CS at Grenoble

The academic CS community of Grenoble is quite large for french standard (around 1500 people). Thus, as always in France, it is split in numerous entities. This informal page is just to give you some hints to understand the complex landscape.

French “spaghetti” research organization in CS

In France, the Universities (big buildings with the students inside) do not do directly research (I am oversimplifying here). The departments of the universities are mostly teaching departments. The teachers (associate professor and full-time professor) paid by universities, do half-time research in an administrative entity named “laboratory”. In CS, the laboratory is often supported simultaneously by several entities, namely universities and national research institutes.

Eg. my laboratory, the LIG, is supported by CNRS, INRIA, Grenoble INP, UJF, UPMF (see below). A laboratory is a set of teams (CNRS naming scheme) and team-projects (INRIA naming scheme).

In computer science, the number of professors and associate professors paid by university is much larger than the number of full-time researchers paid by the national institutes. Everybody works together in the teams of the laboratories.

Grenoble CS community

The Grenoble academic CS people is composed of roughly 1500 researchers (including PhD students) grouped by thematic entities, named laboratories, such as
LIG (computer science), LJK (applied mathematics), G-SCOP (combinatorial optimization), Gipsa-lab (automation and signal processing), Verimag (checking and system).
This number of 1500 researchers does NOT include CS researchers from private companies of Grenoble, like ST microelectronics, Orange Labs, Rank Xerox, Bull, etc…

LIG laboratory

My previous laboratory, namely ID merged with 7 other small laboratories to become LIG from a previous federation named IMAG build with the splitting of previous laboratories. Now (2015) around 25 teams, with around 500 CS researchers, including PhD students. It is supported by the two Grenoble science universities (UJF and Grenoble-INP), the economy university (UPMF), the national research agency (CNRS) and partly (half of the teams) by the national research agency in computer science and automation (INRIA).

Pilsi (temporary name)

Former president Sarkozy sells part of EDF (Electricty of France) in order to finance big projects in few main universities. Thus 6 years later, we got part of the money and start build a big computer science building on the campus. This building will include the LJK, Verimag and half of the LIG.

Univ. Grenoble-Alpes (U.G.A.)

The Shanghai ranking induces hierarchical major changes. After the student riots of 1968, the french universities were splited by thematic (Natural science (including math and CS), Human science (including economy), Languages). Now, the numerous small universities are merging to become more visible.

UJF, UPMF and Stendahl are fully merging and, with Grenoble-INP, architecture school, management school and Univ. of Savoie are creating the Univ. Grenoble-Alpes. Local branches of national research institutes are also associated in the entity: CEA, CNRS, Inserm, Inria.

UGA is not fully formally created yet, but it will be ready in 2013, 2014, 2015, January 2016.

Around 2018, the merge will be more complete: Grenoble-INP may become
the main part of the engineering department of UGA.

Grenoble INP

Grenoble-INP (GrenobleTech: Grenoble Institute of Technology) is a science university composed of a set of engineering schools “à la française” (i.e. delivering full Master of Science and PhD). It changes its name in 2008 from INP Grenoble (INPG) and even before IPG. Engineering school names change too in 2008. ENSIMAG becomes Ensimag (Yes ! We fight to grossly keep the old name. And, if you ask, cases matter too :-) ). Around 5300 students (2012) are registered at Grenoble-INP.

Physicists need computer.

Grenoble-INP (In fact, IPG) was created after an electricity lecture success (Grenoble was the French industrial electricity birth place in the end of 18th century) but the reluctance of Grenoble University to create a chair in a such applied science. Mid-20th, nuclear physicists settle large research facilities. Physicists need computer. Thus IPG create a department of computer science. This department became Ensimag.


Joseph Fourier University (UJF) is a classical science university. It is quite large by french standard (17000 students).


Inria is the national research agency in computer science and automation. For my team, it gives around 40% of the funding of the team (including salary). INRIA became Inria (Same communication fashion victim as INPG ?) in 2011.


CNRS is the national research agency in everything (physic, mathematics, economy, archaeology, chemistry, Egyptology, humanities, glaciology, … See section list ). The 7th section of CNRS, among 41, is Computer Science. This section of CNRS is roughly the same size as the Inria. Its direct funding to my team is smaller than Inria, but it participates a lot to the Laboratory “life” (systems administrators, network administrators, library’s staff, administrative staff).


In order to confuse enemy, the department of computer science of UJF change its name from UFR IMA to UFR IMAG and now UFR IM2AG (IMAG was the former federation of research laboratories). UFR IM2AG joined the former Computer Science and Applied Mathematics department with the former department of Mathematics.

Master of Science in Computer Science

Thus there are two scientific universities: Grenoble INP (small, a set of engineering schools) and UJF (large, standard university). Both deliver Master of Science in Computer Science. All lectures on research topics of the 2nd year of Master and later in PhD are common to both university.

PhD diploma are given by the University of Grenoble.

Polytech Grenoble

UJF has also its own engineering school “a la française”, delivering also a MSc in computer science. Its CS department is named RICM. To confuse enemies, it joins a group on engineering schools related to universities named Polytech. There is no link with Grenoble INP, member of the national polytechnic institut group (INP).


Grenoble-INP was translated in English in Grenoble Institute of Technology (git !). The name is changing to GrenobleTech.

In summary, former National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble will be name GrenobleTech, and the unrelated Engineering School of UJF is named PolyTech Grenoble.

University of Grenoble

From 2009, a new entity appears: the Grenoble University . This entity is still an (almost) empty shell over the “real” Grenoble universities (Grenoble-INP, Stendhal, UJF, UMPF). It is replace by UGA.

GU was not a completely empty shell as it was responsible for the PhD students of the doctoral schools and then it delivers now the PhD diploma. Foreign exchange were also signed under its umbrella.