by CEO of Sparsity Mr. Josep Lluís Larriba-Pey, who will present CIGO! and the Route Advisor and Recommender API on Wednesday 24th at 13:00 in the Catalonia booth (CS50).

If you are attending MWC 2016 don’t hesitate to come see us!

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Recap of the year and future outlook for 2016

We wish you a happy holiday season!

Now that 2015 is coming to an end, it’s a good time to look back and go over what has happened in Sparsity over the year. It has been a season of new projects and challenges, but also a year to acknowledge the work done by our team in previous projects.

Thanks to the hard work and great results of the LDBC and Coherent PaaS projects, we have ranked #1 in the first Innovation Radar Report published by the European Commission. Thus, we can proudly say that Sparsity has been considered the SME with the highest innovation capacity in ICT. We also kept committed to using our knowledge and technology to bridge the gap between innovation and its social impact, having started three new projects funded by the European Union.

Sparsity is developing CIGO!, a cloud platform to ease the deployment of mobility policies towards an efficient, balanced and citizen-oriented Smart City. CIGO is funded by the frontierCities accelerator programme under the FP7. CIGO is a platform in the form of a Web App and a set of associated Mobile Apps designed to ease the implementation of mobility policies in an innovative way that benefits four key customer segments: the City Government, shops and restaurants in the city, final users and mobile apps providers.

Sparsity is also involved in the IT2Rail -“Information Technologies for Shift2Rail” project, which aims at providing a new seamless travel experience, giving access to a complete multimodal travel offer which connects the first and last mile to long distance journeys. Sparsity will be participating in the Interoperability Framework for its Semantic Query & Aggregation Engine, and with specially more stress on the Business Analytics Framework (BAF).

During the year, Sparsity has also started a new Tetracom Technology Transfer project based on the research on Query Expansion carried out by the Data Management group (DAMA) at UPC-BarcelonaTech, that will bring the state of the art research into market.

Aside of the new projects, one of the great hits of 2015 has been the release of Sparksee 5.2 with new features like the fastest and more precise community detection algorithm as part of our graph algorithm package, concurrency performance boost in read transactions, faster shortest path algorithm and added support for 64 bits processors on Android.

Over the year we have also attended interesting events and conferences such as the Mobile World Congress, Smart City Expo, Science Business Summit and Connect EU in Barcelona, the European Congress on the Future Internet in Hamburg, the SIGMOD conference and GRADES workshop in Melbourne, HiPEAC Conference in Amsterdam,
We have also successfully organised two relevant events: GraphTA and the LDBC Technical Community Meeting.

Thanks to the team, the Sparksee community and the feedback of our clients and partners, 2015 has been a great year for Sparsity. We believe that 2016 will definitely be another year of accomplishments, full of new projects and challenges and the same will to keep moving forward with knowledge, passion and dedication.

We wish you the best for the holiday season and a happy new year 2015!

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Sparsity at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2015 presenting CIGO!

Sparsity will be at this next Smart City Expo World Congress edition that takes place in Barcelona from the 17th to the 19th of November.

The Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) it’s a worldwide leading event for the smart city industry, with more than 350 renowed speakers, popular side events such as the 4YFN or the BcnRail Congress, exhibition area and smart network activities. The SCEWC attracts thousands each year, making it consistently the top event for exhibitors and visitors alike.

 The SCEWC seeks to give everyone involved the chance to be inspired, share experience and knowledge, strive for innovation, network and do business.

Sparsity will present our latest project called CIGO!

CIGO! is a cloud platform to ease the deployment of mobility policies towards an efficient, balanced and citizen-oriented Smart City.

CIGO! is aimed at:

  • City Governments: To deploy their mobility policies through mobile apps while monitoring KPIs.
  • Points of interest (POIs), shops & restaurants: To increase their exposure and awareness among citizens and tourists.
  • Citizens & tourists: To discover POIs, shops, restaurants and new areas avoiding crowded & overpriced places while getting personalised routes around the city.
  • Mobile Apps developers: To enrich their Apps with new content for their apps and recommendation functionalities.

Our coordinates are:

GV – P2 – Street D – Stand 44915 (Generalitat de Catalunya area)

Make sure to pay us a visit and learn more about CIGO! possibilities.

SCEWC 2015

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Sparsity involved in IT2Rail project: a step towards a new seamless multimodal travel experience

IT2Rail

The IT2Rail -“Information Technologies for Shift2Rail” project is a first step towards the long term IP4 -“IT Solutions for Attractive Railway Services”, which aims at providing a new seamless travel experience, giving access to a complete multimodal travel offer which connects the first and last mile to long distance journeys.

The project will achieve its objectives by taking into account this concept: The traveller is placed at the heart of the solutions, accessing multimodal services like shopping, ticketing and tracking while using an open published framework providing full interoperability.

The following benefits will raise from IT2Rail:

  • Impact on the economics travel services providers escosystem: By supporting full semantic interoperability of interchangeable and loosely coupled tools, data and services, within a distributed ‘web of transportation things’, multiple concurrent implementations will be developed independently by specialist suppliers and co-exist competitively.
  • On time to market for innovations: By allowing an early discovery of potential technological, organisational or business process issues and reducing the risks of expensive redesign and rework.
  • Enrich passenger experience: By having an integrated use case for travellers, services retailers and transport operators.

Sparsity will be participating in the Interoperability Framework for its Semantic Query & Aggregation Engine, and with specially more stress on the Business Analytics Framework (BAF). The BAF is focused on leveraging social, mobile, structured and unstructured data to obtain valuable, actionable insights that allows rail operators, product/service providers, Traveller/Transport Enterprises to make better decisions in order to increase quality of service and revenues, to better adapt their level of service to the passengers demand and to optimise their operations in order to bring and retain more people on the train-urban mobility.

Keep informed about the project here: http://www.it2rail.eu/ and via the hashtag #it2rail from Twitter.

Stay tuned for our next post about IT2Rail with more details about the Business Analytics Framework and our work.

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Help Sparsity win the first EC Innovation Radar prize

To put the spotlight on some of the brightest new ideas in European technology, the European Commission is awarding innovators agents for the first time with the Innovation Radar prize. The award recognises the most promising innovators emerging from EU funded projects in the area of information and communication technologies.

We need your support!

After being considered the European SME with highest innovation capacity in ICT by the EC, Sparsity is now among the 14 shortlisted companies to win the Innovation Radar prize. Taking into consideration the results of the public poll, the judges will announce the winner at the ICT 2015 event in Lisbon on the 20-22 Oct 2015.

Voting is easy: click on the links below for each language and search for Sparsity Technologies on the list.

EN: http://www.euronews.com/2015/09/09/vote-for-eu-innovation-radar-awards

FR: http://fr.euronews.com/2015/09/09/vote-d-apres-vous-qui-devrait-remporter-le-prix-europeen-de-l-innovation

IT: http://it.euronews.com/2015/09/09/voto-chi-pensate-debba-vincere-il-nuovo-premio-dell-ue-per-l-innovazione

PT: http://pt.euronews.com/2015/09/09/vote-quem-merece-o-premio-de-inovacao-da-uniao-europeia

DE: http://de.euronews.com/2015/09/09/stimmen-sie-ab-wer-sollte-den-neuen-eu-innovations-preis-gewinnen

ES: http://es.euronews.com/2015/09/09/quien-deberia-ganar-en-su-opinion-el-nuevo-premio-a-la-innovacion-de-la-union-europea

GR: http://gr.euronews.com/2015/09/09/who-do-you-think-should-win-the-eu-s-new-innovation-award

HU: http://hu.euronews.com/2015/09/09/szavazas-ki-nyerje-az-eu-uj-innovacios-dijat

We truly appreciate your support to make Sparsity grow, thank you very much for your help!

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Understanding Graph Structure of Wikipedia for Query Expansion

Query Expansion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge bases are very good sources for knowledge extraction, the ability to create knowledge from structured and unstructured sources and use it to improve automatic processes as query expansion. Wikipedia, in particular, could be analyzed to see how articles and categories relate to each other and how these relationships can support a query expansion technique. In particular, the authors of this article show that the structures in the form of dense cycles with a minimum amount of categories tend to identify the most relevant information.

Let’s see a little overview on this approach. Read the complete article by Joan Guisado and Arnau Prat, presented during last GRADES 2015 in Melbourne.

Query expansion is the process of expanding a query issued by a user, introducing new terms, called expansion features, in order to improve the quality of the retrieved results. Query expansion is motivated by the assumption that the query introduced by the user is not the best to express its real intention. For example, vocabulary mismatch between queries and documents is one of the main causes of a poor precision in information retrieval systems. Poor results also arise from the topic inexperience of the users. The challenge is to properly select the best expansion features.

Wikipedia has been proven to be a good source for query expansion, but the innovation in this paper lies in the fact of considering the differences between a social network and a knowledge base by:

  • Creating a ground truth consisting of those articles in Wikipedia that provide good results for each of the queries that are the baseline in the experiments.
  • Analysing how the articles and categories of the ground truth are structured within the Wikipedia graph.
  • Identifying cycles of articles and categories as an important structure and also trends within them. 30% of the dense cycles with minimum ratio of categories, are tagged as the best expansion features.
  • Identifying challenging and open problems for graph processing technologies when it comes to exploit structures of large graphs such as Wikipedia

Query Expansion

A quick analysis of the query graphs reveals that they are, in general, disconnected graphs composed by a moderately large connected component. This is an interesting observation as it means that, in general, the terms users introduce in a search engine are semantically related either directly or by means of extra articles or categories. This suggests that Wikipedia, contains this semantic relation encoded within its structure, and therefore, can be exploited. Also, we observe that the largest connected component is clearly dominated by categories.

Read about the results in the experiments here.

If you are interested in query expansion, make sure to check our first post with the basis of this on-going research.

Also, if you are using graphs for your research don’t hesitate to request being part of our Research program where we grant free licenses of Sparksee.

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