Open All Close All
Wednesday 16th March 2022 - Dr Amal Htait & Dr Umar Manzoor

Dr Amal Htait's talk:


Small pieces of data that are shared online over time and across multiple social networks have the potential to reveal more cumulatively than an individual intends. Which could result in harm, loss or detriment to the individual depending on what is the revealed information, who can access it, and how it is processed (e.g., identity theft, stalking). On the flip side, and in the right hands, being able to reveal information about specific individuals from their online data and activities could have benefits for the individuals themselves and/or the community (e.g., detecting depression signs). In this talk, I will present my previous work on this topic: “DataMirror: Reflecting on One's Data Self”. In addition, I will briefly present a project I am part of (a collaboration with Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics) : “Hierarchies of power in online criminal interactions”.

Short Bio:

Dr Amal Htait joined Aston University in September 2021 as a Lecturer in Computer Science. After several years in industry as a software engineer, Dr Htait moved to academia and obtained a Research MSc and a PhD in Computer Science at Aix-Marseille University, France. Following her thesis, Dr Htait held a research associate position at the University of Strathclyde (2019-2021), where she took part in the EPSRC project Cumulative revelation of Personal Data ( Dr Htait's primary research interests lie within AI, more precisely Natural Language Processing and Sentiment Analysis in text, in addition to Information Retrieval. Her thesis had the purpose of pursuing quality improvement for a multilingual Book search platform, benefiting mainly from sentiment analysis in reviews and search queries. After her thesis, Dr Htait’s work focused more on analysing what an individual’s online profiles, posts and discussions could reveal about them.

Speaker: Dr Amal Htait

Dr Umar Manzoor's talk:

Abstract: Agent-Based Simulations are increasingly being used to study a wide range of complex phenomena, especially where large numbers of entities and complex relationships are needed. The goal in designing an Agent-Based Model is to abstract complex real-world behaviour into a finite set of realistic rules leading to a system of socially plausible behaviour. In this talk, Dr Manzoor will present some of his previous work in this area, which aimed at simulating virtual world similar to planet earth, and create grand challenges (Explain, Predict and Prescribe) for social scientists.

Short Bio: Dr Umar joined Aston University in Jan 2022 as a lecturer in Computer Sciences. He is a Member of BCS and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. He holds MSc in Computer Science (2006, National University of Computer & Emerging Science, Pakistan), and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (2012, University of Salford, UK). From (Mar 2019-Jan 22), Dr Umar worked as Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, UK. From (2017–19), he worked as PDRA at Machine Learning Group, Tulane University, USA. Dr Umar’s current research interests are agent-based modelling & simulation, multi-agent systems, Robotics, NLP, Machine Learning in Healthcare, and interdisciplinary AI applications.

Speaker:Dr Umar Manzoor
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 GMT
Wednesday 2nd March 2022 - Dr Shereen Fouad & Dr Adam Stanton

1st talk: Machine Learning Approaches for Histopathological Image Analysis (Dr Shereen Fouad)


Pathology is a branch of medicine that involves the study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of human tissues. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostic digital pathology is undergoing extensive evaluation. AI has shown impressive accuracy in the identification of imaging abnormalities and promises to enhance tissue-based detection. In this talk, I will present some of my previous work in this area, which aimed at developing AI-based approaches for processing, understanding, and quantifying histological information in digitized pathology images. The accurate interpretation of such information improves the diagnosis of cancer diseases.

Short Bio:

Dr. Shereen Fouad joined Aston University in Sep 2021 as a lecturer in Computer Sciences. She is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Clinical Sciences, the University of Birmingham (UoB), and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. She holds MSc in Information Systems (2006, Ain Shams University, Egypt), and PhD in Machine Learning (2013, the UoB, UK). From (2018 - Aug 21), Dr. Fouad acted as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at the school of Computing and Digital Technology, Birmingham City University, UK. From (2015 –18), Research Fellow in EPSRC project at the Institute of Clinical Sciences, UoB. From (2014-15), Teaching Fellow at the school of Computer Science, UoB. From (2013-14), Research Fellow at the school of Computer Science, UoB. Dr. Fouad’s current research interests are Medical Imaging Analysis, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and its applications in Cyber security.

Speaker: Dr Shereen Fouad

2nd talk: Lexicase Selection in Evolutionary Robotics (Dr Adam Stanton)

Abstract: Lexicase selection was invented to address the many-objective problem spaces encountered in evolutionary programming. By using this selection mechanism, it is possible to effectively evaluate evolving populations on thousands of different objectives, necessary when searching the space of possible computer programs for configurations that encode generalised solutions to problems. Over the last five years, Lexicase has been used Lexicase in the evolutionary robotics domain to search the space of possible neurocontrollers for configurations that encode generalised solutions to physical problems--especially in relatively simple locomotion tasks with many variants. It was found to be a powerful tool for focusing the search on areas with promising general capabilities. Most recently Dr Stanton has expanded his exploration of Lexicase to multi-task many-objective problems. The talk will briefly present his work, current results, and his short- and long-term plans for the research.

Short Bio: Dr Adam Stanton studied Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, then completed a PhD in Evolutionary Robotics at the University of Keele. Dr Stanton was Lecturer at Keele since July 2017, then Lecturer at Aston since January 2022.

Speaker: Dr Adam Stanton
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 GMT
Wednesday 9th February 2022 - Dr Philip Weber & Dr Ricardo Melo Czekster

1st talk: Automatic speaker recognition (Dr Philip Weber)


Automatic speaker recognition has made considerable progress in recent years due to advances in deep learning and statistical modelling. In the forensic context, we can re-use much of the same algorithms and technology to assess the weight of evidence provided by audio recordings (forensic voice comparison). However we have to be particularly careful about selection of data, calibrating and validating systems against a given application (e.g. court case), and avoidance of biases (particularly human factors). In Aston's Forensic Speech Science and Data Science labs (FSSL & FSDL) we are building a state of the art forensic voice comparison system and researching application of similar methods to other areas of forensic data science - scans of fired cartridge cases, videos of people walking, measurements of human remains, for example. I will give an overview of the technology, and of the research we are conducting in these areas. If time permits I will touch on other areas of my own research interest.

Short Bio:

Phil Weber joined Aston in 2018 to work on the award-winning Think Beyond Data programme, which provides consultancy in AI, data analytics and smart algorithms to SMEs in the locality. He has worked in forensic data science since 2020, focussing on forensic speech science. This builds on research interests in speech science, and automatic speech recognition in particular, developed as a researcher at the University of Birmingham. He is particularly interested in crossovers and learning opportunities between human and automatic approaches to speech science, representations and learning. Phil's PhD thesis in 2014 was in the apparently unrelated area of applying machine learning theory to business process mining, and he has worked in applying process mining and modelling methods in clinical domains. Before his PhD, Phil worked in industry in various IT roles culminating in UNIX and storage systems administration.

Speaker: Dr Philip Weber

2nd talk: Modelling and simulation with applications to cyber-security of critical infrastructure (Dr Ricardo Melo Czekster)


In the second talk, Dr Czekster will present his latest research outputs in modelling and simulation with applications to cyber-security of critical infrastructure. He will present previously published papers on features for simulating cyber-incidents in the Smart Grid (, another using BDMP/Attack Trees (10.1109/EDCC53658.2021.00019), and a survey on tools ( Dr Czekster will also outline his future research interests and discuss some issues and tools on Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI).

Short Bio:

Dr Czekster is an active researcher in computing having worked on renowned Brazilian institutions such as PUC-RS and Feevale University. He received his PhD, M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Computer Science from PUCRS University at Porto Alegre/Brazil (in 2010, 2006 and 2002 respectively) with doctoral sandwich in the Laboratoire d’Informatique de Grenoble (LIG) at Grenoble/France in 2007 and in the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS) at Edinburgh/Scotland in 2008. In 2010, he was invited to work at Siemens Corporate Research (SCR) in Princeton (USA) to research performance models and load testing. More recently (2019 to 2021) he acted as Research Associate at Newcastle University working with modelling cyber-security incidents in Cyber-Physical Systems (mostly the Smart Grid). His research interests are on dependability plus cyber-security, modelling and simulation, and Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) in Cyber-Physical Systems deployed in critical infrastructure.

Speaker: Dr Ricardo Melo Czekster
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 GMT
Wednesday 10th November 2021 - Prof Jens Myrup Pedersen

Hacking the hacker


What does the future look like when it comes to protecting our societies against hackers and cyber criminals? Hear about the research in the Cyber Security Research group at Aalborg University, which is focusing on network based detection of malicious activity: This includes collecting information and data on how the attackers are working from a large variety of vantage points - from network traffic analysis to scannings and use of honeypots - and then using machine learning for detection anomalies and malicious behaviour.

Short Bio:

Professor Jens M. Pedersen received the M.Sc. degree in mathematics and computer science and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Aalborg University, Denmark, in 2002 and 2005, respectively. He is currently a Professor with the Wireless Communication Section, Department of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University. He is the author/coauthor of more than 120 publications in international conferences and journals, and has participated in Danish, Nordic and European funded research projects. His research interests include network planning, traffic monitoring, and network security. He is also a board member of a number of companies within technology and innovation.

Speaker: Prof Jens Myrup Pedersen
Venue: Teams
Time: 12:00 - 13:00 GMT
Wednesday 14th July 2021 - Dr Antonio Garcia-Dominguez

Experiences providing automated code feedback to first-year Java programmers


Given the increasingly large cohorts, it is challenging to provide rapid, consistent, and insightful feedback to students in programming courses. Instead of manual code inspection, automated testing is being increasingly adopted to grade student submissions. One typical approach to do this is to reuse existing continuous integration platforms (e.g. Gitlab/Github), but the learning curve involved can be very steep for first-year students with no prior software development experience. In addition, CI platforms have complex user interfaces that are optimised for industrial software development rather than learning and teaching, and lack features to track cohort performance or provide customizable feedback to students.

In this talk, I will demonstrate AutoFeedback, a solution that I developed to support the teaching of the first-year CS1OOP Java programming module, and which has been piloted with 336 students in term 2 of the 2020-21 academic year. AutoFeedback allows students to submit code from Eclipse or IntelliJ with two clicks, and then receive feedback through a dedicated website based on the test results. Students can repeatedly submit before the deadline and receive feedback that they can iterate upon. Tests were designed not only around functionality, but also around program design, common mistakes, or requirements on UML diagrams. Feedback text can be customized at any time, explaining the automated tests, providing clarifications on common error messages, and clarifying recurrent misconceptions. AutoFeedback was generally positively received by students and processed over 18,500 submissions in TP2 of 2020-21: several lines of future work have been identified based on the experience.

Link to the Gitlab repository: AutoFeedback

Short Bio:

Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez is a Lecturer in Computer Science at Aston University (United Kingdom). His main research interests are software testing and model-driven engineering: in both of these fields, the increase in system sizes has required the adoption of AI-based approaches and non-relational database technologies to scale up. This combination motivated a partnership with FoldingSpace on the use of these technologies to extract value from large unstructured repositories. In addition to over 10 papers in peer-reviewed journals and over 40 papers in conferences and workshops, Antonio is a core contributor in several related open source projects. Some of these projects include the Eclipse Epsilon model management languages and tools, the MuBPEL mutation testing framework for WS-BPEL, or the Eclipse Hawk model indexing framework.

Speaker: Dr Antonio Garcia-Dominguez
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 BST
Wednesday 30th June 2021 - Dr Pablo Lanillos

Active inference, robotics and human-like body perception


Recent advances in computational neuroscience have revealed principles that can be applied elsewhere. Active Inference, a mathematical formulation of how the brain resists a natural tendency to disorder, is a promising framework for current challenges in robotics, where adaptation to uncertain, complex and changing environments plays a major role. In this talk, Dr Lanillos will first describe and formalize the active inference approach to robotics for estimation, control, planning and learning. Second, he will showcase, through experiments with robots, the achievements and challenges that we are still facing to give robots a human-like body perception. Finally, Dr Lanillos will discuss some interesting findings that may reveal significant mechanisms of how we perceive and act with our bodies, which may be crucial for safely interact with the world.

Short Bio:

Dr Pablo Lanillos is an Assistant Professor in Cognitive AI within the Artificial Cognitive Intelligence Group, at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. Previously, he was a Marie Curie Senior Fellow working on his project SELFCEPTION, at the Institute of Cognitive Systems of the Technical University of Munich.
Dr Lanillos holds an MSc in computer science and a PhD in computer engineering, both from Complutense University of Madrid. He has been a visiting researcher at the Aerospace Control Laboratory (MIT); the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (EPFL); and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (University of Sydney). He has also been a postdoctoral researcher at the Artificial Perception team at the Institute of Systems and Robotics (ISR) of the University of Coimbra under the project CASIR.
His current main research interests are Neuroscience-inspired AI, Robot Learning, Active Inference, Machine Learning, Body perception and Human-robot interaction.

Speaker: Dr Pablo Lanillos
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 BST
Wednesday 16th June 2021 - Professor Juan Carlos Augusto

An overview of Ambient Intelligence


In this seminar we will cover the area of Ambient Intelligence, highlighting its relation with other more traditional areas of Computer Science, we will use mostly examples of a closely related area: Ambient Assisted Living, and we will also discuss the current topics where more research is needed and are perceived by the presenter as those which can make a big difference in adoption of these technologies.

Short Bio:

Dr Juan Carlos Augusto is Professor of Computer Science, Head of the Research Group on Development of Intelligent Environments and Head of the Smart Spaces Lab, at Middlesex University London. His research focus is on the design and implementation of Intelligent Environments and Smart Cities systems, giving priority to user-centred strategies. He has contributed to 270 scientific publications and has substantial experience as editor of books and journals in these technical areas as well as directing research projects on using sensing technology to help society. For more details see:

Speaker: Professor Juan Carlos Augusto
Venue: Teams
Time: 12:00 - 13:00 BST
Wednesday 31st March 2021 - Dr Cristina Vicente-Chicote

Model-Driven Software Engineering


In this seminar, Dr Vicente-Chicote will introduce the basics of Model-Driven Software Engineering (MDSE), illustrating how it can help improve software quality and time to market. She will also overview some of the research projects she has recently coordinated and the key role that MDSE has played in them (e.g., SA3IR, MIRoN, RoQME). Finally, she will overview some future/potential domains in which the adoption of an MDSE approach has unexplored potential.

Short Bio:

Dr Vicente-Chicote is an Associate Professor at the University of Extremadura (UEX, Spain), where she belongs to the Quercus Software Engineering Group. Her research interests include Model-Driven Engineering, Component-Based Software Development and Context-Aware and Self-Adaptive Systems applied to robotics, industry 4.0 or smart cities, among other domains. She has coordinated and participated in several European and national research projects and published more than 80 academic papers in peer-reviewed conferences and journals.

Speaker: Dr Cristina Vicente-Chicote
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Wednesday 17th February 2021 - Dr Marco A. Gutierrez

Introduction to ROS and Gazebo


ROS is a collection of tools, libraries, and conventions that aim to simplify the task of creating complex and robust robot behaviour across a wide variety of robotic platforms. Gazebo is a robotics simulator that allows to accurately and efficiently simulate populations of robots in complex indoor and outdoor environments. In this workshop, Dr Gutierrez will guide you through a step by step practical session on how to develop robotics software with ROS and how Gazebo can help you test your robotics software so it is ready for the real world once you move it to a real robot.

Given that this is a hands-on seminar, attendants are advised where possible to install ROS2 and Gazebo prior to attending the seminar.
Preferably: Ubuntu (20.04) + ROS Foxy (ros-foxy-desktop) + Gazebo 11
ROS Foxy (desktop package):
Gazebo 11:
Alternatively: Ubuntu (18.04/20.04) + ROS Dashing (ros-dashing-desktop) + Gazebo 11
ROS Dashing (desktop pacakge):
Gazebo 11:

A virtual machine image has been made available for those who cannot install the dependencies:

Short Bio:

Dr Gutierrez is a Software Engineer at Open Robotics. He is currently located in Singapore where he works in the Robotics Middleware Framework (RMF), a collection of reusable, scalable libraries and tools built on top of ROS 2 that enable the interoperability of heterogeneous fleets of robotic systems. He holds a PhD in cognitive vision planning for robotics systems from the University of Extremadura (Spain). He is an advocate for Free and Open Source software and has contributed to a number of robotic and AI-related projects like RoboComp, the Point Cloud Library or Open Perception. He is also an organization administrator and a mentor for some projects on the Google Summer of Code and similar programmes.

Speaker: Dr Marco A. Gutierrez (Open Robotics)
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:20
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 - Dr Marco A. Gutierrez

Open Source at Open Robotics: ROS, Gazebo and more


In this seminar, Dr Gutierrez will introduce some of the open-source projects promoted by Open Robotics, a Non-profit Public Benefit Corporation with subsidiaries in California and Singapore.

"At Open Robotics, we like to create software and hardware platforms for robotics that solve important problems and help others do the same. We believe that one of the best ways to achieve this is through the means of Open Source. Robotics is a great example of how Open Source can really boost the progress of technology. In this talk, we will briefly explain what Open Robotics is and present the main projects they are currently driving. Some of these projects might be familiar to you already, such as ROS or the Gazebo simulator."

The seminar will be followed by a workshop on ROS and Gazebo (tentative date February 17th).

Short Bio:

Dr Gutierrez is a Software Engineer at Open Robotics. He is currently located in Singapore where he works in the Robotics Middleware Framework (RMF), a collection of reusable, scalable libraries and tools built on top of ROS 2 that enable the interoperability of heterogeneous fleets of robotic systems. He holds a PhD in cognitive vision planning for robotics systems from the University of Extremadura (Spain). He is an advocate for Free and Open Source software and has contributed to a number of robotic and AI-related projects like RoboComp, the Point Cloud Library or Open Perception. He is also an organization administrator and a mentor for some projects on the Google Summer of Code and similar programmes.

Speaker: Dr Marco A. Gutierrez (Open Robotics)
Venue: Teams
Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Tuesday 8th December 2020 - Dr Dimitrios A. Adamos

Predicting music preferences through mind-reading

Abstract: This talk will overview Dr Adamos' research efforts in decoding the listener’s brain dynamics to identify signatures of aesthetic evaluation, mined from wearable EEG recordings. They are built upon recent empirical evidence that music-induced pleasure is associated with increased functional connectivity and richer network organization in the human brain. A technology demonstrator for the media campaign of Norway’s largest mobile network operator will be presented. In addition, Dr Adamos' will elaborate on his current work for the collection of human brainwaves during music listening in collaboration with London’s Science Museum.

Short Bio:

Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Computing, Imperial College London, UK
Senior Research Fellow, School of Music Studies, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Previously, he served as a senior teaching / research fellow at the School of Music Studies, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and is a founding member of the Neuroinformatics GRoup. He also has work experience as a senior network and unix systems engineer and was the coordinator of the Òpera Oberta project for AUTh.

He holds a Dipl. in Electrical & Computer Engineering, an MSc in Medical informatics from the School of Medicine and a PhD in Neuroinformatics from the School of Biology of AUTh, jointly supervised with the School of Informatics of AUTh. His research interests include graph-signal processing, geometrical machine learning, neural signal analysis, brain-computer interfaces, internet technologies and neuroscience of music.

He is the author of the academic blog Neurobot. His latest research work has been in the spotlight of TV Commercials, neurotech industry, neuromarketing and business electronic media.

Speaker: Dr Dimitrios A. Adamos
Venue: Teams
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

Wednesday 18th March 2020 - Tuna Nagihan

“Sensor Data Appropriation for Designers through Object Personas”

Abstract:Digital data may have an uncharted potential in the design process of connected devices. In this study, three iterative workshops were conducted with design students to learn how designers can use sensor data in the design process. Each workshop was carried out in three phases; before, during and after. Before the workshops, the researchers collected data from everyday kitchen appliances and conducted pre-interviews with the owners of the machines. During the workshops, designers were presented with collected data graphs to create object personas and use them in the design process. After the workshops, surveys and interviews were conducted with the participants. As a result, it was found out that designers used data to explain user behaviors and the environment of the objects in question and they add on to the internal, external and narrative context of the use scenarios.

Speaker: Tuna Nagihan
Venue: TBC
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

Tuesday 26th November 2019 - Ifeoluwa Agboola

“The Role of Mental Model Theory in the Effectiveness of Risk Formulation and Management among Mental Health Practitioners: A case study of the Galatea Risk and Safety Tool.”

Abstract:Effective mental healthcare delivery is increasingly becoming a challenge to healthcare professionals due to the uncertain nature of mental health and its management and the corresponding rise in the rate of inadequate diagnoses including incomplete and false clinical judgements have also raised concerns on the clinical decision making process, risk assessment approach and the tools in effecting the right and appropriate clinical decisions. The diagnostic process of mental health assessment has key psychological dimensions which need to be fully considered to produce the right intervention. The dimensions include diagnostic reasoning, acknowledging and learning from mistakes, workplace culture, teamwork relationships, and physician-patient-family communications. Mental models have been described as knowledge structures employed by users to represent, make sense of, and interact with the external world They are the sources of users’ expectation which govern users’ expected actions of the system and guide the way the system is used and how feedback is interpreted. Building a user’s mental model gives an evaluative view of the system from the user’s perspective is a user centred-approach to capture and explain the human mind and human behaviour in the use of a system. The Galatea Risk and Safety Tool (GRiST); a risk assessment tool for clinical decision support is evaluated, illustrating the relationship between the mental model theory of its users will be evaluated and discussed for an effective risk assessment, formulation, judgement and management. During the talk, I will give an overview of the importance of effective risk assessment and management, overview of the mental model theory, the GRiST Ontology in MindMap illustration and how the use of mental models to capture users’ thought processes can help enhance the effectiveness of risk management in the mental health domain.

Short Bio: Ifeoluwa Agboola is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science in Aston University. Her work spans from Clinical Decision Support Systems, Risk Formulation and Management to Human Computer Interactions using Mental Models.

Speaker: Ifeoluwa Agboola
Venue: TBC
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 12th November 2019 - Kevin J. Valle-Gómez

“Mutation-inspired symbolic execution for software testing”

Abstract:Symbolic execution can systematically explore several paths of software without manually specifying concrete values. Consequently, this technique can be useful for generating software tests. Among the techniques for evaluating the quality of a test suite, we can highlight mutation testing. This technique measures the ability of the tests to detect mutations introduced into the program. Currently, symbolic execution is effective when meeting basic coverage criteria, however, it is not so effective when targeting mutants. In this talk, I propose a new method that, inspired by mutation testing, can improve the quality of the tests initially generated by symbolic execution. To do this, we will combine KLEE and MuCPP, two well-known tools that respectively apply symbolic execution and mutation testing to C and C++ languages. Also, short and medium-term research objectives are established for the application of this method to real-world programs.

Short Bio: Kevin J. Valle-Gómez is a PhD student at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of the University of Cadiz in Spain. He is a researcher of the UCASE Software Engineering Research Group. He has worked on projects related to software engineering applied to Industry 4.0. His current research focuses on the search for new methods of verification and validation of software for industrial systems. In this way, it will be possible to reduce costs while increasing the quality of the final products.

Speaker: Kevin J. Valle-Gómez.
Venue: TBC
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 15th October 2019 - Stefano Lande

“Developing secure Bitcoin contracts with BitML”

Abstract:Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have popularised the idea of smart contracts: they are agreements between untrusted parties that are automatically enforced via software, without a trusted intermediary. Ethereum provides an intuitively simple model for programming smart contracts (based on virtual machine with its programming language), but this comes at the cost of a large attack surface: indeed, a series of vulnerabilities in Ethereum contracts have caused losses in the order of hundreds of millions of USD. By contrast, Bitcoin offers a more limited smart contract model, that has a smaller attack surface, but is very low-level and hard to program. Can we get the best of both worlds, i.e., easy-to-program smart contracts without money-losing bugs and vulnerabilities? In this talk I will present BitML: a programming language and toolchain for developing smart contracts on Bitcoin. BitML pioneers the “contracts-as-programs” paradigm for Bitcoin, by entirely abstracting from the low-level Bitcoin transactions and cryptographic details. Besides providing a simpler way to develop Bitcoin smart contracts, BitML is also able verify arbitrary security properties (expressed as Linear Temporal Logic formulas) that are guaranteed when contracts are deployed. This, in particular, allows BitML to verify liquidity, a landmark property of smart contracts ensuring that the funds tied to a contract cannot remain frozen forever.

During the talk, I will give an overview of how Bitcoin works, provide a sketch of the mathematical foundations of BitML, and illustrate how it can be used, with various examples.

Short Bio: Stefano Lande is a PhD student at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Cagliari. His work spans from blockchain technologies to programming languages and verification for smart contracts.

Speaker: Stefano Lande.
Venue: Council Room.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 8th October 2019 - Dr John Woodward

“Automatically Designing Algorithms”

Abstract:We will look at how to automatically design algorithms. This is a set of techniques related to genetic programming and the more recently conceived genetic improvement techniques. While genetic programming aims to build programs from scratch, genetic improvement techniques take existing programs and attempts to improve them or repair them. This difference may seem superficial but has some interesting implications. We will look at examples including bin packing, optimization algorithms, and bug fixing. We will touch on some of the theoretical underpinnings of the technique, as well as mentioning some of the practicalities. I will end the seminar by talking about machine learning assist software engineers in building less buggy code.

Short Bio: John Woodward is a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London where he heads the Operational Research group. He has expertise in the automated design of algorithms, and genetic improvement. He has worked on domains including combinatorial optimisation problems, scheduling and software engineering. He is currently ranked at position 36 out of over 10,000 researchers on The Genetic Programming Bibliography and regularly contributes to The Conversation supporting public engagement. From 2015-16 was PI on EP/N002849/1, and is a PI on a multi-site grant EP/N029577/1. He is currently supervising 7 PhD candidates. From 2011-2017 he led an annual workshop on The Automated Design of Algorithms at GECCO. He has presented 6 tutorials on The Automatic Design of Algorithms at venues including PPSN, WSC18, CEC, and GECCO. He was recently selected for the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, where scientists are paired with UK parliamentarians and civil servants to gain an understanding into how research can help inform policy making and how they can get involved.

Research group

EPSRC grants

The conversation

GP bibliography

Speaker: Dr John Woodward.
Venue: Council Room.
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 - Dr Amit Chopra

“Embracing Decentralization and Asynchrony in Protocol Languages”

Abstract: The last two decades have seen significant research into protocol languages, in communities as diverse as multiagent systems, services and business processes, and programming languages. The resulting languages are also diverse, with diverse abstractions and operational assumptions. This raises the question: how may we compare and evaluate protocol languages? In this talk, I will introduce BSPL, a declarative protocol language of considerable novelty that is based on explicitly specifying information causality and integrity. I will compare BSPL with select modern approaches that broadly fall under the umbrella of session types on the basis of vital representational and operational criteria, among them communication assumptions and concurrency. BSPL fares better than the other approaches in the evaluation; it is able to represent more scenarios while requiring fewer guarantees from the communication infrastructure. I demonstrate via a discussion of architectural constraints that BSPL is better-suited to decentralization and asynchrony. There is significant interest in industry in coordinating computations via asynchronous messaging. My hope is that this will translate into rich opportunities for investigating and applying protocols over the next decade in all kinds of settings.

Short Bio: Dr Amit Chopra is a senior lecturer at Lancaster University. He is interested in the engineering of decentralized sociotechnical systems.

Speaker: Dr Amit Chopra.
Venue: MB619
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Wednesday 19th June 2019 - Dr Patrick Stacey

“Requirements by Proxy – Designing Computer Games for Users with Learning Disabilities”

Abstract: There are 1.4 million people with learning disability (LD) in the UK and 75% of GPs do not know how to treat them. This user group is highly vulnerable and deserve special attention and help from all segments of society and industry, including computer game design. Computer games offer promise in motivating people with LD to carry out the basics in life, such as physical exercise. We conducted a mixed-method study of one such game called Somability by Cariad Interactive. The findings have implications not only for game design for LD users but challenge the well-established notion that requirements should faithfully be elicited from users; particularly in the case of LD, this is not possible. The talk is based on a paper presented at HICSS in 2017.

Short Bio: Dr. Patrick Stacey is a Senior Lecturer in Information Management at Loughborough University. Since 2004, his research has centred around process models of computer game development. Accolades include the Association of Information Systems’ Best Paper Award and a Dean’s Award for Researcher of the Year. He is also Visiting Associate Professor at University of British Columbia where he investigates humanistic issues (e.g. Enid Mumford) in systems and technology design.

Speaker: Dr Patrick Stacey.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 4th June 2019 - Dr. Yijun Yu

“The Drone Identity: Requirements for Systems of Systems"

Abstract: Incidents are rich source of knowledge for the safety of travellers, from which we hope to learn lessons through forensic investigations to prevent the incidents from happening again. Since the MH370 incident in 2014, forensic solutions such as black boxes are found inadequate to track and monitor aircraft. In the era of cloud computing, we have proposed to replace them with *live* black boxes, a solution with the help of Internet. The consequent Internet of Flying Things, however, opens another Pandora’s box: a number of near misses incidents involve Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (or drones), including the recent attack at Gatwick Airport in December 2018. So what are the requirements for tracking and locating the Internet of flying things? If the `thing’ doesn’t listen to us, how to change it? A project is recently granted at Open University: We hope to address these problems through the collaboration with NATS.

Short Bio: Dr. Yijun Yu is a Senior Lecturer in Computing and Communications at The Open University, UK. He is interested in developing automated, efficient and scalable software techniques and tools to better support human activities in software engineering. He has the vision to improve aviation security through cloud computing and blockchains by live streaming black boxes after the missing MH370 flight, which featured in interviews with BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Services aired in April 2014, and subsequently received a Microsoft Azure Award (2017), an Amazon Cloud Award (2018), and an EU SESAR JU EngageKTN Grant (2019). His research on requirements-driven adaptation receives a 10 Year Most Influential Paper award (CASCON’16), 6 Best Paper awards (SEAMS’18, iRENIC’16, TrustCom’14, EICS’13, VMPDP’01), 3 Distinguished Paper awards (RE’11, BCS’08, ASE’07), a Best Tool Demo Paper Award (RE’13) and a Best Student Paper Award (PDCS’02). He serves as an Associate Editor of the Software Quality Journal, Chair of BCS Specialist Group on Requirements Engineering, a PC member of international conferences on Software Engineering (FSE, ICSE), Requirements Engineering (RE, CAiSE, ER), Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME, CSMR, SANER, ICPC), Security (ESSoS), and Internet of Things (WF-IoT). As Principle Investigator, he managed knowledge transfer projects with NATS, Huawei, IBM, CA, RealTelekom, and is a co-investigator on research projects including Adaptive Security and Privacy (ERC Adv. Grant, 2012-2018), and Adaptive Information Systems (QNRF, 2012-2016), Lifelong Security Engineering for Evolving Systems (EU FP7, 2009-2012), and Usable Privacy for Mobile Apps (Microsoft SEIF, 2012).

Speaker: Dr. Yijun Yu.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 14th May 2019 - Dr. Alceste Scalas

“Reliable Distributed Programs with Behavioural Types"

Abstract: Concurrent and distributed applications are ubiquitous; yet, their design and development is notoriously challenging: many subtle concurrency bugs, like protocol violations and deadlocks, are often spotted late, during software testing and maintenance — i.e., when bugs are more difficult and costly to isolate and fix. This challenge is being addressed in both academia and industry: the goal is to develop methods and tools to let software practitioners spot concurrency bugs early, and help creating robust, easier to maintain programs. In this talk, I will give an overview of my research in the area. I will focus on message-passing concurrency (that encompasses, e.g., client-server systems, web services, and actor-based programs). I will first provide a quick theoretical background, and then illustrate some practical applications. For the theoretical part, I will talk about process calculi (a formalism for modelling communicating programs), and behavioural types (a theory for checking whether a program abides by a certain interface, communication protocol, or service contract). For the practical part, I will illustrate my work on representing behavioural types in the Scala programming language, enabling compile-time protocol checks. I will also discuss my recent work on combined type/model-checking (which includes papers recently accepted at POPL'19 and PLDI'19), and some open problems.

Short Bio: Alceste Scalas is a lecturer in Computer Science at Aston University, and a member of SEA ( He is interested in programming languages, and in the theory and practice of concurrent and distributed systems: how to design and develop correct and reliable applications, by building upon rigorous mathematical foundations. He is particularly keen on producing theoretically-grounded tools and libraries to aid software design, development, and verification.

Speaker: Dr. Alceste Scalas.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Tuesday 16th April 2019 - Dr. Muhidin Mohamed

“SRL-ESA-TextSum: A Text Summarization Approach Based on Semantic Role Labeling and Explicit Semantic Analysis"

Abstract: Automatic text summarization attempts to provide an effective solution to today's unprecedented growth of textual data. This paper proposes an innovative graph-based text summarization framework for generic single and multi-document summarization. The summarizer benefits from two well-established text semantic representation techniques; Semantic Role Labelling (SRL) and Explicit Semantic Analysis (ESA) as well as the constantly evolving collective human knowledge in Wikipedia. The SRL is used to achieve sentence semantic parsing whose word tokens are represented as a vector of weighted Wikipedia concepts using ESA method. The essence of the developed framework is to construct a unique concept graph representation underpinned by semantic role-based multi-node (under sentence level) vertices for summarization. We have empirically evaluated the summarization system using the standard publicly available dataset from Document Understanding Conference 2002 (DUC 2002). Experimental results indicate that the proposed summarizer outperforms all state-of-the-art related comparators in the single document summarization based on the ROUGE-1 and ROUGE-2 measures, while also ranking second in the ROUGE-1 and ROUGE-SU4 scores for the multi-document summarization. On the other hand, the testing also demonstrates the scalability of the system, i.e., varying the evaluation data size is shown to have little impact on the summarizer performance, particularly for the single document summarization task. In a nutshell, the findings demonstrate the power of the role-based and vectorial semantic representation when combined with the crowd-sourced knowledge base in Wikipedia.

Short Bio: Muhidin Mohamed is a Research Fellow in the CS department at Aston University, working with a team on Big Data Corridor ( - an ERDF project. He was a teaching associate at the University of Birmingham before joining Aston and has research interests in Natural Language Processing, and Data Management and Analysis.

Speaker: Dr. Muhidin Mohamed.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Wednesday 3rd April 2019 - Prof. Tony Clark

"Constructing and Using Digital Twins using Actors"

Abstract: Modern systems operate at scale, have many levels of decomposition, and are usually distributed. In terms of both their design, maintenance and operation we are often uncertain about the exact behaviour that such systems will exhibit. We would like to reduce this uncertainty to the fullest extent possible through the use of supporting technologies. Acknowledging that we can never have full a-priori behavioural knowledge leads us to seek techniques for representing the behaviour we want the system to exhibit and then incrementally adapt it to demonstrate that behaviour. This talk will outline a conceptual approach that aims to use a digital twin of a complex system with uncertain behaviour to produce simulations that can be used for learning and adaptation. The talk will include an overview of a new actor language called ESL ( that has been developed to address this problem space.

Short Bio: Tony Clark is a Deputy Dean in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University and a member of SEA (

Speaker: Prof. Tony Clark.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 13:00 - 14:00

Tuesday 26th March 2019 - Dr. John NA Brown

“My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”: The intersection between Moore’s Law and the Dunning-Kruger Effect"

Abstract: We are immersed in technology we do not understand, and we have only begun to study the way that this new environment is impacting human behaviour. Our technology is changing much faster than our ability to fully understand it and safely incorporate it into our daily lives. This is not only dangerous because people keep texting while driving. When humans don’t understand something, we are prone to dismiss the idea that anyone else does. And it’s not just a passive dismissal. When challenged, we humans defend our unthinking biases with all of the emotional and intellectual rigour at our disposal. In this way, we become passionately invested in arguing for or against issues that we have never bothered to study, fighting for them as though for our very existence.

Short Bio: Dr John NA Brown is a UX and UED Researcher in Silicon Valley, who has solved problems for Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Having published three books with Springer, Dr Brown has also written and taught university courses in Scientific Thinking, Research Methods, Computer Animation & Storytelling, and Applied Biomechanics. The founder of Anthropology-Based Computing, Dr Brown is also one of the co-founders of the fields of AI Psychology and AI Psychotherapy.

Speaker: Dr. John NA Brown.
Venue: MB306 - Seminar Room - Research Institute on 3rdFloor.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

19th March 2019 - Dr Geoffrey Stewart Morrison

"Issues in score-based likelihood ratio calculation in forensic science"

Abstract: Forensic science is undergoing a paradigm shift away from logically indefensible conclusions based on untested subjective judgement toward logically correct inference based on relevant data, quantitative measurements, and statistical models, with empirical validation under casework conditions. DNA was a leader in the adoption of the new paradigm in the 1990s. Since around 2000, forensic speech science has also been a leader in the paradigm shift. Compared to DNA, its data, which is multivariate continuously valued data with substantial within-source variability and usually mismatches in conditions between items to be compared, is more similar to the data found in many other branches of forensic science. In the new paradigm, strength of evidence is assessed as a likelihood ratio, e.g., what is the probability of the observed properties of the questioned-source material if it came from the specified known source versus if it came from some other source selected at random form the relevant population. Score-based procedures for calculating likelihood ratios are increasingly popular in multiple branches of forensic science. In forensic speech science, the calculation of scores takes account of both the similarity of the questioned-source material to the known source and its typicality with respect to the relevant population. A score is essentially an uncalibrated likelihood ratio, and the process of converting scores to likelihood ratios is also known as calibration. In other branches of forensic science scores are often based only on similarity. The presentation will provide a brief introduction to score-based likelihood ratio calculation. It will also illustrate why the scores used should take account of both similarity and typicality, and should not be based on similarity alone. Suggested reading: Morrison G.S. (2013). Tutorial on logistic-regression calibration and fusion: Converting a score to a likelihood ratio. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 45, 173–197. Morrison G.S., Enzinger E. (2018). Score based procedures for the calculation of forensic likelihood ratios – Scores should take account of both similarity and typicality. Science & Justice, 58, 47–58.

Short Bio: Associate Professor of Forensic Speech Science, Aston University. More to be found at

Speaker: Dr Geoffrey Stewart Morrison.
Venue: the space of the Research Institute on 3rdFloor- no label on the door yet BUT it is right next to MB304.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

5th March 2019 - Dr. Chris Headleand

"Strengthening the learning community through student-curated media"

Abstract: A strong community ethos can improve a student’s experience, empowering them to access support and direction when they need it. However, students rarely understand the scope and depth of the learning community that they are part of. They are supported by a whole network of individuals, many of whom work ‘behind the scenes’, often, the lecturers that they interact with daily are only the tip of the iceberg. This talk explores how student-led video content can help to improve student understanding about the community, and strengthen their engagement with it. In this talk we will discuss the impact from two case studies, and share insights from our experience. Furthermore, we will discuss how this has fed back into research opportunities, related to Lincolns “Students as Producer” ethos.

Short Bio: Chris Headleand is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln. Chris has a passion for Student Engagement and learning innovation and was one of the first educators internationally to explore the possibilities of social media integration into post-16 education. His research interests include virtual worlds, games AI, ethics, and human-computer interaction. He is also the managing director of Picselica a virtual reality development agency and produces of Ocean Rift, one of the world’s bestselling VR experiences.

Speaker: Dr. Chris Headleand
Venue: the space of the Research Institute on 3rdFloor- no label on the door yet BUT it is right next to MB304.
Time: 16:00 - 17:00

7th Feb 2019 - Dr. Phyllis Nelson

"What Can We Learn From Software Development About Building Very Complex Autonomous Systems?"

Abstract: Creation and deployment of extremely complex systems (systems-of-systems and even larger) that have significant autonomous capabilities has begun. Interwoven systems are at the edge of this space. They do not have one central entity responsible for integration and control, but instead rely on high connectivity through communications, networking, and environmental factors which enable ad hoc collaborative and opportunistic discovery of useful capabilities. Examples include not only the Internet of Things (IoT), but also high performance computing environments; electrical power generation, transmission and distribution; the transportation infrastructure, and socio-technical systems such as social media and collaborative work environments. The transition in software development from restrictive, often commercial, code bases to open source, coupled with increasing reliance on reuse, have created broad success in expanding the resources available to both coders and application users. At the same time, the complexity of dependencies has opened new challenges to stability and security. This talk will explore parallels between these trends in software development and those needed to enable, integrate, and manage systems-of-systems and interwoven systems.

Short Bio: Dr. Phyllis R. Nelson is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at California State Polytechnic University Pomona and also participates in the research activities of Topcy House Consulting. Previously, she has been an engineer in the aerospace industry, a research staff member at Université Claude Bernard -- Lyon 1, Lyon, France and the University of California Los Angeles, a private consultant, the director of both a center and an institute at Cal Poly Pomona and a department chair. Her current research interests concern the integration of complex autonomous cyber-physical systems.

Speaker: Dr. Phyllis Nelson
Venue: TBA
Time: 13:00 - 14:00

Tuesday 27th November 2018 - - Dr. Stefan Tillich

"Smart Cards: Trust Anchors in a Sea of Risk"

Abstract: Digital processing and communication systems are continuing their spread into all avenues of life. Numerous contemporary buzzwords like Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, Car2Car communication, and Mobile Payment are markers of this ongoing and ever accelerating development. While the benefits of this digitalization are often clear and undisputed, it is important not to forget that the other side of the coin is an increase of risk for the various stakeholders of these new systems. For example, intra-car communication can clearly help to increase drivers' situational awareness and thus greatly improve safety. On the other hand, malicious parties pretending to be cars and sending spoofed messages to vehicles may pose significant security and safety hazards. Out best defense against such threats are the correct application of well-designed security protocols. Virtually all such protected systems rely on so-called trust anchors to provide the basic security assurances from which all other security assurances derive from. This talk will examine the role of modern smart card technology to serve as trust anchors in modern digital systems. We will look at capabilities and integration of state-of-the art smart card modules, current threats and attacks as well as have an outlook towards possible future enhancements..

Short Bio: Stefan Tillich is CTO at Yagoba GmbH, an Austrian-based company focused on providing embedded security solutions. As such, he has extensive experience with designing and building secure systems and the integration and use of smart card modules. Previously, Stefan has been research associate at the University of Bristol and before that project senior scientist at the Graz University of Technology, where he performed research in the fields of applied cryptography and secure systems.

Speaker: Dr. Stefan Tillich
Venue: TBA
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

Wednesday 21th November 2018 - Dr. Carlos Cetina

"Localisation of Features, Bugs, and Requirements in Software Models: Industrial experiences"

Abstract: Feature Localisation, Bug Localisation, and Requirements traceability are among the most popular activities performed in the context of Software Engineering. The day after industry adopts Model Driven Software Engineering (MDSE), the popularity of the former activities is not going to fade away. The good news is the abstraction of MDSE models should ease these popular activities. The bad news is these activities have been neglected in the context of MDSE. As example, recent surveys in top Software Engineering journals do not identify any localisation approach that targets software models. In this talk, we are going to go through the efforts performed at two industrial case studies (Induction Hobs of BSH Group, and Train Control & Management Software of CAF) to achieve the above localisation activities in models. These efforts range from Information Retrieval to Machine Learning, and include the dimension of Search-based Software Engineering. Results are not perfect, but we are going to discuss if they are up to the task.

Short Bio: Carlos Cetina is an associate professor at San Jorge University and the head of the SVIT Research Group (visit His research focuses on the intersection between Software Product Lines and Model-driven Development. Recently, Cetina has become a member of the Search-based Software Engineering community by showing how to improve localisation activities in software models. Cetina received a PhD in computer science from the Universitat Politècnica de València. More information about his background can be found at his website:

Speaker: Dr. Carlos Cetina
Venue: the space of the Research Institute on 3rdFloor- no label on the door yet BUT it is right next to MB304.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

13th November 2018 - Dr. Ben Shreeve

"Title Decisions & Disruptions: Using lego to help organisations learn about cyber security"

Abstract: Decisions & Disruptions origins is a table top exercise designed originally to help research how organisations make cyber security investment decisions. The exercise presents small teams of participants with a simplified lego representation of a power generation company. Teams are given four rounds to play through and a finite budget to spend on cyber security investments. At the end of each round they suffer any number of cyber attacks based on the choices made. In this seminar I will provide a brief overview of the game, some of our initial findings and summarise how the exercise has been adopted by the metropolitan police to help raise awareness of cyber security implications in a wide range of organisations.

Short Bio: Dr. Ben Shreeve is a research associate at the University of Bristol, UK, an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. Over the past 18 months he has been working on the MUMBA (Multi-faceted Metrics for ICS Business Risk Analysis) project. This has involved running sessions using the Decisions & Disruptions game with both industry and government organisations to help promote dialogue and awareness of cyber security risks and decision making. He has also been responsible for training a number of government teams to run these games themselves with a wide variety of stakeholders. He has recently completed a Ph.D. at Lancaster University exploring the differences in decision-making and creativity approaches used by traditional co-located and geographically distributed (virtual) teams. As part of this research he was invited as a visiting academic to the University of Auckland, NZ, for 8 months.

Speaker: Dr. Ben Shreeve
Venue: the space of the Research Institute on 3rdFloor- no label on the door yet BUT it is right next to MB304.
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

6th November 2018 - Dr. Laurence Tratt

"Why aren't more users more happy with our VMs?"

Abstract. Programming language Virtual Machines (VM)s are now widely used, from server applications to web browsers. Published benchmarks regularly show that VMs can optimise programs to the same degree as, and often substantially better than, traditional static compilers. Yet, there are still people who are unhappy with the VMs they use. Frequently their programs don't run anywhere near as fast as benchmarks suggest; sometimes their programs even run slower than more naive language implementations. Often our reaction is to tell such users that their programs are "wrong" and that they should fix them. This talk takes a detailed look at VM performance, based on a lengthy experiment and a new statistical technique for analysing warmup time: we not only uncovered unexpected patterns of behaviour, but found that VMs perform poorly far more often than previously thought. I will draw on some of my own experiences to suggest how we may have gotten into such a pickle. Finally, I will offer some suggestions as to how we might be able to make more VM users more happy in the future.

Bio: Laurence Tratt is a Reader in Software Development at King's College London, where he leads the Software Development Team. His past work includes VM optimisation techniques (e.g. "storage strategies") and language composition (e.g. "PyHyp", the first composition of two real-world languages). More at

Speaker: Dr. Laurence Tratt
Venue: TBA
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

30th October 2018 - Lorena Gutiérrez-Madroñal

"Relevant situations in IoT system, how to test them?: a case study"

Abstract: The Internet of Things (IoT) is being applied to different areas. The main characteristic of these systems is the management of a huge amount of information that arrives as events. This management is an issue because according to the received data real-time decisions have to be made according to the relevant situations that want to be detected. After some analysis, we have realised that the majority of that relevant situations follow a specific behaviour. So, to test those systems, we need to generate test events following that specific behaviour. We have developed the IoT-TEG tool, which allows us to automatically generate test events of any event type. Thanks to its implementation we have improved it with a new functionality to generate events with the desired behaviour. IoT-TEG has been used with an ongoing fall detection IoT system, which helped in the development of the new functionality.

Short Bio: Lorena Gutiérrez-Madroñal received her first-class Honours Degree in Computer Systems Management in 2007, her BSc in Computer Science in 2009, her Master of Advanced Studies in Computer Science in 2010 and her PhD in 2017 at the University of Cádiz (Spain). She has been working at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering as a full-time lecturer since 2009. Her research is focused on the Internet of Things and test event generation for any event-processing program. In order to prove the usability of the test generated events, she is using them to apply mutation testing to EPL query languages, such as the Event Processing Language (EPL). She has participated in research projects, all involved in software engineering related aspects. She has served in programs and organizing committees at different conferences. She is a researcher of the UCASE Software Engineering Research Group.

Speaker: Lorena Gutiérrez-Madroñal
Venue: TBA
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

9th October 2018 - Dr. Paul Grace

"Managing Risks using Runtime Models"

Abstract. The increasing complexity of distributed systems, and the move towards the dynamic composition of systems of systems means that traditional methods to handle security and privacy threats at design time do not take into account the uncertainty about (and emergence of) new threats. Runtime models and their associated dynamic middleware solutions offer: i) the ability to identify and reason about increasing risk, and ii) to dynamically adapt software and systems to mitigate threats and reduce risk. In this talk I will present results from two research projects that cover initial forays into this avenue of research. Firstly Operando, this examines the use of runtime models of privacy to handle threats to an individual’s privacy (as opposed to blanket privacy guarantees). Secondly, RestAssured which uses a runtime model of assets, threats and misbehaviours to perform runtime risk analysis of Cloud-based Systems.

Bio: Paul Grace is a senior research fellow in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. His current work looks at the engineering of secure and trustworthy adaptive systems; in particular using runtime models to identify and mitigate dynamic security and privacy threats. Previously, he has been an enterprise fellow at the IT Innovation Centre and before that a researcher at both Lancaster University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Speaker: Dr. Paul Grace
Venue: TBA
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

2nd October 2018 - Dr. Nicolas Cardozo

Learning to Adapt from Past Behaviour"

Realization of adaptive behavior in software systems is usually predefined by developers. During the development process, developers specify the base behavior of the system along side the adaptations they foresaw for the system, together with the situations in which these can be take place. While this model offers a dynamic behavior of the system in face of different situations, it is unfortunately, a restrictive model in terms of the adaptations that can be observe in the model. In this talk we discuss an adaptation model that enables the generation of run-time adaptations based on previous executions of the system. The model brings together the learning process of autonomous self-adaptive systems with the language abstractions of context-oriented programming. The union of these models brings offers the flexibility and modularity required to realize truly adaptive systems. We envision the applicability of this model for new interactive systems, like smart environments, cyber physical systems, or the IoT.

Bio: Nicolás is an assistant professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. His research focuses in the development, verification, and application of adaptive systems from a programming language perspective. Nicolás’ focuses on the design and implementation of programming languages offering abstractions to foster dynamic adaptation, under the umbrella of Context-oriented Programming. In recent years Nicolas, has focused on the dynamic verification of adaptive systems, incorporating dynamic verification techniques in context-oriented languages, to assure the consistency, correctness, and completeness properties of adaptive systems. Moreover, as an application domain for dynamic adaptations, Nicolás develops smart- and IoT applications that take into account their context of usage and can adapt accordingly.

Nicolás received his Ph.D. from the Université catholique de Louvain and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, and participated in postdoctoral fellowships in Belgium and Ireland before joining Universidad de los Andes.

Speaker: Dr. Nicolas Cardozo
Venue: TBA
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

24th April 2018 - Dr. Kirstie L. Bellman

Extending Our Concepts of Self-Optimization and Self-Improvement: From Tasks to Situations

Current self-optimization generally makes the assumption that the system has been given a set of goals, operating constraints, and requirements; then the system continuously adjusts its repertoire of methods to adapt to the current operational conditions in order to fulfill those requirements and, even better, to improve on its performance for those requirements. This is an important approach that has borne much fruit!

However, it also can lead to a singularly reactive and non-future thinking system – a system driven by the current job at hand and one where the system never gets out ahead of current conditions.
Consider some of the characteristics of natural systems: Animals are willing to sacrifice current goals for better benefits later (even extending into altruism at the societal level.) This type of optimization includes what is needed for a better next move or better positioning (e.g., taking higher ground, building a burrow, retreating and running away to survive long enough to regroup, letting the ball go past one so one can protect the goalie, etc.) Animals also demonstrate merging of goals (which can even mean underperforming on all current goals to some extent in order to fulfill several goals in the current operational situation.) Animals also have reasoning processes that reflect on past experience in order to discover root causes of changes in the operating conditions or environment or the system itself. They also learn to develop better automated responses and ‘train’ (play) to systematize future reactions and to discover how best to use their individual capabilities in a given environment. As part of that, they invest in exploratory behavior in order to have better future knowledge of the environment and potential applicable behaviors. All of these and many more behaviors and cognitive capabilities are examples of stepping back from the immediate accomplishment of a goal or a performance of an action in order to improve the system’s overall situation. We are using the term “situation” in the technical sense, as defined by both the Cognitive Simulation community and the self-awareness community, where situation includes at least the elements of the situation, e.g., objects, events, people, systems, environmental factors; their current states, e.g., locations, conditions, modes, and actions, and the system’s context information and goals.

In this talk, we focus on a subset of the adaptive capabilities noted above, giving examples of the abilities of animal systems to satisfy multiple goals by combining behaviors, to forego obtainable immediate goals in order to better position themselves for improved future behaviors and to even alter their environments in order to improve the likelihood of successful goal outcomes and their overall situation. We will then examine the implications of each of the above for how we might want to better use our current self-optimization methods and approaches and where we might want to add additional capabilities to our repertoire of methods. This will include some examples of using different timescales in our self-optimization approaches and having them operate in parallel, as well as introducing multiple goals into our self-improvement processes. We will also discuss what is needed to reason about better ‘future positioning.

A version of this address was created as the Keynote for SAOS 2018 and the author wishes to thank that community for the inspiration leading to this talk.

Speaker: Dr. Kirstie L. Bellman
Venue: MB246A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

17th April 2018 - Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez

Towards temporal queries for evolving linked data

Engineering firms build linked collections of complex artefacts that evolve over time: floor plans, software requirements and architectures, control processes, or simulation programs, among others. The execution state of a running system can also be seen as a complex graph whose nodes, edges and values change over time, e.g. in self-adaptive applications. In both cases, we may want to derive metrics or effective workflows from their evolution over time, detect when certain situations may have happened, or compare snapshots at certain key points in time. With this in mind, I have started working on the extension of the Hawk model indexer so it can produce a temporal graph from collections of structured and linked files stored in standard version control systems, and I have drafted what the extended query language would look like. In this talk, I will introduce prior works in temporal querying over object-oriented databases, event streams and object-oriented system models, present the first steps taken with the Greycat many-worlds temporal graph technology, and set out a research roadmap for the short- and mid-term future.

Speaker: Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez
Venue: MB246A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

16th February 2018 - Dr. Joao Filipe Ferreira

Human-Robot Interaction - The Need for Skills

In this talk, I will present my personal outlook on HRI for the near future. Service and assistive robots are still far from being capable of maintaining long-term relationships with humans – in current roadmaps for robotic research in the future, the keywords “long-term” or synonyms are constantly repeated concerning cognition, and “slow, enduring change and development” in artificial cognitive systems is preferred over “one-shot, fast learning and adaptation” and “static, repetitive or limited flexibility”, which are recognised as the common traits of current technologies. In recent years, a considerable effort has been devoted to researching perception and decision processes for artificial cognitive systems. As a consequence, HRI technologies and corresponding cognitive capabilities of robotic systems have seen many developments in the last few decades, enabling service and assistive robots to exhibit sufficient social skills to maintain basic short-term interactions with humans. Nevertheless, HRI technologies are still far from providing the degree of social capabilities to rival a human. This restricts most of the current socially interactive robots to controlled environments and highly specialised tasks. First of all, an integrated approach encapsulating, interconnecting and consolidating the basic skills mentioned above to tackle generic and unconstrained settings is clearly missing. On the other hand, research efforts that have led to current artificial cognitive systems driving socially interactive robots have not yet produced a convincing overall approach to crucial aspects to deal in the long haul with information gathered through experience, context awareness and deduction. Therefore, I would like to propose to my audience that there is a need for (1) exploring what current - hot! - techniques and computational tools such as deep learning or probabilistic methods, and also advances in technologies such as SoCs, GPUs and programmable logic have to offer in this respect (2) use these to take a step back and jumpstart an additional wave of fundamental research in modelling and implementing basic perceptual and low-level (“involuntary”) cognitive skills. The resulting frameworks would serve as middleware for higher-level cognition in robotics, providing a standardised way of accessing pre-processed and prioritised sensory information for decision-making and complex planning and action. They would be inspired by the human brain at a functional level, taking cross-disciplinary advantage of recent advances in psychology and neuroscience, and as such would naturally endow the robot with the capability to instil a sense of intentionality and reciprocity in HRI.

Speaker: Dr. Joao Filipe Ferreira
Venue: MB404A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

13th February 2018 - Prof. Jeremy Pitt

Interactional Justice vs. The Paradox of Self-Amendment and the Iron Law of Oligarchy

Self-organisation and self-governance offer an effective approach to resolving collective action problems in multi-agent systems, such as fair and sustainable resource allocation. Nevertheless, self-governing systems which allow unrestricted and unsupervised self-modification expose themselves to several risks, including Suber's paradox of self-amendment (rules specify their own amendment) and Michel's iron law of oligarchy (that the system will inevitably be taken over by a small clique and be run for its own benefit, rather than in the collective interest). This talk will present an algorithmic approach to resisting both the paradox and the iron law, based on the idea of interactional justice derived from sociological, political and organizational theory. The process of interactional justice operationalised in this talk uses opinion formation over a social network with respect to a shared set of congruent values, to transform a set of individual, subjective self-assessments into a collective, relative, aggregated assessment. Using multi-agent simulation, we present some experimental results about detecting and resisting cliques. We conclude with a discussion of some implications concerning institutional reformation and stability, ownership of the means of coordination, and knowledge management processes in `democratic' systems.

Speaker: Prof. Jeremy Pitt
Venue: MB231
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

23rd January 2018 - Dr. Errol Thompson

45 years of computer science

In this seminar, Errol will review 45 years of computer science looking at some of the things that have changed and some of the issues that have remained the same. Errol will review some of his original work on programming languages, computer architecture, and operating systems. Having worked in both academia and industry, Errol has both an academic and practitioner understanding of the issues.

Speakers: Dr. Errol Thompson
Venue: MB486
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

5th December 2017 - Prof. Alan Dix

Open Data Islands and Communities

How do we make digital technology serve those at physical and social margins of society? Digital technology, not least the internet, has transformed many aspects of our lives. Crucially, in many countries access to digital technology has become an essential part of the nature of modern citizenry for commercial services; for access to access to government, and for participation in democratic processes, for example much of the UK Brexit and US Presidential campaigns were fought on Facebook. However, the ability take advantage of digital technology is not uniform, those at the margins typically have disproportionately poor access, both in terms of physical connectivity and skills. There is a danger that digital technology can deepen the existing divides in our world. In this talk I will look at these issues and most importantly ways we can, as researchers and practitioners, seek to create technologies that serve all communities. I will focus particularly on open data, how we can devise ways to make it more easily found, accessed, and visualised by small communities at the edges, and moreover how they can become active creators of information: producers not merely subjects of data. I will draw on experience in a number of projects on the small Scottish island of Tiree and also my 1000 mile walk around the edges of Wales.

Speakers: Prof. Alan Dix
Venue: MB373
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

28th November 2017 - Dr. Roisin McNaney

Exploring the potential for monitoring Parkinson's symptoms through IoT

Dr. McNaney recently ran a 2 day workshop that aimed to bring together practitioners, researchers, designers and citizens from the Parkinson's community to explore how commercial IoT technologies might be used to support people with Parkinson's in their day to day lives; to understand more about their condition and facilitate better care planning discussions with their clinicians. This seminar will be a summary of the workshop themes and findings and the identify space for future work to move forward with.

Speakers: Dr. Roisin McNaney
Venue: MB373
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

24th October 2017 - Dr. Christopher Buckingham

An odyssey of sirens, sorcery, and shipwreck for mental health informatics

It is notoriously difficult to get research out into practice for medical informatics in general and clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) in particular. Mycin was one of the earliest and most famous CDSS but was never used even though it had good laboratory performance. This pattern has been repeated ever since and much has been written on the barriers in the way of health informatics. This talk will explore these barriers using the experiences of the developers of GRiST, a CDSS for assessing and managing risks associated with mental health problems. GRiST was based on ideas coming out of a PhD thesis and was very much driven by a research agenda in the first stages. It began in 2000 and was first rolled out as a software system within secondary-care mental health in 2010. It's reach has extended to primary care and the community since then but each step has been slow and painful. This presentation will use the metaphor of Homer's Odyssey as an illustration of the perils and pitfalls that make the journey from research conception to the real world so painful. The journey's end is increasingly important from the academic REF perspective but also if we want to benefit society in general.

Speakers: Dr. Christopher Buckingham
Venue: MB753
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

24th October 2017 - Prof. Robert Kowalski

LPS as Step towards a Unifying Framework for Computing

Computer Science today rests upon shaky foundations of multiple, competing languages and paradigms. On the one hand we have imperative languages for programming, and on the other hand we have declarative languages for program specification, databases and knowledge representation. LPS (logic-based production system) aims to reconcile imperative and declarative representations, by giving a logical interpretation to imperative modes of expression. LPS includes logic programs, which are sets of sentences of the form conclusion if conditions, and treats them as procedures to reduce problems that match the conclusions to subproblems that match the conditions. It also includes reactive rules of the form if antecedent then consequent, which are a logical reconstruction and generalisation of production system rules. Logic programs in LPS can be regarded as representing the beliefs of an intelligent agent, and reactive rules as representing the agent’s goals. Computation in LPS can be understood as attempting to satisfy a global imperative to make the agent’s goals true, by performing actions to make consequents true whenever antecedents become true. Arguably, this way of understanding computation makes LPS not only a practical computer language, but also a scaled-down model of human thinking. In my talk, I will demonstrate an open-source, web-based prototype of LPS, which was developed with Fariba Sadri and Miguel Calejo, to support the teaching of computing and logic in schools. The prototype is accessible from

Speakers: Prof. Robert Kowalski
Venue: MB231
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

17th October 2017 - Prof. Andrea Torsello

Partiality and Localization in Functional Correspondences

The functional maps is a framework for dense shape correspondences modeled as a linear operator between spaces of functions on the shape manifolds. While functional maps can be made resilient to missing parts or incomplete data, overall this framework is not suitable for dealing with partial correspondence and suffers from lack of localization of the point-correspondence due to the band-limited nature of the correspondence. In this presentation I will briefly introduce the formalism and then propose recent work trying to address both issues. We use perturbation analysis to show how removal of shape parts changes the Laplace-Beltrami eigenfunctions, and exploit it as a prior on the spectral representation of the correspondence. Further, we show how a change from the low rank Fourier basis to a sparse spatial basis can improve correspondence-localization even in presence of partiality.

Speakers: Prof. Andrea Torsello
Venue: MB231
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

10th October 2017 - Dr. Tony Beaumont and Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez

Google's Faculty Curriculum Workshop

In July, Google invited two members of staff from several UK universities to their pilot of the week-long Faculty Curriculum Workshop to participate in a series of talks and discussions about Google's hiring process and working conditions, what they are looking for and how we could tweak our teaching to make our graduates more attractive to Google and other similar employers. We went there on behalf of Aston. In this talk, we will talk about how the week went before opening a discussion on how we could best benefit from the FCW conclusions by integrating Google staff into our teaching and events, letting students know about opportunities at Google, and improving our teaching in terms of project-based learning, data structures and problem solving.

Speakers: Dr. Tony Beaumont and Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez
Venue: MB231
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

26th September 2017 - Dr. Lorena Gutiérrez-Madroñal

Testing IoT systems through IoT-TEG

Internet of Things (IoT) has been increasingly become popular in different areas. One of the main drawbacks of the IoT systems is the amount of information they have to handle. This information arrives as events that need to be processed in real time in order to make correct decisions. As a consequence, new ways (tools, devices, mechanisms...) of obtaining, processing and transmitting information have to be put into action. It is worth mentioning the “Event Processing Languages” (EPL), which were created to detect, in real time, interesting situations in a particular domain. These languages use patterns to filter the information. A huge amount of data is processed and analysed by EPLs, so any programmer error could seriously affect the outcome because of a poor decision making system. Given that processing the data is crucial, testing and analysing programs which run any EPL language is required. The most common mistakes that programmers could make have to be detected. A large number of events with specific values and structures are needed to apply any kind of testing in programs which use EPL. As this is a very hard task and very prone to error if done by hand, a method is presented, which addresses the automated generation of events. This method includes a general definition of what is an event type and its representation is proposed. Additionally, IoT-TEG event generator is developed based on this definition. Results from experiments and real-world tests show that the developed method meets the demanded requirements.

Speaker: Dr. Lorena Gutiérrez-Madroñal
Venue: MB564
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

7th September 2017 - Prof. Krishnamachar Sreenivasan

Flow in Computer Systems

New lines of attack are required to design computers efficiently in view of rapid advances in VLSI technology and increases in software complexity. This note presents a novel approach of portraying computer job execution as multi-phase single stream of instruction, data, and control competing for hardware and software resources. Fluid flow methods, though appealing, are limited to narrow range of problems. A theoretical treatment based on stochastic processes, complemented by measurements is envisaged. Job flow is frequently unstable and understanding factors that lead to flow instability is essential to prevent frequent, annoying, occurrence of ‘Blue screen’, a state, this analysis finds, is caused by eight factors. A job flow Reynolds number, R, is defined as ratio of factors aiding job execution to factors staunching job execution. Application layers frequently employed to increase programmer productivity and advances in computer design meant to exploit Instruction Level Parallelism are found to decrease program performance. Online Transaction Processing workload is stable for values of R, greater than 0.8. Online Transaction Processing Workload was used in controlled experiments to collect five sets of results in which the single processor architectural speed varied from 3.10 to 3.41 cycles per instruction.

Speaker: Prof. Krishnamachar Sreenivasan
Venue: MB146
Time: 15:00 - 16:00

9th May 2017 - Dr. Florian Steinberg

Introduction to second order complexity theory

Classical computability and complexity theory use Turing machines as a foundation for consideration of effectivity (computability) and efficiency (polynomial-time computability) of operations on countable discrete structures. For many applications in engineering it would be desirable to not only compute on countable discrete structures but also to compute on continuous structures like the real numbers. The most common model for computation on the real numbers by digital computers are floating point computations. Modeling real numbers by machine numbers is unsatisfactory from a mathematical point of view as the content of a proof of correctness of a mathematical algorithm is usually completely lost during an implementation. A mathematical rigorous and realistic model for computation on continuous structures is provided by computable analysis. The finite strings as codes for elements of a structure are replaced by total string functions that provide on demand information about the element they encode. Functions between encoded spaces can then be computed by operating on Baire space: The space of all total string functions. Computation on Baire space is done using oracle Turing machines. Intuitively, oracle Turing machines correspond to programs with function calls. It is not a priory clear which of these programs should be considered fast. We introduce the accepted class of polynomial-time computable operators on Baire space, i.e. we specify what programs with function calls should be considered efficient. The definition resembles classical polynomial-time computability very closely (due to work by Kapron and Cook). However, there are some important differences that we investigate in some detail.

Speaker: Dr. Florian Steinberg
Venue: MB108
Time: 11:00 - 12:30

28th March 2017 - Dr. Joao Carreira

Understanding people in videos

The problem of “understanding” people in videos has been a long-standing central challenge in computer vision and artificial intelligence. In this talk I will first discuss recent technical advances in human pose estimation using models that make iterative passes through convolutional networks. I will then describe a novel (sorely needed) dataset for human action recognition, gathered from YouTube, having an order of magnitude more videos than existing datasets. I will show that this dataset enables a new type of spatiotemporal models which obtain results considerably above the state-of-the-art on popular benchmarks.

Speaker: Dr. Joao Carreira
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

21st March 2017 - Dr. Leandro Minku

Online Ensemble Learning of Data Streams with Gradually Evolved Classes

In machine learning, class evolution is the phenomenon of class emergence and disappearance. It is likely to occur in many data stream problems, which are problems where additional training data become available over time. For example, in the problem of classifying tweets according to their topic, new topics may emerge over time, and certain topics may become unpopular and not discussed anymore. Therefore, class evolution is an important research topic in the area of learning data streams. Existing work implicitly regards class evolution as an abrupt change. However, in many real world problems, classes emerge or disappear gradually. This gives rise to extra challenges, such as non-stationary imbalance ratios between the different classes in the problem. In this talk, I will present an ensemble approach able to deal with gradually evolved classes. In order to quickly adjust to class evolution, the ensemble maintains a base learner for each class and dynamically creates, updates and (de)activates base learners whenever new training data become available. It also uses a dynamic undersampling technique in order to deal with the non-stationary class imbalance present in this type of problem. Empirical studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach in various class evolution scenarios in comparison with existing class evolution approaches.

Speaker: Dr. Leandro Minku
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

14th March 2017 - Dr. Mike Joy and Dr. Meurig Beynon


CONSTRUIT! is a three year Erasmus+ project, involving six partners led by the University of Warwick and scheduled for completion in August 2017, on the theme of "Making construals as a new digital skill for creating interactive open educational resources".

Where programs reflect the practices of a mind following rules, construals are artefacts developed by a mind making sense of a situation. In this respect, a construal is well-matched to the unconventional role that Seymour Papert had in mind for programs in his constructionist approach to learning: that of objects-to-think-with whose construction obliges the learner to reflect on the basis for their knowledge and in that process enrich their domain understanding.

This seminar will discuss the significance of making construals in relation to three research topics motivated by Papert's work:

  • principles and practices that support constructionism;
  • objects-to-think-with as a basis for novel learning resources;
  • exploiting constructionist principles in the classroom and curriculum.
It will take the form of a reflective illustrated account of the work that has been done towards developing, deploying and evaluating techniques and environments for making construals in the course of CONSTRUIT!.

Speakers: Dr. Mike Joy and Dr. Meurig Beynon
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

7th March 2017 - Dr. William Langdon

Long-Term Evolution in Genetic Programming

We evolve 6-mux populations of genetic programming binary Boolean trees for up to 100,000 generations. As there is no bloat control, programs with more than a hundred million nodes may be created by crossover. These are by far the largest programs yet evolved. Our unbounded Long-Term Evolution Experiment LTEE GP appears not to evolve building blocks but does suggests a limit to bloat.

We do see periods of tens even hundreds of generations where the whole population is functionally converged. In contrast to wetware LTEE experiments with bacteria (genome 4.6 million base pairs in length and 66000 generations), we do not see continual innovation, but instead although each tree in the population may be different, they all have the same phenotype (in that they can all solve the multiplexor benchmark) and the code next to the tree's root becomes highly stable.

We test theory about the distribution of tree sizes. Surprisingly in real finite populations with typical GP tournament selection we do see deviations from crossover only theoretical predictions.

Speaker: Dr. William Langdon
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

21st February 2017 - Eike Neumann

Representations for feasibly approximable functions

Given a continuous real function, two of the most basic computational tasks are the computation of its integral and its range. Both problems are generally perceived to be ``easy'' by practitioners (given that the domain is one-dimensional). Hence it was surprising when Ko and Friedman in 1982 proved that these problems are #P-hard and NP-hard, respectively.

Our hypothesis is that this discrepancy is due to the fact that complexity theorists use the simplest natural representation of continuous real functions, which treats all polytime computable functions equally. Practitioners, on the other hand, use representations which are biased towards a small class of functions that typically occur in practice. We evaluate this hypothesis using both theoretical and practical tools.

Building on work by Labhalla, Lombardi, and Moutai (2001) and Kawamura, Mueller, Roesnick, and Ziegler (2015), we review several common admissible representations of continuous real functions, study their polynomial-time reducibility lattice and benchmark their performance using the AERN Haskell library for exact real computation.

We include the standard continuous function representation used in computational complexity theory where all polytime computable functions are polytime representable.

The other representations we study are all based on rigorous approximations by polynomials or rational functions with dyadic coefficients. In these representations maximisation and integration are feasibly computable but not all polytime computable functions are polytime representable.

We show that the representation by piecewise-polynomial approximations is equivalent to the representation by rational function approximations with respect to polynomial-time reducibility.

These two representations seem to form a sweet spot regarding the trade-off between the ability to feasibly represent a large number of functions and the ability to feasibly compute operations such as integration and maximisation.

Speaker: Eike Neumann
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

14th February 2017 - Dr. Anakreontas Mentis

Productivity tools for a legacy interpreted programming language

Phoebus Software Ltd is a leading provider of software for the management of lending and savings at financial institutions. Phoebus has been able to produce high quality reliable software fast with the help of their in-house programming language called P4. P4 has features for rapid development of complex form-based database-backed applications. However, P4 was designed 20 years ago and lacks tools present in modern programming languages such as code checkers and IDEs. Moreover, P4 is interpreted and supports code changes on-the-fly when deployed. This dynamic nature of the language has become an obstacle as the code base has grown very large. We describe how we improved the definition of the P4 language and produced a validator that, when integrated with an IDE, identifies various classes of programming defects while editing a P4 program. In particular, we have added a type system to P4 and defined finite-state models for the database interaction. We also give an overview of the technology used under the hood, namely the Haskell functional programming language, the Parsec parser library and the Hoopl library for control flow analysis.

Speaker: Dr. Anakreontas Mentis
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

7th February 2017 - Dr. Dimitris Kolovos

Towards Scalable Model-Driven Engineering

Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) is a software engineering approach that promotes domain-specific models as first-class artefacts of the software development and maintenance lifecycle. As MDE is increasingly used for the development of larger and more complex software systems, the current generation of modelling and model management technologies are being pushed to their limits.

In this talk I will provide an overview of some of the most important scalability challenges that manifest when working with large (collections of) domain-specific models. I will then go through ongoing work that attempts to address these challenges by providing support for parallel and reactive code generation, partial model loading, and model indexing.

Speaker: Dr. Dimitris Kolovos
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

24th January 2017 - Raghavendra Raj

Business Intelligence Solution for an SME: a Case Study

Business Intelligence (BI) leverages the usefulness of existing information. It equips business users with relevant information to perform various analyses to make key business decisions. Over the last two decades, BI has become a core strategy for the growth of many companies, in particular large corporations. However, studies show that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lag behind in implementation and exploitation of BI solutions. To stay ahead of the competition, SMEs must be able to monitor and effectively use all of their resources, in particular information resources, to assist them in making important business decisions. We have examined the challenges such as lack of technical expertise and limited budget when implementing a BI solution within an SME in the UK. In light of our experiences in tackling these issues, this seminar discusses how these challenges can be overcome through applying various tools and strategies and the potential benefits.

Speaker: Raghavendra Raj
Venue: MB220
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

20th January 2017 - Dr. Stephen Marsh

Slow Computing, Wisdom, and ideas for Comfort-able Answers to Fake News

Remember Flash Crashes? Computing is fast, by default. That's good, but there are times when it does to slow down to the speed of thought and consider what the fast decisions might result in, not far down the line. More, it behooves us to think more about the people in the system, and how they can help the system be 'more'. This idea, the concept of Slow Computing, grew from discussions at Dagstuhl about a year ago, and gradually began to contribute to explorations of Wisdom in computational systems. Wisdom, the capacity for contextually guided rational and correct thought in unfamiliar situations, seems exactly the kind of thing we need to bring our computational systems into the human world, where they are going to have to be. This talk presents our thoughts and research on Slow Computing and Wisdom before diving into the related concepts of Device Comfort and Computational Trust, and ends with a look at how thinking more slowly and integrating and comfort and trust reasoning into information systems might just help us in some of the more pressing challenges of social media.

Speaker: Dr. Stephen Marsh
Venue: MB146
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

29th November 2016 - Dr. Yulan He

Unsupervised Event Extraction and Storyline Generation from Text

This talk consists of two parts. In the first part, I will present our proposed Latent Event and Categorisation Model (LECM) which is an unsupervised Bayesian model for the extraction of structured representations of events from Twitter without the use of any labelled data. The extracted events are automatically clustered into coherence event type groups. The proposed framework has been evaluated on over 60 millions tweets and has achieved a precision of 70%, outperforming the state-of-the-art open event extraction system by nearly 6%. The LECM model has been extended to jointly modelling event extraction and visualisation in which each event is modelled as a joint distribution over named entities, a date, a location and event-related keywords. Moreover, both tweets and event instances are associated with coordinates in the visualization space. Experimental results show that the proposed approach performs remarkably better than both the state-of-the-art event extraction method and a pipeline approach for event extraction and visualization.

In the second part of my talk, I will present a non-parametric generative model to extract structured representations and evolution patterns of storylines simultaneously. In the model, each storyline is modelled as a joint distribution over some locations, organizations, persons, keywords and a set of topics. We further combine this model with the Chinese restaurant process so that the number of storylines can be determined automatically without human intervention. The proposed model has been evaluated on three news corpora and the experimental results show that it generates coherent storylines from new articles.

Speaker: Dr. Yulan He
Venue: MB404A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

15th November 2016 - Dr. David Sanderson

Advanced Manufacturing: An Application Domain for Adaptive Systems Research

This talk will discuss manufacturing as an application domain and some of the research being done at the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham. The talk will be grounded in real demonstration scenarios designed to address industrial problems. Particular detail will be given to the adaptive agent-based architectural concept and an approach for determining the realisability (or manufacturability) of products in a "batch-size-of-one" situation, where each product being made in a system may be unique.

Speaker: Dr. David Sanderson
Venue: MB404A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00

11th October 2016 - Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez

From linked files to NoSQL graphs: analysis of Eclipse projects

Hawk [1] is an indexing solution that can monitor collections of structured files, mirror them into typed graphs, and query them in an efficient and concise way. Nodes can be indexed by attribute values, and types can be extended with derived attributes and edges depending on the queries to be done.

Hawk has been recently extended with the capability for reading the metadata that links Eclipse plugins together and groups them into high-level projects. In this talk, I will introduce the concepts behind Hawk and discuss the state of our current studies on the codebase. I am looking for feedback on our current approach and pointers to structural pattern recognition approaches that may be useful for this software repository mining problem.


Speaker: Dr. Antonio Garcia-Dominguez
Venue: MB404A
Time: 14:00 - 15:00