In the new millennium, computer-based systems are predominantly used in all human activities. However, since the economy and social relations are centered on computers and devices connected via a network, the use and reliance on computing systems have expanded in recent years. In this new economic and social context, basic human activities such as trade, services, manufacturing, education, entertainment and interpersonal relationships occur in the digital space.

Meanwhile, technological advances have enabled constructing increasingly complex computational systems that process large volumes of data in different formats (such as image, sound, multimedia, and three-dimensional environments). This is because these systems deal with highly complex problems. For example, in the two largest U.S. stock exchanges (NYSE and Nasdaq) most stock transactions are largely performed by automated systems, without human interference. These systems use computational intelligence and data mining concepts to make stock buying and selling decisions in a matter of milliseconds. Consequently, a part of the global economy largely depends on the accuracy and reliability of computational systems. Another recent example is the mandatory use of simulators for issuing driving licenses in Brazil. These simulators integrate concepts of graphics processing, databases, software engineering, human-computer interaction, among others, a construction which entails high-complexity activity.

These highly complex systems do not have their behavior determined separately. Instead, their behavior depends on their organizational positioning, and their interaction with users and other systems that can operate in collaboration or in competition. Thus, what is observed is not the behavior of each system individually, but the behavior emerging from the interaction among the various systems. Problems of this nature are handled by computing systems in the areas of natural resource management, intelligent control of energy systems, natural disaster response, consumption and demand for media products (film, radio, television), among others.

In this scenario, problems require professionals and researchers who study, develop and manage diverse knowledge in multidisciplinary fields. These professionals are not only required to have expertise in computer science but also in areas such as economics, management, business, psychology, sociology and health. In other words, these systems are based on socio-technical concepts.

The endeavor of the Graduate Program in Information Systems (PPgSI) of the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, regards contributing to the solution of highly complex real problems. This goal involves the development of scientific research directed to address these problems and to train human resources with extensive knowledge to solve them. PPgSI offers two academic programs in the computer science field:

  • Master of Science in Information Systems
  • PhD in Information Systems

Aimed at contributing to the solution of real problems, PPgSI defines an area of concentration which includes its research activities, denominated Information Systems (Computing Methodology and Techniques). The purpose of this area of concentration is proposing, developing, implementing and evaluating methodologies and techniques in key fields of computer science which, when integrated, provide solutions to the challenges of different application areas of knowledge.

Additionally, these computational methodologies and techniques can result in tools and products, which in turn can viably provide innovation and technology transfer to the productive sector. Ergo, PPgSI has a robust focus on applied research. Furthermore, the startups that have emerged in recent years have set forth solutions to urban problems by integrating data from different settings and contexts in order to provide extremely useful applications and even changes in customs among people. Examples of solutions presented by such startup companies include: product pricing search (integrating images, data from companies and social networks); search for job candidate profiles in various social networks; and hiring different services (such as taxis and meals) considering the integration of GPS data, images and telecommunication. Some of these companies are consolidated and market leaders in their segment, bringing technological innovation to various sectors of society. PPgSI is driven by this paradigm, so that the in-depth knowledge of computational methodologies and techniques, coupled with knowledge of the challenges in society, can provide intelligent and innovative solutions to these issues.

Within the area of concentration “Information Systems (Computing Methodology and Techniques)”, PPgSI encompasses two research lines: Systems Development and Management and Systems Intelligence. The former covers aspects of management and development of these complex computing systems, encompassing research areas related to Database, Software Engineering, Information Technology Management and Human-Computer Interaction, although other computing areas are not excluded. The latter aims at promoting the development and use of intelligent techniques to help solve highly complex systems related to challenges in society, encompassing traditional research areas in computing such as Artificial Intelligence, Graphics Processing and Pattern Recognition.

In addition, to contribute to the solution of real problems, PPgSI directs its research efforts across ten application areas, namely: Enterprise Environments and Business Processes; Bioinformatics; Biometrics; Economics; Education and Distance Learning; E-government; Internet and Social Networks; Games; Linguistics and Natural Language; Robotics; and Health. These application areas are dynamic, within PPgSI, with respect to the researchers’ interests, society needs and established partnerships.

Graduates’ Profile:

PPgSI Graduates are individuals with a deep knowledge of computational methodologies and techniques, as well as the scientific method, able to integrate concepts from the computing field and the application areas. The Masters of Science and PhD are prepared to use, develop and evaluate computational methodologies and techniques to address the challenges of highly complex systems, paramount skills in today’s society. Furthermore, their pedagogic training enables them to transmit the knowledge developed and thus conduct innovation and technology transfer. In order to form this profile, PPgSI offers compulsory courses in the areas of algorithm analysis and data structures and scientific method. Moreover, they must complement their background with elective courses in one of the two research lines of PPgSI. Finally, their advisors monitor and assist them to direct their knowledge and to integrate concepts so that the final result effectively contributes to the solution of society’s real problems.

In this context and after completing their program, the technical and scientific expertise of PPgSI’s Graduates enables them to work in different function types. They can either continue improving their research skills or they can apply the gained knowledge in different types of organizations. Taking into account the great demand in today’s society for skilled computing professionals, these graduates can work in public, governmental or private organizations in strategic positions and functions that deal with the inherent complexity of current computing systems. These professionals will be fully prepared to work in research and development centers of major national and multinational companies developing high-complexity computing systems. Moreover, considering PPgSI’s focus on innovation, these Graduates are also prepared to be part of startups associated with the young and entrepreneurial profile related to the computing field. These graduates can also teach courses in the fields of computer science and information systems in different undergraduate and graduate courses.

Basic Procedures:
  • Duration: Master – average completion time, 24 months; maximum completion time, 30 months; PhD – average completion time, 48 months; maximum completion time, 54 months.
  • Coursework: five courses taken over 12 months.
  • Dissertation/Thesis: a dissertation (Master) or a thesis (PhD) is required for completing the program, in addition to the coursework.
Objectives and Research Profile:

The master and PhD program should provide the students with a solid base on IS research with relevant knowledge in field research, data collection techniques, methods for analyzing empirical material and means to evaluate their results. IS researchers must also learn how to verify and assess information needs, specify information requirements, design practical systems that fulfill those requirements and also propose improvements and technological innovation for various IS components. To this end, students must gain IT knowledge and a solid understanding of organizations, concepts and processes in order to prepare and enable them to undertake a creative, efficient and effective approach to IT in real-world applications within a wide range of areas of expertise. The academic content of the graduate program includes communication networks and distributed information systems, computational intelligence, system development and management aspects of information systems in organizations.

Desired Background Education for Master’s Students (Undergraduate programs):
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems or equivalents, such as Bachelor’s Degree in Informatics or Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Analysis
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering or Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering with an emphasis in Computing, Information Systems or Information Technology
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a strong emphasis in Computing, Information Systems or Information Technology
  • Bachelor’s Degree in other areas of knowledge (e.g., Social Sciences, Economics, Statistics, Philosophy, Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry) with extensive knowledge in Computer Science, Information Systems or Information Technology
Desired Background Education for PhD Students:
  • Undergraduate or Graduate programs in the fields mentioned above.