Call for Projects (Phase 2, 2019-2022)

In September 2015 the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Cyber-Physical Networking (CPN)” (SPP 1914). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Vision and Goals

The increase of data rates of communication systems has been one of the main research objectives of the past decades leading to the modern information society of today. Recently, we see a rapid spread of cyber-physical applications such as smart production, smart grid, and infrastructure systems. In such systems feedback control loops are closed over the communication channel imposing real-time requirements on the communication system. Predictably low latency is generally a desirable property; however, it challenges concurring requirements for high reliability, spectral and energy efficiency of the communication system in particular in wireless communication. Classical approaches for the independent design of communication and control have clearly reached their limits.

The goal of the Priority Programme is to develop the theoretical and architectural basis for the paradigmatic change from throughput- to real-time-oriented communication for networked control systems. In order to meet the requirements of cyber-physical applications a tight (horizontal and vertical) integration of all communication, control and system components is needed to fully exploit their individual elasticity and mutual adjustment potential. Ultimately, this requires joint communication, control and systems design methodologies. The Priority Programme aims at developing system-wide concepts and theories of modelling, analysis, coordination, and optimisation of the communication system and its components for networked control systems and real-time sensitive applications. It requires a novel unified consideration of models and methods from communication networks and systems, control, and information theory.


The research within this Priority Programme is expected to cover the following areas:

1) Understanding the fundamental trade-offs between communication and control system: fundamental limits for communication latency, reliability, efficiency, and control performance including the role of feedback/side information; joint analysis methods for communication, control, and operating systems and corresponding joint optimisation metrics defining the interfaces between those systems; mathematical models and analysis of interacting communication and control system dynamics considering resource constraints

2) Design methods for horizontal/vertical coordination and control, surpassing the limitations of todays abstraction: co-design and adaptive feedback mechanisms for control and protocols over unreliable communication channels such as wireless; distributed control and communication in large-scale systems: architectures and adaptive reconfiguration; latency-aware horizontal/vertical coordination: interfaces, integration of network, operating system and applications

The Priority Programme focusses on innovative and multi-disciplinary approaches. Accordingly, we specifically invite proposals that offer a holistic approach to cyber-physical networking and methodologies to tightly couple multiple components. Not within the scope of the Priority Programme are projects solely focusing on single aspects, including classical cross-layer optimisation approaches, classical approaches to networked control with a high level of abstraction of communication properties, optimisation of individual communication, control, or software components, proprietary solutions for particular applications/domains such as homogeneous network domains, ubiquitous/pervasive computing, organic/autonomic computing, and sensor-actor networks.

To enable the required breakthrough for networking in cyber-physical systems, the combination of multidisciplinary competences is required. Hence, the Priority Programme aims at bringing together experts from different disciplines including communication networks and systems, control, and information theory. Paired cooperation projects between researchers from these fields are particularly encouraged. A coordinating project will be implemented to stimulate the synergies and the networking between the projects, organise joint workshops and dissemination activities, facilitate international exchange, promote young researchers and deal with gender issues. Further information concerning the research orientation of the programme can be found at the programme’s website.

Focus of the Second Phase

The emphasis of the second phase is thought to further advance these theoretical concepts and methods, and to evolve them towards experimental scenarios, such as smart production or smart grids. As the work has been performed in interdisciplinary teamwork between researchers from control theory and communication systems it should be continued as such and strengthen the focus on the co-design of cyber-physical networks for real life scenarios.

Collaboration opportunities

Projects have the opportunity to collaborate with principal investigators in the United States of America who in turn can apply for their own funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF). The collaborators’ proposals will be individually and separately reviewed following the review processes of the respective funding authority. It is expected that all projects, independent of already announced collaborations, are ready to participate in and support joint workshops organised between the DFG and NSF.


Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 3 April 2019. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must register to the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system “elan” by 20 March 2019 to submit a proposal under this call. The review colloquium for the Priority Programme will presumably be held in May/June 2019 in Aachen.

More information on the application procedure

Please refer to the DFG’s official call for more information on the application procedure.