188/4 E-Commerce Group
Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems
Vienna University of Technology
Favoritenstrasse 9-11/188, A-1040 Vienna, Austria

EC Startups

PixMeAwayTravel recommendation platform

ecosioSolutions for the exchange of electronic documents

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188/4 Electronic Commerce Group

E-Business and E-Commerce include, besides other influencing domains, rapid changes to economic and social processes. For this reason, the E-Commerce group pursues taking an encompassing view at such processes reaching from analyzing enterprises and their respective processes to evaluating the entire market, as well as is active in creating ideas and solutions for meeting the demands of the respective stakeholders.

Overall, the E-Commerce group performs research and creates solutions in the Business-2-Business (B2B) and Business-2-Consumer (B2C) domains. In the B2B domain, the group focuses on (i) business (process) modeling and definition and consequently the specification and implementation of e-business systems while considering and contributing to semantic web research and service-oriented architectures, (ii) ontology engineering and information integration, (iii) "Web Science" focusing on network analysis and content as well as text mining. In the B2C domain, the E-Commerce group performs research targeting (i) visual interaction paradigms as well as (ii) mobile applications. Thereby, our group focuses especially on the development and application of our research in the area of e-tourism and its mobile applications.

Parts of the EC group are working on systems based research, namely on virtualized HPC systems, massive-scale data analytics and energy efficient ultra-scale distributed systems. Our goal thereby is to develop speculative methodologies and techniques to allocate resources in an energy efficient way, but at the same time meet requirements of the end users, like the certain latency of the applications. Our approaches are evaluated quantitatively on different scales by simulations, benchmarks or on experimental clusters. We strive to develop generic methods and methodologies but we let our research be inspired by a set of real world applications from different domains like life science (e.g., DNA sequencing) or social media (e.g., Facebook size data centers).

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Outstanding Industry Contribution Award for PixMeAway

The Startup Pixtri from the Vienna University of Technology – E-Commerce Group won the 1st place at the ENTER Conference 2013 for its significant contribution to the growth and success of technology adoption, integration, or use in the tourism industry.

Based on extensive scientific and practical preparatory work, the core functionality of PixMeAway comprises an image-based search and recommendation engine in the tourism sector.
Imagine you want to go on vacation, but yet, you do not know exactly where you want to go or what kind of trip you want to take? In such a case you might query different search engines in the Web by entering text-based search criteria. But what should you enter, if you do not know your travel desires in advance? It follows, that a part of such “un-decided” users enter rough keywords of their trip imaginations, which results in a big amount of “non-classified” information. The other part of these users consults offline tourist agencies to get inspired by professionals. Those professionals mostly work with pictures of travel destinations to find out the hidden desires of their customers in order to be able to suggest a trip. PixMeAway does almost the same online, finds out the user’s travel type via pictures and suggests point of interests, activities, tours or regions.
The platform www.pixmeaway.com works as follows. A user selects the images that particularly attract him or inspire him. The system calculates a certain “tourist matrix” of the user, which comprises seven pre-defined travel factors (these factors are a mixture of travel types and personality types based on scientific standards). By the use of this profile the system recommends appropriate touristic objects.

Technically, the solution is based on a sophisticated recommender system in combination with an administrative backend interface for Points of Interest (places with high tourist attraction) and a module for travel planning. Furthermore, the platform incorporates aspects from social media communities to share trips/destinations/activities/etc. with other users.

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ENTER2013 - Best PhD Workshop Paper Award

Our colleague Julia Neidhardt won the second place at the Best PhD Workshop Paper Award at the ENTER2013 conference in Innsbruck.


To all students, who do Bachelor or Master work with Prof. Dieter Merkl or have any other discussion with him, please come to the reception hours of Prof. Hannes Werthner.

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Innovation award at eFestival 2012, Hungary

Our EC Group member, László Grad-Gyenge, was awarded for his innovation. He won the first place in Innovation category on eFestival 2012, Hungary.

He created a lot nicer and more secure CAPTCHAs than the currently existing ones on the market by launching an animated version. He offers his CAPTCHAs - under certain limits - as a free web service on the website of the product: http://www.hellocaptcha.com/. He was also interviewed on the main radio station of Hungary about his innovation. His first client in Austria is the Austrian Parliament, which uses the HelloCaptcha for the protection of the online consultations. He is now moving to research social networks within the EC Group to progress with his innovations in this rising new area.

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New member: László Grad-Gyenge

We are pleased to introduce the new member of the eCommecre group - László Grad-Gyenge. László studied Computer Science at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. He has experience in the following areas: global optimization (iterative methods), computer vision, natural language processing. His next mission is to study the scale free networks in the social space, and to analyze memes.

László studied computer science at the Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary. He wrote his MSc thesis in the area of global optimization, using iterative methods. He was trying to find good starting points for local searches using function approximators to estimate the space, based on the sample data collected by local searches. He also tried automatic feature extraction to help the function approximators. He finished it in 2001.

To continue his MSc studies, László started a PhD at the same university, in the same area. He applied his search methods in the following areas: satisfiability, geon space, facial expression recognition, exploring the visual cortex of the primates.

Next to his PhD he started to build his own company (www.creo.hu). The primary fields were business application development and web development. For example: http://www.finalexam.eu - an automated text examination system, http://nrk.nive.hu - Europass issuing and adminstration system. He also had innovative projects, that are some of the products of his company, i.e.: www.simplefont.com, www.hellocaptcha.com. His company took his time, so he resigned his PhD status and was building the company for approximately 10 years.

In 2011 he decided to restart his PhD, so László went back to his university, and started to work in the area of computer vision with saliency and eye direction estimation. It was a short story, because after two months his supervisor asked him to switch to the area of natural language processing, and to create a question answering tool, by extracting FAQ information from dialogs. He worked two semesters in the latter area. In the first semester he created a framework called nBoss for web applications in J2EE. The second semester he spent at the University of Vienna as an Erasmus student and built the theoretical background for textual knowledge representation.

As a PhD student László learnt to know Vienna, and liked it very much, so he decided to stay here, if possible. So he applied for the the doctoral college "Adaptive Distributed Systems", he got approved and started to work here in 2012. His next area will be network research. László is planning to study scale free networks and to analyze memes.

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20 years anniversary of ENTER conference

Next year IFITT organizes the 20th ENTER conference. The eCommerce group has always taken a significant role in the establishment of this conference - particularly, Prof. Hannes Werthner who will be giving a keynote "Reflection on 20 years of eTourism and thoughts for the future". Moreover, our colleague Julia Neidhardt is featured in the newsletter of IFITT as a prominent PhD student in the areas of Web Science and eTourism.

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New Topics for Master Theses Available

Classifying and mapping e-Tourism data sets
The scope of the thesis is to apply text mining techniques to classify e-tourism data sets. These sets are hotel descriptions, each description consisting of a set of given attributes (usually Boolean attributes following the so-called GIATA standard) and a free text.

In a first step, these descriptions need to be analyzed and harmonized (on a semantic/conceptual as well as schema level). In a next step the tourism objects need to by classified, using both the set of attributes as well as the textual descriptions. In the latter case text mining techniques should be applied. In a final step these classified tourism objects should be mapped to the “harmonized” data schema. In such a way objects can be easily exchanged between different parties. Web Services should be developed to demonstrate the proof-of-concept. The evaluation is based on real world data. Thorough skills in text mining, Java and Web Services are required. Co-supervisor: Dr. Rainer Schuster.

see all Topics

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Selected Courses in the Winter Term

Lectures covering hot topics like Web Science, Search Engines and E-Commerce

188.921 Web Science
Aim of course: This course provides insights into the structural analysis of social and information networks, particularly the World Wide Web. The participants will gain basic knowledge about network analysis methods and tools as well as their theoretical foundations.

Subject of course: Topics, which are covered, include basic concepts in graph theory, important measures and metrics in network theory, community detection, social network analysis, the small-world experiment, the structure of the World Wide Web, the large-scale structure of networks, and processes on networks.

188.484 Information Search on the Internet
Aim of course: Design and functionality of Internet search engines

Subject of course: Information Retrieval Basics, Anatomy of Web Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization, Recommender Systems, Sociosemantic Web

188.427 E-Commerce
Aim of course: The lecture treats e-commerce both from a conceptional as well as technical point of view. And it deals with the planing, development and impact of e-commerce applications (on a micro as well as macro level)

Subject of course: After an introduction (to Information Society, Diffusion aspects and also Web science), the lecture deals with enterprise and governance related issues (such as IT and organization; competition and strategy; e-marketing and pricing; search, personalization and recommender systems; and Evaluation /benchmarking), Business Models, Market and networks (Inter-organizational systems; Markets, hierarchies and networks; Transactions; Communities; Auctions; and the role of intermediaries) and mobile commerce

For information on all courses refer to here

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We are happy to announce two EC group start-ups


Over 60 percent of Internet users worldwide start planning their next trip by typing one or more destinations into their search engine. Yet according to recent studies, 500 million would-be travelers are not sure where they want to go or what they want to do. The newly-launched travel community platform Pixmeaway solves this problem by offering the world's first image-based travel search engine.

The project team members of the ERPEL project are launching their start-up in the area of e-Invoicing. The company provides an infrastructure tailored to the specific needs of SMEs in this area. Thereby, it especially focuses on lowering the barriers of interoperability between enterprise information systems enabling an out-of-the-box processing of structured business documents across different software vendors.

Doctoral College: Environmental Informatics

Environmental Informatics Logo
The new Doctoral College of Environmental Informatics is now funded by TU-Vienna. The consortium comprises 10 key faculty members from 7 institutes. From our institute, Prof. Silvia Miksch and Prof. A Min Tjoa are involved.

For further information please refer to the Doctoral College's website.

In recent years, Environmental Informatics has emerged as a new interdisciplinary research field that can facilitate decisions regarding social, economic, ecological, and environmental goals based on a variety of information technology measures. This Doctoral College aims to promote the objectives of Environmental Informatics in one of the research focus points of the Vienna University of Technology, "Energy and Environment".