Computer Science @ University of St Andrews

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News and Events Archive (10/09/08 to 30/06/11)

This page lists all the school news items in full from 10th September 2008 to 30th June 2011.

News module released

2008-09-10 at 10:30

A Drupal news module developed by Markus Tauber and Norman Paterson goes live today. The module enables authorised users - all school staff and research students at present - to log in to the school web site and post news items. This replaces the old system which required items to be emailed to the systems staff who then edited web pages manually. The system takes care of publishing them on the school home page, and then archiving them for reference.

A wiki page explains how to post, edit or delete items. An API also makes it possible for school web authors to include news items in their own pages. This will allow, for example, research groups to include news items about their research area, or individuals to include news about themselves, in their own pages. However the filtering mechansim to support this is not ready yet.

It is hoped that, as well as reducing work load, this development will encourage staff to post more news items, so making the school web pages more lively and interesting.

An Algorithmic Interpretation of a Deep Inference System

2008-09-11 at 10:15 to 12:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Dr Kai Brünnler, University of Bern (joint work with Richard McKinley)

We set out to find something that corresponds to deep inference in the same way that the lambda-calculus corresponds to natural deduction. Starting from natural deduction for the conjunction-implication fragment of intuitionistic logic we design a corresponding deep inference system together with reduction rules on proofs that allow a fine-grained simulation of beta-reduction. The principal way of composing our proof terms is not function application, as in the lambda-calculus, but is function composition, as in composition of arrows in a category. It turns out that our proof terms are similar to some categorical combinators that Curien designed in the eighties. The difference between our combinators and Curien's is in the presentation of the defining adjunctions of a cartesian closed category. In a certain sense, our presentation reveals the duality between introduction- and elimination rules in natural deduction: they are units and counits of adjunctions.

SCONE (SCOttish Networking Event)

2008-09-11 at 12:30 to 16:00 in Cole Bldg

SCONE is the SCOttish Networking Event - an informal gathering of networking and systems researchers in and around Scotland. The goal of these meetings is to foster interaction between researchers from our various institutions. Each meeting will take place over the course of an afternoon, and feature:

* talks from PhD students and research staff
* discussions of possible funding opportunities, job opportunities and other events relevant to Scottish networking and systems research
* food and drink

Our first meeting will take place on 11 September 2008 in St Andrews. We plan to meet 3-4 times a year, with our next meeting in November in Glasgow. A mailing list has also been created, to keep interested parties in touch, and you are encouraged to subscribe.

Attendance is free, but if you would like to attend the St Andrews meeting, we would appreciate an RSVP to Tristan Henderson (tristan, by 1 September 2008 to help with planning. If you would like to give a talk at this or future events, please also get in touch by e-mail.

Please feel free to forward this announcement to any other interested parties.

Can't log in?

2008-09-14 at 23:00

If you have just returned from your summer vacation you probably won’t be able to log in to your account. This is because we have changed to a new authentication system. We can’t transfer the old passwords because we don’t know what they are. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get your single-use password from one of the systems team. You have to go in person.
  2. Use your single-use password to log in to a lab client, preferably one of the Macs in the 2nd year lab (which has moved to Honey 105 – just to keep you on your toes). You can’t do this remotely at present.
  3. The system will ask you to enter a new password.
    1. Try to enter your old password. If it works, your life will be simpler during the system changes still to come.
    2. If your old password is rejected, it does not meet the new security criteria. Make up a new password which:
      • Is at least 7 characters long.
      • Has characters from at least 3 of the following 4 categories:
        • Upper case letters.
        • Lower case letters.
        • Numerals.
        • Punctuation.

While we are changing over, some people will have two passwords, and some school services will authenticate against the old system, and some against the new.

  • The old system is called NIS or “legacy”.
  • The new authentication system is called AD or Active Directory.
  • This wiki page shows which services use which authentication system.

Seeing ethnographically: an introductory workshop in field study for systems design

2008-09-17 at 13:00 to 16:00

The workshop/tutorial will provide a good introduction to the social scientific research method of ethnography. There will be a particular focus on how it has been and how it may be usefully employed to study activities involving computer technology use in the 'real world'. Studying computer use with ethnography in natural settings has provided a useful resource for computer science for several reasons: (1) It has lead to better understanding of use (2) It has helped in the design of systems that fit with the needs of users, and (3) It has lead to improvements in methods for the design of social-technical systems. In all, ethnography has provided new design sensibilities.

This workshop is aimed at researchers in social sciences, management, psychology and computer science who may be involved of field studies of work in a real user setting.

The workshop is supported by the EPSRC and the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA). There is no registration fee. Please let us know if you are coming so that we can order enough coffee (email gina,

David Martin is a research scientist working for Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE) in Grenoble, France. He works for the Work Practice Technology group, having previously been a research fellow in the Computing Department of Lancaster University. His work involves employing ethnographic techniques to study work and technology use from an ethnomethodological perspective. These studies are used to understand the impacts of technology in real world settings and to feed into the design of innovative new applications. His work has covered a diverse set of topics ranging from ambulance control, to banking, healthcare, eXtreme Programming and now is focused on high production colour printing and legal work.

St Andrews flies high in Sunday Times University Guide

2008-09-21 at 23:00

St Andrews University is ranked as fifth in the UK by the Sunday Times University Guide.

GAP Group wins award

2008-09-23 at 23:00

During the International Symposium on Symbolic and Algebraic Computation (ISSAC 2008) in Linz "The GAP Group" was awarded the biannual "Richard Dimick Jenks Memorial Prize" for Excellence in Software Engineering Applied to Computer Algebra.

MacMillan Coffee Morning

2008-09-26 at 10:00 in Cole Coffee Area

Friday 26th September is the day MacMillan raises money from coffee mornings all around the UK. We will have cakes and biscuits available in the Cole Coffee Area and donations are welcome. Last year we raised £100. Staff and students are invited to attend and to bake or buy cakes for this event.

Best IT student award 2008

2008-09-29 at 23:00

Martin Conaghan, a 2008 graduate from the School of Computer Science of the University of St Andrews, has won the prestigious "Best IT Student" award at the 2008 Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year awards held in London on the 26th September.

The award is sponsored and judged by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The photo shows Martin receiving his award from IET Fellow Simon Madison.

Martin Conaghan receiving the SET award from Simon Madison

Martin's final year Computer Science project at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews involved the design and implementation of a Games Creation Tool for Children, targeted for use on the "One Laptop Per Child" computer which is now being distributed in parts of Africa.

His final year project supervisor, Colin Allison, commented on the potential criticism that the last thing an African child needs is a computer to create games on. "This is readily refuted as Martin was motivated by his experience of voluntary work educating children in Africa during his undergraduate vacations. His Games Creation application is something he knew would help children engage with ICT and positively complement other initiatives such as those concerned with health and agriculture."

Martin was awarded a 1st Class (Hons) BSc. at St Andrews in June 2008. He then departed for Africa to carry out more voluntary work and also some travelling. It was quite difficult for the University to contact him when the SET short list was announced in July, but a ping on Facebook eventually succeeded. His schedule placed him at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro at the same time as the SET awards interviews, but he was able to rush down in time to catch a flight to London. He returned to Africa shortly after the awards ceremony.

Language Extensions for Open Nested Transactions

2008-10-09 at 13:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Language Extensions for Open Nested Transactions

Tony Hosking, Purdue University

We are seeing many proposals supporting atomic transactions in programming languages, software libraries, and hardware, some with and some without support for nested transactions. In the long run, it is important to support nesting, and to go beyond closed nesting to open nesting. I will argue as to the general form open nesting should take and why, namely that it is a property of classes (data types) not code regions, and must include support for programmed concurrency control as well as programmed rollback. I will also touch on the implications for software or hardware transactional memory in order to support open nesting of this kind. I will describe a concrete proposal for open nested transactions in Java. We argue that open nesting is most usefully seen as a way to express concurrency abstractions at different levels or granularities within (layered) data structures. To support this, we specify open nesting as a property of the class in Java, since the class is the principal data abstraction mechanism for Java programmers. Concurrency abstractions based on open nesting relax physical (memory-level) serializability while preserving abstract serializability. Abstract serializability is specified by the programmer in terms of abstract locks, which are associated with each of the operations (i.e., methods) operating at a given abstraction level (i.e., class), to specify the logical conflicts among concurrently executing operations. Abstract locks come with a predefined compatibility matrix used by the run-time system to mediate execution of these operations. We will describe the syntax and semantics of open nested classes for Java, and explore the power of the approach with an example. We will also point out possible pitfalls for programmers using open nesting, and discuss rules of thumb for programmers to use to avoid these problems.

Scheduling framework for Manticore

2008-10-15 at 10:15 in Cole 0.37

Manticore is a parallel programming language aimed at general-purpose
applications running on multi-core processors. Manticore supports multiple
forms of parallelism: coarse-grain parallelism via explicit threads,
mid-grain parallelism via parallel bindings, fine-grain parallelism via
data-parallel arrays. It also supports speculative parallelism for the
latter two forms. We have designed a compiler and runtime system to
experiment with this language design. One challenge for our compiler and
runtime is providing flexibility for experimentation while maintaining
efficiency; another is taming the growing complexity of the implementation.
In this talk, I will describe our approach to these challenges. As a
representative example, I will describe our unified cancelation mechanism
for supporting speculative parallelism. Then I will describe some empirical
analysis of our implementation. I will end with discussion of recent work,
which has been influenced by the empirical analysis.

Opera Software Seminar

2008-10-20 at 11:00 to 13:00 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

Opera Software is touring universities across the globe with seminars and panel discussions from the developers and product managers behind Opera’s innovative desktop and Opera Mini Web browsers.
● History and future of the Web
● Web browser industry
● Open Web standards
● Mobile Web browsing in developing countries
Enhance your learning about the Web, gain new perspectives on technology trends, and network with people leading the IT industry.

Inhabiting negative types

2008-10-20 at 13:00 to 15:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Dr Stéphane Lengrand
Chargé de Recherche at CNRS - École Polytechnique, France

Abstract: In this talk I will challenge the view, which I among many have often put
forward, that classical logic is symmetrical. The view is perhaps strengthened
by the intuitions of boolean algebra, dualising as negation, De Morgan’s laws,
and is reflected in many proof theoretic formalisms or semantics.

An extended abstract is available from the Computational Logic Seminars web page.

Research Fellow position - Privacy Value Networks

2008-10-20 at 15:40

The University of St Andrews seeks a highly-motivated researcher to work on a major new research project investigating the way the public thinks about privacy and how organisations can model the costs and benefits of processing personal information.

The Privacy Value Networks (pvnets) project has been funded by the EPSRC/ESRC/TSB under the "Ensuring Privacy and Consent" programme. The project partners are the Oxford Internet Institute, the School of Management at the University of Bath, the Department of Computer Science at UCL, and the School of Computer Science at St Andrews.

The successful candidate will help to develop new methodologies for understanding conceptions of privacy in various contexts. In particular, you will develop an experience sampling environment and network measurement infrastructure for mobile phones and sensor devices, and use these for conducting user studies and experiments to understand privacy in social and sensor networks. You will work closely with a PhD student at St Andrews, as well as fellows and students at the other project partners.

A PhD in Computer Science, Engineering or equivalent experience is essential, as is experience in conducting user studies and/or network measurement studies. The ideal candidate will also have experience or interests in wireless sensor networks, programming mobile applications, and experimental economics or psychology.

Informal enquiries to Tristan Henderson via e-mail.

Application forms can be found on the University web pages.

Human-Computer Interaction: as it was, as it is, and as it may be

2008-11-06 at 10:00 to 15:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

A set of three lectures by Professor Alan Dix (Lancaster University) - a renowned expert in the field of human-computer interaction.

A new webpage for the EPSRC postdoctoral project "CLANN".

2008-11-25 at 10:50

A webpage for the project "Computational Logic in Artificial Neural Networks" has been launched.
It will contain announcements of events, papers, conference and workshop presentations.

Knowledge Representation and Reasoning for the Semantic Web

2009-01-21 at 14:30 to 16:00 in Cole 1.33

The emerging Semantic Web is based on the enrichment of data on the World Wide Web by so-called metadata in the form of ontologies, which are used for conveying the meaning, or semantics, of data on the Web. The techniques enable the use of intelligent systems on the Web for applications such as enhanced search, knowledge integration, ubiquitous computing, and many others.

Foundational for the Semantic Web is the representation of knowledge by logic-based formalisms, together with suitable automated reasoning techniques. For this purpose, the World Wide Web Consortium has established recommendations for representation standards, including the Web Ontology Language OWL which is based on Description Logics.

In this talk, we will present major knowledge representation formalisms for the Semantic Web and discuss recent challenges and developments. In particular, we will present approaches to dealing with the problem of scalability of automated reasoning and new results on the integration of ontologies and rule-based systems.

Neural-symbolic Integration

2009-01-22 at 14:30 to 16:00 in Cole 1.33

Intelligent systems based on symbolic knowledge processing, on the one hand, and on artificial neural networks (also called connectionist systems), on the other, differ substantially. Nevertheless, both of these are standard paradigms in artificial intelligence, and it would be very desirable to combine the robustness of neural networks with the expressivity of symbolic knowledge representation. This is the reason why the importance of the efforts to bridge the gap between the connectionist and symbolic paradigms of Artificial Intelligence is widely recognised and gaining momentum. As the amount of hybrid data containing symbolic and statistical elements as well as noise increases in diverse areas such as bioinformatics or text and web mining, neural-symbolic learning and reasoning becomes of particular practical importance.

In this talk we report on past and recent developments in this area, which are taylored towards the connectionist acquisition and processing of symbolic knowledge. Particular emphasis will be given to the problem of connectionist treatments of knowledge which goes beyond propositional logic, e.g. in the form of first-order predicate logic programs. This includes a report on joint work with Sebastian Bader, Steffen Hölldobler and Andreas Witzel on the design and implementation of an integrated neural-symbolic learning system which can process such logic programs.

Berwickshire High School visit

2009-01-28 at 11:00 to 15:00 in Cole Bldg

Students from Berwickshire High School are visiting us to find out what Computer Science is all about.

Applicant Visiting Day

2009-01-31 at 11:00 to 20:00 in Cole Bldg

The Visiting Day, specifically for UCAS applicants, comprises a full programme to show what studying Computer Science at St Andrews is all about. Visitors will hear talks from lecturers, professors and current students. They will try out some computer science exercises in one of our lecture theatres with the chance to win some prizes. They will see demonstrations of research projects from undergraduates and postgraduate researchers. They will also be fed!

After the Computer Science programme, current students will conduct tours of our student residences, and help explore the town of St Andrews. Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to attend a dinner with other applicants, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and members of staff. This will give the chance to ask any remaining questions in an informal setting.

For directions to the School, or any other queries, see the contact details page.

A unifying framework for forwarding paradigms

2009-02-05 at 11:00 to 12:00 in Cole 1.33a

A unifying framework for forwarding paradigms Kavé Salamatian, Lancaster University

Forwarding is the issue that has to face a node when he has to send a piece of local information. In classical wired networks, this reduces to decide for each received packet to which neighbor(s) we should send it. Nonetheless, recent years have seen a growing interest in providing communication in environments where connectivity is not ensured permanently. In such environments forwarding is not applied whenever a packet arrives but rather whenever a transmission opportunity happens. This rather trivial observation results in deep changes in the way we consider forwarding in such challenging environments. The problem moves from choosing the node (the interface) to forward a packet, to choosing the packet (or combination of packets) to forward to the encountered node(s). The packet should be chosen based on information local to the node and eventually using the destination of the message. We will present in this talk a framework englobing all different forwarding paradigm in delay tolerant networks as well as classical networks. This new framework open new way for developing forwarding schemes for challenging scenarios.

Kavé Salamatian is a reader jointly appointed in Computing and communication systems Dept. at Lancaster university. Formerly he was an Associate Professor at Paris VI University in France. His main areas of research are networking information theory and Internet measurement and modelling. He has graduated in 1998 from Paris-SUD Orsay University with a Ph.D. degree in computer science. He worked during his Ph.D. on joint source-channel coding applied to multimedia transmission over Internet. Dr. Salamatian also has an M.S. in theoretical computer science from Paris XI University (1996) and an M.S. in communication engineering from Isfahan University of Technology (1995).

Au revoir Greg


PhD student Greg Bigwood has been invited to work with researchers at the INRIA lab in Paris. This was after presenting a poster at the CoNEXT conference on his work in using social network delay-tolerant network routing. Greg will be working on using social networks for improving information dissemination in mobile networks.

Functional Programming Fortnightly Lunches

2009-02-11 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Honey 103 (GFB)

From 11 February, the Functional Programming Group will be hosting lunchtime talks every other Wednesday from 1-2pm.

Light nibbles will be provided, and a speaker will be giving a brief 15-20 minute talk related to functional programming or computational logic.

The first talk will be given by Edwin Brady.

The talks are open to the public.

HandiVote: Simple, Anonymous and Auditable Electronic Voting

2009-02-12 at 12:05 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

Paul Cockshott and Karen Renaud (University of Glasgow) suggest a set of procedures utilizing a range of technologies by which a major democratic deficit of modern society can be addressed. The mechanism, whilst it makes limited use of cryptographic techniques in the background, is based around objects and procedures with which voters are currently familiar. We believe that this holds considerable potential for the extension of democratic participation and control.

Delay Tolerant and Opportunistic Networks

2009-02-23 at 10:00 to 16:00 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

We are so used to networks that are "always there", so called infrastructural networks such as the phone system, Internet, the cellular (GSM, CDMA, 3G) and so on that we forget that once upon a time (why, only in the 1970s) computer communications was fraught with problems of reliability, and challenged by very high cost (or availability) of connectivity and capacity. One we had UUCP and E-Mail, which predate any of today's infrastructures, but coped very well with these challenges. Now, it appears that it is worth revisiting these ideas for a variety of reasons: it looks like we cannot afford to build a Solar System wide Internet just yet; it looks like one can build effective end-to-end mobile applications out of wireless communication opportunities that arise out of infrequent and short contacts between devices carried by people in close proximity, and then wait til these people move on geographically to the next hop; it is interesting to speculate that these systems may actually have much higher potential capacity than infrastructural wireless access networks, although they present other challenges (notably higher delay). This set of talks will be about the last 10 years of work leading up to our current understanding of how to build Delay Tolerant and Opportunistic Networks, and how to model their performance.

Implementation of Regular Languages with Dependent Type Theory

2009-02-25 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Vladimir Komendantsky

In the talk, I will present my Coq development of regular expressions and non-deterministic finite automata which is meant to serve as part in a formal certification effort currently undertaken by me and my employer, the software company We will briefly touch upon some basics related to structural fixpoint definitions and inductive type definitions in type theory. We will consider various ways of defining regular expressions in Coq. The two most representative methods amount to fixpoint and dependent
inductive type definitions respectively. I will demonstrate limitations of fixpoints, notably with respect to building proofs, and explain advantages of definitions based on dependent inductive types. Finally, I will relate the type-theoretic model to functional programming by virtue of an example of a constructive function returning an instance of a dependent inductive type. Typically, such a function is given by a proof of a theorem which asserts a constructive existence of an inductive type instance
satisfying chosen specifications.

Natural Computation for Reasoning and Learning Applications

2009-03-17 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Cole 1.33

Prof Kai-Uwe Kuehnberger (University of Osnabrueck (Germany). Prof Kuehnberger is an assistant professor for artificial intelligence at the Institute of Cognitive Science (IKW) of the University of Osnabrueck. He obtained a Master's degree from the University of Tuebingen with a thesis about fixed points in algebraic structures and a PhD in Computational Linguistics with a thesis about modeling circularity in natural and formal languages. His main research interest is the modeling of higher cognitive abilities. In particular, he is interested in analogical reasoning, ontology design and text technology, neural-symbolic integration, and cognitive architectures. He is one of the executive editors of the newly established Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, survey editor of the Elsevier Journal Cognitive Systems Research, and series editor of the newly established book series "Thinking Machines" (Atlantis Press). He has been serving as co-PI in the project "Modeling of Analogies with Heuristic-Driven Theory Projection" and in the project "Adaptive Ontologies on Extreme Markup Languages", both funded by the German Research Foundations. Furthermore, he is one of the co-PIs of the graduate school "Cognitive Science" at the IKW funded by the state Lower Saxony.

Translating Logic into Neural Networks

2009-03-18 at 15:00 to 16:00 in Cole 1.33

Prof Kai-Uwe Kuehnberger (University of Osnabrueck, Germany). Prof Kuehnberger is an assistant professor for artificial intelligence at the Institute of Cognitive Science (IKW) of the University of Osnabrueck. He obtained a Master's degree from the University of Tuebingen with a thesis about fixed points in algebraic structures and a PhD in Computational Linguistics with a thesis about modeling circularity in natural and formal languages. His main research interest is the modeling of higher cognitive abilities. In particular, he is interested in analogical reasoning, ontology design and text technology, neural-symbolic integration, and cognitive architectures. He is one of the executive editors of the newly established Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, survey editor of the Elsevier Journal Cognitive Systems Research, and series editor of the newly established book series "Thinking Machines" (Atlantis Press). He has been serving as co-PI in the project "Modeling of Analogies with Heuristic-Driven Theory Projection" and in the project "Adaptive Ontologies on Extreme Markup Languages", both funded by the German Research Foundations. Furthermore, he is one of the co-PIs of the graduate school "Cognitive Science" at the IKW funded by the state Lower Saxony.

Fun and Games- What the hell is release management ?

2009-03-19 at 14:15 to 15:15 in Cole 0.35 MSc IT Lab

Talk by Gordon Milligan, QA and Release Manager of Realtime Worlds.

Enhancing the Verilog hardware description language

2009-03-23 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Cole 1.33a Lab

Cherif Salama (Rice University, Texas) will give a talk on enhancing the Verilog hardware description language by providing more static guarantees. (This talk will be in lieu of the Fortnightly Functional Programming Lunch.)

2009-03-24 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Cole 0.35 MSc IT Lab

Robert Japp of the Amazon Development Centre Scotland will give a talk about what's involved with running one of the world's largest websites and provide an insight into the work of the development centre in Edinburgh.

Second Annual Staff vs Student Football Match

2009-04-24 at 16:00 to 17:30 in University Sports Centre

Last year, in a close encounter, the undergraduate student team prevailed with a 3-0 victory over staff and postgraduate students. This year’s match will kick-off at 5pm on Friday 24th April on the Sports Centre’s astroturf pitches, with staff eager to avenge past results. All are welcome to attend and support either team – those who wish to play can contact Angus Macdonald in person or by email.

Process Algebra for Parallel and Distributed Processing

2009-04-27 at 15:03

we would like to draw your attention to the recently published book 'Process Algebra for Parallel and Distributed Processing' . Exploring state-of-the-art applications, the book shows how one formal method of reasoning—process algebra—has become a powerful tool for solving design and implementation challenges of concurrent systems.

The main sections are:

Parallel Programming

Divided into three parts, the book begins by parallelizing an algorithm for the Cell Broadband Engine processor of Sony, Toshiba, and IBM. It also develops a runtime environment that can be ported to different parallel platforms and describes the formal model of action systems.

Distributed Systems

The next part presents a process algebra (mCRL2) that targets distributed applications, looks at how to turn prose descriptions into unambiguous specifications, extends pi-calculus to create a service-oriented mobility abstract machine, and introduces the Channel Ambient Machine for mobile applications.

Embedded Systems

The final section combines state-based Z with the event-based process algebra CSP in a formal methodology called Circus. It also develops a pair of process algebras (PARS) to address the problem of scheduling in real-time embedded systems and emphasizes the reuse of concurrent artifacts across different hardware platforms.

"Despite the importance of applications of process algebras for the success of the field, [related publications] concentrate strongly on the theoretical achievements. This shortcoming is compensated for in a splendid way by this book, which brings together the state of the art in research on applications of process algebras."

—From the Foreword, Kees Middelburg. University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Available e.g. on Amazon. {com, de}:

Guardian University Guide 2010

2009-05-12 at 23:00

Computer Science ranked 2nd in The Guardian University Guide 2010.

Complete University Guide 2010

2009-05-12 at 23:01

Computer Science ranked 4th in The Complete University Guide 2010.

Computer Science: first year student wins Falconer Essay Prize

2009-05-20 at 09:11

Isabel Peters, a first year Computer Science student from Berlin, won the Dr Falconer Essay Prize for Science, with an essay titled "Computer Science". The competition, organised by St Andrews in Focus magazine, invited undergraduates to explain their enthusiasm for their degree subject. Isabel is pictured at the presentation, with runner-up Philip Birget and St Andrews in Focus editor Flora Selwyn.


Isabel's essay is reproduced here by kind permission of St Andrews in Focus.

Computer Science, by Isabel Peters

Could you imagine living without your mobile phone, without a computer or a washing machine? Certainly not. Looking back to former times: people in the middle age used their intellectual capacity, their sensibility and their experience to build houses, to get food and to distinguish between enemy and friend. But humans have become more demanding, and people now find it necessary to process much more data. No genius could manage a database with millions of account numbers or encrypt and decrypt data in a fraction of a second – so they had to create something that is able to do all of this: computers.

Computers cannot replace human beings, but they can help them, make their lives easier, more comfortable, and understandable. But what is so special about computers? Computer science is a very exciting subject that concerns us everywhere and everyday. Early in the morning we get up by an alarm because it is programmed to do so. The traffic light switches to red and green and makes sure that we can cross a street safely. A computer works because it is compiled with various components, such as software programmed to show a windows (or a Mac OS X) desktop with flashy icons.

To make a computer do what we want, we have to give it exact and precise assignments, called algorithms, which fix a special flow of data. An algorithm is logically arranged: so we tell the computer, for instance, to open a program when we click on an item on our desktop, to write some text into a file or to connect to if we type it into the browser. A special machine translates our assignments into a huge chain of zeroes and ones and the heart of the computer, the processor, then reacts accordingly. So in terms of rational intelligence, a small computer accomplishes a huge and astonishing amount of things. It is programmed to do what we want it to do. It is amazing and very exciting to develop its skills and to teach it to become more intelligent and powerful. Briefly said: a computer is primitive, but we have the ability to program it to make it to be smart.

Being a programmer, there is always the challenge of programming a computer. As a programmer, you have to plan your solution and you have to break down a problem into smaller pieces in order to accomplish a task step by step. When the task is solved, there is an indescribable feeling of luck, confidence and satisfaction.

Computer science is not sitting all day in front of a computer and bothering with boring, nerdy stuff. Computer science comprises writing code, which is an invention and creation. Programmers get their experience from understanding new processes every day: the Internet, an mp3 player, or digital media.

In addition to that, Computer science is not only a subject, which is limited to its subject itself, but it can combine almost every other area we are concerned with. For instance, it provides us with connectional and technical instruments that allow us to learn from nature (Bioinformatics). Computer science is also strongly tied with the logic of philosophy. Aristotle defined the basics of logic, and many centuries and philosophers later, the English mathematician, George Boole (1815 -1864), developed the essentials of programming code. Boole’s developments are indispensable for proofs in mathematics and processes in Computer science.

Handling a lot of numbers, and working with them daily, I chose Mathematics as my second subject. Similar to Computer science, it is straightforward and rational. As you have a tremendous feeling when you finish a program you always feel the same when proving a mathematical theorem. Mathematics is a basic subject for all sciences and it is an engaging factor in the economy and our society. A mathematician has to be very precise, concrete and exact in his procedure. So does a Computer scientist. A proof has a clearly arranged start and ending point, and it always ends with a concrete and logic solution. Mathematics is an astonishing and outstanding subject. Numbers themselves are very impressive and powerful, as they have a great impact to our life. For instance, have you ever tried to park your car perfectly?


Mathematics can, in a way, explain our life, our universe (physics) and there are also many natural phenomena strongly tied to mathematics: Fractals, for instance, are objects that contain the same objects just smaller and repeated for an infinite time (each in a different scale.) We find this phenomenon within a lot of plants.


Mathematics and Computer science encompass my passion and fascination but they are also hard work. However, my love for the challenge and the feeling when I have accomplished a task, make it all worth it. For my future career: Mathematicians and Computer scientists are in demand and the job market is very good. There are many key skills that I, as a computer scientist/ mathematician, will learn in the course of my academic studies. For instance: rational and logical thinking, the ability to communicate and to work in a group, and creativity. This is required by many companies and may open up many exciting career opportunities.

But just in case something goes wrong, there are seven special mathematical problems, called the millennium problems that I could try to find solutions to because it would provide a unique challenge and the substantial compensation of one million dollars per problem solved, would be an added bonus, :-)

However, Computer science and Mathematics is needed in almost every area and there are a lot of questions in our lives that need to be solved. I am willing and open to the possibilities that exist in many areas of IT Industry, and as the human tends to become more modern and technical, there will be always a need for those who make it possible.


2009-05-21 at 10:00 to 15:00 in St Andrews

The School of Computer Science will host the first workshop of the SICSA Complex Systems Engineering sub-theme
on the Theory of Resources for Autonomous and Dependable Scalable Systems (THREADSS)

The remit of the THREADSS group is to combine skills and tools in the following areas:

o Dependability Analysis
o Autonomous Systems
o Rigorous Methods
o Resource Modelling
o Scalability Techniques
o Abstraction Techniques
o Network Applications

The purpose of the workshop is to determine common research interests and directions. The first workshop will be fairly compact,
with the aim of setting up high-quality collaborations between groups/institions, and discovering research connections.

The main topics of the Workshop (to be refined) are:
interpretations of "resource"; application of various techniques to the study of resource information; integration of our tools; identification of applications.

The format of the workshop will be short presentations aiming to lead into open discussion sessions. Breakout areas will be available.

The workshop is organised by Kevin Hammond. Please contact him directly if you are interested in attending.

Kevin Hammond

2009-05-22 at 23:00

Kevin Hammond is on the Programme Committee for FOPARA 2009.

Kevin Hammond

2009-05-22 at 23:00

Kevin Hammond is on the Steering Committee for the summer school on Advances in Programming Languages.

St Andrews selected to host CP 2010

2009-05-22 at 23:00

The Association for Constraint Programming Executive Committee has announced the selection of St Andrews to host Principles and Practice of Constraint Programming 2010, the main academic constraint programming conference.

The Conference Chair will be Karen Petrie, supported by a local organising committee involving Peter Jeavons (Oxford), Chris Jefferson (St. Andrews), Alan Frisch (York), Ian Gent (St. Andrews), Angela Miguel (St. Andrews), Ian Miguel (St. Andrews), Patrick Prosser (Glasgow) and Barbara Smith (Leeds).

SICSA postgraduate conference

2009-06-03 at 09:00 to 15:50 in Gateway Centre

The 1st SICSA postgraduate conference will be held on 3rd June in St Andrews. This is open to all PhD students and staff in Scottish Universities. Keynote talk from Prof. Robin Milner, presentations from PhD students from all Scottish universities. Poster presentations.

Times Good University Guide 2010

2009-06-03 at 10:09

Computer Science ranked 7th in the Times Good University Guide.

Scottish Theorem Provers (STP) Meeting in St Andrews

2009-06-12 at 12:00 to 16:00 in Cole 1.33a

There will be a meeting of STP in St Andrews on Friday June 12th 2009, in the School of Computer Science, North Haugh, St Andrews, from 1.00 to 5.00pm.

Networks for Learning and the Demise of the VLE

2009-06-16 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Cole 1.33a

Hugh Davis, School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton

This presentation argues that the current generation of Virtual Learning Environments are no longer fit for purpose; they embody an approach to learning that supports ineffective/inappropriate didactic approaches, and do not complement the expectations or approaches to learning taken by Generation Y learners. Traditionally learning has been seen as a solitary and individualistic task; learning has been represented as committing knowledge to memory and the personal acquisition of skills and literacies. The affordances of early computer technologies amplified this perspective, and transitions of learning technologies to networked platforms sustained the individualist context within the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). However constructivist critiques of learning environments have emphasised the importance of social interactions and the benefits of groups working and problem solving as a means to learning and knowledge acquisition. Advances in Web technologies over this decade (the so called Web 2.0) have enabled us to build tools to support and integrate many kinds of collaboration and learning in networks. Such tools have been uncomfortably retrofitted to existing VLEs. The presentation examines progress in creating personal learning environments that put learners at the centre of their networks, and concludes by suggesting some research issues for learning technology in supporting networks for learning.

Hugh Davis is Head of the Learning Societies Lab (LSL) within the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, where is also the Director of Education with responsibility for E-Learning.

The seminar will be followed by cakes and discussion. Please e-mail to confirm attendance to help with catering calculations.

CIRCA Showcase and Invitation to Collaborate

2009-06-17 at 09:00 to 12:00 in Gateway Building

CIRCA: the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Computational
Algebra has fostered a range of collaborations between researchers in
mathematics and computer science since 2000. More recently we have been
exploring applications of some of our techniques in solid state physics
(with Chris Pickard) and quantum optics (with Ulf Leonhardt). Our core
areas of expertise include abstract algebra (groups, rings, etc. -- the
mathematics of structure and symmetry) computational algebra (getting
computers to do abstract algebra) constraint programming (a technique
for solving problems where you have to make a number of choices subject
to conditions that interrelate them -- for instance Sudoku, many
planning and scheduling problems, or colouring a map), symbolic
computation, parallel computing and non-numerical algorithms in general.
Some more information is at

We now have an opportunity to seek funding for a portfolio of short (2-6
man month) highly adventurous feasibility studies into possible new
collaborations and applications, with the possibility of "substantial
follow-on funding" if things go well. Thanks to the support of the
VP(Research) we are hosting a meeting on Wednesday 17 June (10-1) in the
Gateway, at which we will briefly present CIRCA, some of our core
techniques, and some of our previous collaborations. If you have
problems that you think we might be able to work on together there will
be an opportunity to present them, or display a poster, or just talk to
us about them. There will also be a free lunch.

We appreciate that the notice is short, but we are constrained by the
EPSRC schedule for the feasibility studies. If you are unable to come,
please feel free to pass on the invitation to a relevant colleague or
research student.

If you are thinking of coming, please email Angela Miguel
( so that we can keep you updated as the
programme settles down and get the numbers roughly right for the catering.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Steve Linton for CIRCA

Automation of Multi-Threaded Testing using Byteman

2009-06-19 at 09:00 to 10:00 in Cole 1.33a

Andrew Dinn has offered to present a preview of his upcoming Jazoon (Int.
Conf. on Java Tech.) presentation, this Friday morning (19/06/08) 10am in
Lecture theatre 1.33a.

Abstract available at:

Mini biography:
Andrew Dinn is a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat and is lead developer
for the JBoss Web Services Transactions (XTS) component of the JBoss
Transactions project. He has been writing system software in both industry
and academia for the last 25 years.

Constraints Group Obtains Major Research Council Funding

2009-06-30 at 13:36

Ian Miguel, Dharini Balasubraniam, Ian Gent, Tom Kelsey and Steve Linton have been awarded a £1.1M, 4.5-year grant from the EPSRC for "A Constraint Solver Synthesiser". Constraints offers an efficient means of representing and solving difficult combinatorial problems, such as planning, scheduling and timetabling. This project will develop a next-generation constraints system capable of synthesising a constraint solver tailored to the particular features of an input problem, greatly improving solving efficiency.

Face Transformer on Radio 1

2009-07-03 at 08:42

Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills had some fun with our face transformer

Adaptive Structured Parallelism for Heterogeneous Systems

2009-07-29 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Horacio González-Vélez (Robert Gordon University). Based on algorithmic skeletons, structured
parallelism provides a high-level parallel programming technique which allows the conceptual description
of parallel programs whilst fostering platform independence and algorithm abstraction. By decoupling the
algorithm specification from machine-dependent structural considerations, structured parallelism
allows programmers to code programs regardless of how the computation and communications will be
executed in the system platform.

This talk presents a methodology to improve structured parallelism by introducing adaptivity through resource awareness. As we hypothesise that a skeletal program should be able to adapt to the dynamic resource conditions over time using its structural forecasting information, we have developed a generic methodology to incorporate structural information at compilation into a parallel program, which will help it to adapt at execution.

Human Systems Integration in the System Development Process

2009-08-03 at 13:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Frank Ritter from Penn State will be giving a talk entitled "Human System Integration in the System Development Process" on Monday 3rd August at 2pm in the Goldfish Bowl. Please let Gordon Baxter (gdb) know if you plan to attend.

Frank Ritter was part of the Committee on Human-System Design Support for Changing Technology (2007) that provided the input for the book: "Human-System Integration in the System Development Process: A New Look" . In the book a revision to Boehm's Spiral Model for system development is proposed. I present here a summary of this model for system design. This report argues that not understanding aspects of the user can be a risk in system design. Thus, where there are no risks, system designers do not need to worry about users. In other cases, where there are risks, the book presents approaches for reducing these risks. User models are a way to share knowledge about users across the design process.

I also include a few extensions of this model based on teaching it. These extensions are related to learning: by the field through using this approach to organize methods, by the system development managers learning that there are sometimes risks related to human using their systems, and by designers as lessons from one design are applied to later designs. These extensions suggest the importance of shared representations for educating team members and for the system development process.

(The whole of the book is available on-line at

Inferring Congruence Equations with SAT

2009-08-05 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Honey 103 GFB

Solving systems of propositional constraints (SAT-solving) is now so efficient that it has become fashionable to reformulate program analysis problems as SAT solving problems. Usually this is done for speed, but when it comes to program analysis there is a continuum between the speed of an analysis and how precise it actually is. This talk will show how SAT solving can be applied to improve the *precision* of analyses that infer congruence equations, where an equation is a linear equality between variables modulo some base which is a power of two. This last sentence does not contain a typo: we truly really mean improve precision rather than speed. This bizarre result will be illustrated with an example that demonstrates how this new approach to analysis can infer invariants down to the granularity of the individual bits of program variables.

Dr Andy King is a Reader in Program Analysis at the University of Kent and also works at Portcullis Security on secondment as a Royal Society Industrial Fellow.

Face ageing on the BBC's The One Show

2009-08-18 at 10:40

Bernie Tiddeman's face transformer was used to create a bus pass photo for the comedian Justin Lee Collins. Watch it here on BBC iPlayer (about 20 minutes in) while it is still available there (about a week after broadcast).

Area Chair for major AI Conference

2009-08-19 at 12:49

Ian Gent has been named Area Chair for Constraints, Satisfiability and Search, for the major Artificial Intelligence Conference AAAI 2010.
AAAI 2010 (The Twenty-Fourth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence) will be held July 11–15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Alex Voss joins School

2009-08-19 at 12:55

Alex Voss has joined the School as a SICSA Advanced Research Fellow. He will be working on accountability in distributed systems and on how distributed systems work across organisational boundaries. Alex joins us from the National Centre for e-Social Science at the University of Manchester, where he has been working on how researchers use advanced information technologies such as grids, web 2.0, and clouds.

St Andrews researcher wins award

2009-08-21 at 20:37

Dr Chris Jefferson, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews, has won an award for his PhD work. The award is the Doctoral Research Award from the Association for Constraint Programming. The ACP Doctoral Research Award is awarded every year to a promising young researcher working in the area of constraint programming and who defended his/her thesis between January and December of the previous two years. It is awarded after a worldwide competition. The award recognises Chris's PhD work, undertaken at York University under Alan Frisch. Chris recently joined this department as a postdoctoral researcher working with Prof Steve Linton and others.

Advances in Programming Languages: Concurrency, Distribution, and Multicore

2009-08-24 at 23:00 to 2009-08-29 at 16:00 in Heriot-Watt University

This five-day residential International Summer School on Advances in Programming Languages has the unifying theme of Concurrency, Distribution, and Multicore. Intended primarily for postgraduate research students, the School offers lectures and practical sessions on an engaging blend of cutting edge on theoretical and practical techniques from international experts.

Kevin Hammond is on the steering committee. The school is sponsored by SICSA.

Barbara Smith visiting Constraints Research Group

2009-08-25 at 08:57

Prof Barbara Smith from the University of Leeds is visiting the Constraints Research Group from Aug 25 to Aug 27, 2009.

Alan Frisch visiting Constraints Research Group

2009-08-27 at 19:55

Alan Frisch from the University of York is visiting St Andrews from Tuesday 1st September until Friday 4th.

ICFP 2009

2009-08-30 at 23:00 in Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh

The premier functional programming conference, the 2009 ACM International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP 2009) will be held at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh from August 31st-September 2nd. Kevin Hammond is on the local arrangements committee with Phil Wadler (Edinburgh) and Greg Michaelson (Heriot-Watt), and various other members of the functional programming group will be helping out. In addition to the main conference, there will be 5-6 satellite workshops, and a SICSA-sponsored summer school on programming languages. Papers are due by March 2nd (strict deadline!).

The Proper Treatment of Undefinedness in Constraint Languages

2009-09-01 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33b

Implementations of constraint languages handle undefined expressions in an unsystematic and sometimes inconsistent manner. This work addresses for the first time the systematic treatment of undefined expressions in constraint languages. The talk first presents three alternative semantics for a simple constraint language that has undefined expressions. On constraint models that contain no undefined expressions the three semantics agree with each other and, we believe, with the intuitions of constraint language users. Then, for each of the semantics, the paper shows how models that contain undefined expressions can be translated to models that don't, while preserving satisfiability. As undefinedness does not arise in these resulting models, they can be implemented correctly by existing constraint solvers, regardless of how they handle undefinedness.
This is joint work with Peter Stuckey of the University of Melbourne.

IEEE Travel Grant for PhD student Devan Rehunathan

2009-09-03 at 12:39

Devan Rehunathan, a PhD student in the School, has been awarded a USD1500 Travel Grant to attend the 28th IEEE Military Communications Conference in Boston, USA . The award is made by the conference organisers. Devan's paper entitled, "Enabling Mobile Networks Through Secure Naming", investigates the qualitative aspects of some of the issues related to the provision of mobile networks. Mobile networks are, effectively, complete network 'sites' that are mobile, changing their point of attachment to the Internet, while maintaining ongoing communication sessions across heterogeneous connectivity, e.g. multiple radio links. This is a challenge, and especially if it is to be done securely. While the work is presented in the context of a military network scenario, where security is of paramount importance, the work would also be applicable to commercial and domestic situations, e.g. vehicular networks and emergency response teams.

STSE 2009

2009-09-16 at 23:00 in St Andrews

The second Socio-Technical Systems Engineering (STSE) conference will be held at the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews in September.

Welcome to New and Returning Students

2009-09-21 at 15:24

With teaching starting on 28 September, the School of Computer Science extends a warm welcome to our new students and equally to those returning for further study.

Involvement with 3rd International Conference on Trusted Computing (Trust 2010)

2009-09-22 at 09:25

Tristan Henderson has been appointed to the Technical Programme Committee of the 3rd International Conference on Trusted Computing (Trust 2010).

Research Cloud System running in St Andrews

2009-09-22 at 10:27

One of the first (maybe the first) private cloud systems in UK universities is now up and running in the School. Based on open-source Eucalyptus software, which is compatible with the Amazon system, the cloud will allow researchers to experiment with cloud applications and provide an elastic compute capability of up to 64 virtual machines.
The benefits of using a private cloud rather than Amazon are that integration with other school systems, such as the Active Directory system, is simplified and you can carry out experiments at the infrastructure level (i.e. you can break things!).

Initially, the intention is to investigate the long term stability of the Eucalyptus implementation and we will be running a research information server and an eprints server in the cloud.

Outstanding Results in National Student Survey

2009-09-29 at 11:47

We are delighted to report our outstanding results for student satisfaction in the recent National Student Survey. Amongst mainstream universities, St Andrews ranked first in responses to the statement "Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course", scoring 92% agreement.

The School of Computer Science achieved an even higher satisfaction rating, with 93%, and was ranked 5 in the country amongst Computer Science departments. If this seems paradoxical, the resolution is that Computer Science is obviously a highly satisfactory degree to undertake, at St Andrews and at other highly ranked departments.

For some statements, Computer Science at St Andrews was ranked 1 in the UK, for example the statement "I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies" and of course we were high in many categories. For example, we were ranked 2 for "As a result of this course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems."

As well as general comments, some students made detailed comments, for example:

  • "High standards, enthusiastic support and stimulating subject matter."
  • "Excellent computing facilities, with well educated staff keeps learning stimulating."
  • "Staff incredibly helpful and willing to give up a lot of time."
  • "The teaching staff teach to a high quality and we are provided with top of the line equipment with which to do work."
  • "The town is beautiful, and the staff are very friendly and helpful."
Perhaps the most negative set of comments were on high workload. Each year we try to take account of comments like this in planning our teaching, and at least we are delighted that our students felt highly satisfied with the result of studying hard with us.

Note: two non-mainstream Universities did rank above St Andrews: these were the Open (non residential) and Buckingham (non publicly funded).

GPCE 2009

2009-10-04 at 09:00 to 2009-10-05 at 18:00

GPCE 2009

Kevin Hammond is on the programme committee for GPCE 2009, ACM's International Conference on Generative Programming and Component Engineering (GPCE'09),
October 4th-5th 2009, Denver, Colorado. Papers are due by May 18th 2009 (abstract submission one week earlier).

Musings on a Theory and a Philosophy of Informatics

2009-10-06 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Purdie Theatre B

This talk is for the academic who is interested in theory and in philosophy of science. The talk proposes some features of a theory and a philosophy of informatics. We approach some such features by first outlining, in "lay" terms concepts of computer and computing science, of a triptych of domains, requirements and software, and how one progress from domains via requirements to software. We briefly illustrate that domains and requirements can be described, respectively prescribed both "informally", that is, using natural (cum national) language and formally, in mathematics. Then we discuss the problem of description in the context of Bertrand Russell's Philosophy of Logical Atomism, and the problem of describing parts and wholes in the context of Stanislaw Leshniewsky's Mereology.

Scheduled power outage

2009-10-07 at 11:00 to 15:00 in Cole Bldg, Honey Bldg

There will be a scheduled power outage affecting the North Haugh, including both Jack Cole and John Honey buildings. (There is another power outage scheduled for October 10th.) The timetable is as follows:

Date & TimeEventNotes
2009-10-07T12:00ITS system shutdown beginsCS should not be dependent on ITS services, so this should not affect the school much. (You should be able to see the effect using traceroute as all our traffic is routed via the Old Union Exchange.)
2009-10-07T13:00CS system shutdown beginsAll systems are shut down, in order. See below for what you need to do.
2009-10-07T14:00Power offTelephones and building access control systems should continue to work on battery backup.
2009-10-07T15:00Power on
2009-10-07T15:00CS system startup beginsAll systems are started up, in order. See below for what you need to do.
2009-10-07T16:00CS system startup completeNormal service resumes.
System shutdown
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate students - No action required.
  • Research students and staff - Shut down desktop systems beginning at 13:00.
  • System administrators - You are advised to shut down all servers for which you are responsible, beginning at 13:00.
System startup
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate students - No action required.
  • Research students and staff - You may start up your desktop systems beginning at 14:00, but they may not be fully functional until 15:00. If you experience problems, please wait until 15:00 and restart to see if problem clears before calling fixit.
  • System administrators - You are advised to start up all servers for which you are responsible, beginning at 14:00 (but see note for research students and staff).

Scheduled power outage

2009-10-09 at 16:00 to 2009-10-10 at 17:00 in Cole Bldg, Honey Bldg

There will be a scheduled power outage affecting the North Haugh, including both Jack Cole and John Honey buildings. (There is another power outage scheduled for October 7th.) The timetable is as follows:

Date & TimeEventNotes
2009-10-09T17:00CS system shutdown beginsAll systems are shut down, in order. See below for what you need to do.
2009-10-09T18:00Buildings lockedBoth buildings are empty and locked.
2009-10-10T09:00Power off
2009-10-10T17:00Power on
2009-10-10T17:00CS system startup beginsAll systems are started up, in order. See below for what you need to do.
2009-10-10T18:00CS system startup completeNormal service resumes.
2009-10-10T18:00Buildings openedBuildings will be opened after normal service resumes.
System shutdown
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate students - No action required.
  • Research students and staff - Shut down desktop systems beginning at 2009-10-09T17:00.
  • System administrators - You are advised to shut down all servers for which you are responsible, beginning at 2009-10-09T17:00.
System startup
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate students - No action required.
  • Research students and staff - You may start up your desktop systems when the power is back, but they may not be fully functional until normal service is resumed. If you experience problems, please wait and restart to see if problem clears before calling fixit.
  • System administrators - You are advised to start up all servers for which you are responsible, beginning at 2009-10-10T17:00 (but see note for research students and staff).

Aspects of Adaptivity and Learning in Cognitive Architectures

2009-10-13 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

Adaptivity and learning seem to be core abilities of human intelligent behavior that occur on many different levels of granularity in human cognition. Besides classical forms of learning, adaptive behavior can also be found in simple perceptual recognition tasks, context changes, interpretations of natural language expressions etc. A natural idea is to model adaptivity and learning aspects in cognitive architectures. During the last decades researchers proposed a large diversity of such architectures that are (most often) intended to model intelligence on a human scale. In this talk, I will present certain computational approaches for modeling adaptivity and non-classical forms of learning by sketching frameworks for analogical reasoning, the rewriting of background knowledge, and neural-symbolic integration. I will furthermore discuss the possibility to integrate such frameworks into a cognitive architecture.

TLAC Open Forum

2009-10-14 at 11:00 to 13:00 in Parliament Hall

The University, through the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Careers
Centre, has partnered the Universities of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian in a
project that has explored how to successfully introduce work-related learning to nonvocational
subjects and hence to a wider range of their students.
This forum will give an overview of the whole project, including research findings,
will report on the St Andrews project in more detail, and will outline the workrelated
learning activities already in place around the University, including various
work experience initiatives.
The session will conclude with an opportunity to contribute, challenge and offer
other insights about what work related learning activities do offer, or could in the
future, of most value to St Andrews students in these challenging economic times.
If you would like to attend, please inform Vanessa Hughes as soon as possible for
catering considerations.

University Visiting Day

2009-10-14 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

St Andrews graduate wins Software Engineering Award

2009-10-14 at 16:28

At the recent Young Software Engineer Awards held by ScotlandIS, Paul won the Real Time award for the project that best demonstrates excellent software engineering skills. These awards are competed for annually by students from all Scottish Universities.

The image shows the Principal of St Andrews, Louise Richardson, using Craig's system.

Craig describes his project as follows:

    Project description:

    "The "NaviSim Dinghy Sailing Simulator" is a unique simulator for single-handed small sailboats, aimed as a training aid for beginner sailors. The simulator provides a sandbox world with customisable variables, allowing the user to learn and practice in various scenarios and conditions.

    The simulator was created in three separate main components using the classic model view controller architectural pattern. This provided an abstract, structured framework, in turn allowing rapid development and new modules to be added independently to the software whilst maintaining code integrity.

    A hardware controller, developed in conjunction with the school technicians, provides a realistic control mechanism; Using a rope to adjust the sail, and a "tiller" to steer the boat. The controller component also manages the simulator’s time and provides a keyboard controller for online use. A controller window is attached to alter the world environment variables such as wind and tide.

    The model constructs both the world's environment and the boat's individual physics model. This in turn allows the world to generate new weather patterns, and the boat to react accordingly to these changes depending on current settings of the boat (such as sail, rudder, or centre board positioning). The boats physics model is designed to replicate sailing as realistically as possible, this includes acceleration, turning speed of the boat (relative to actual boat speed), tidal drift, boat drift depending on centerboard settings, and apparent wind on the boat. A separate sail physics model also calculates the power generated by the boat based on the sail setting and apparent wind.

    Feedback to the user is through several visual displays: a 2D birds eye view to provide an overview of the sailing world; a dashboard view to show boat/sail settings, world variables and also information about boat speed/heading; the 3D view provides a realistic display of a boat sailing, with useful feedback through wind and tide arrows, and an adjusting sail colour to indicate the current power generated by the sail (where green is optimum and red generates no power).

    Finally to ensure accessibility to the software, a website was created to provide multi-platform deployment through the Java Web Start framework, allowing any computer with Java 5 or better installed to run the software.

Handle with Care: Naming, Layering and Caching Broken on the Internet

2009-10-20 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

The use of proper naming, the importance of layered approaches to
complex architecture, and the use of caching for scalability are
all things that are taught to Computer Science undergraduates. One
might expect such things to be used widely to make the Internet
operate efficiently and to sustain its growth for the future. To
provoke discussion and comment, I will take the position that the use
of naming, layering and caching on the Internet today is broken: the
current architecture will not scale and is not sustainable. However,
opportunities exist to move the current state of play to one that is,
perhaps, a little less broken.

University Visiting Day

2009-10-21 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Professor Simon Dobson joins the School.

2009-10-21 at 14:38

Simon Dobson came to St Andrews in October 2009. Simon grew up in Cheshire before taking a BSc and DPhil in computer science from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the University of York respectively. After five years at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, he has spent the last twelve years in Ireland working at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. He also spent two years as the co-founder and CEO of a start-up company.

Simon's current research focuses on sensor networks and environmental sensing. These systems are notoriously hard to develop and analyse since they have to adapt to changes in their environment while continuing to deliver data and services reliably. Simon's work involves building formal mathematical models of adaptive sensor systems, and developing new ways of programming them to improve our ability to do sophisticated long-term experiments.

Staff quiz night

2009-10-27 at 11:09

Under the name "10 Kinds of People," the Computer Science quiz team took second prize at last night's Staff Quiz. About 12 teams competed, mostly with 4 to 6 members. The Computer Science team comprised Paula Whiscombe, Ishbel Duncan, Ed Brady and Norman Paterson. Unfortunately Paula was unwell and could not attend. Fortunately Ishbel's sister Alison who was visiting from Washington DC was able to take her place. Unfortunately most of the questions were very culture specific. About half way through, Ishbel and Alison had to leave for a prior engagement (do you need a calendaring system, Ish?) dropping the team to just two -- making the final placement all the more spectacular.

There was only one Computer Science question: what two versions of Windows came out in the year 2000? And we got it wrong. Well, it's not real Computer Science.

Second prize consisted of two boxes of chocolates, which will be available at the coffee area for all to enjoy. All thanks to Ishbel for goading the school to take part.

Amadeus Presentation for Computer Scientists

2009-10-27 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Cole 1.33a

The leading provider of IT solutions to the tourism and travel industry.
Today’s travel industry is seeing rapid growth, high customer
expectations, fierce competition and pressure on margins. This is a
market driven by new technologies, new entrants and new business models.

In this challenging world, Amadeus is not only the leading Global
Distribution System (GDS) and the biggest processor of travel bookings
in the world, but a leader in delivering a wider range of superior
technology to help tackle the issues their clients face. As a
world-class and trusted technology partner, Amadeus provides industry
leading IT solutions, acknowledged expertise and exceptional customer
service. Whatever tomorrow brings, you can rely on Amadeus to provide a
clear vision and direction for the future of the global travel and
tourism industry.

Why choose Amadeus? We are looking for top talent. The opportunities and
cultural diversity that you can find at Amadeus are second to none. Our
mindset is truly global. We thrive by sharing information across borders
and across businesses in working environments that foster open, fluid
communication. Join us to invent new products, conquer new markets, and
follow your vision. Amadeus is seeking leaders of tomorrow. We recruit
men and women who will prove they can move rapidly toward greater
responsibilities, with a view to embarking on a long-term career.

Amadeus offers its employees a comprehensive range of learning and
professional skills development opportunities closely aligned with
business needs and strategy. The Working Environment: Some companies say
they are multicultural - we actually are. We employ people of more than
25 different nationalities at each of our main sites in Europe. We
encourage and actively seek out diversity and value the strength it brings.

Ethics talk

2009-10-27 at 15:30 to 16:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

The Chair of UTREC would like to welcome staff, postgraduate and
senior honours students to a talk to discuss the issue of ethical
approval. For those of you unfamiliar with UTREC, the University
TEaching and Research Ethics Committee, which was set up by the
Principal's Office and comes under the Vice Principal of Research,
further information is available from our webpage

The talk will be in Room 0.35 in the Jack Cole Building at 3.30pm on
Tuesday 27 October.

Among topics the UTREC Chair will cover:

1. Definition of Research
2. Why an Ethical review of research is required
3. Ethical Review process - its guiding principles including (a)
Participant Information Sheets, (b) Informed consent including
child consent, (c) Data Retention and Storage, (d) Data
protection, (e) Debriefing
4. Good conduct in Research, honesty and integrity - including (a)
protecting research subjects, respondents and participants, (b)
5. UTREC - its make-up, remit and role
6. School Ethics Committees (SECs) - their make-up, remit and role
7. Database
8. Ethical Research Application form
9. Funding Review process, including Funding Approval Application Form
10. Risk, from an ethical perspective
11. Legal Obligations, including Freedom of Information
12. Misconduct, including (a) accountability of researchers that do
not have ethical approval, (b) whistle-blowing
13. Website

University Visiting Day

2009-10-28 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Interactive Paper: The Link between Paper and Information Systems

2009-11-02 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

Emerging technologies for interactive paper make it possible to capture and access information from paper in a variety of interesting ways. Over the past eight years, my research group at ETH Zurich has developed a rich infrastructure for the prototyping and production of interactive paper documents and paper-based interfaces to applications. I will provide a review of this work, starting with a motivation for reforming rather than replacing paper and then going on to describe various ways in which paper can be linked to information systems to support both the capture of and access to information. This will include an introduction to commercial digital pen and paper technologies that can be used to capture user actions on paper as well as our own iPaper framework and associated publishing tools.

Foundational and Practical Aspects of Resource Analysis

2009-11-03 in Eindhoven


Eindhoven, The Netherlands, November 3, 2009

A satellite event of 16th International Symposium on Formal Methods


The workshop serves as a forum for presenting original research results that are relevant to the analysis of resource (time, space) consumption by computer programs. The workshop aims to bring together the researchers that work on foundational issues with the researchers that focus more on practical results. Therefore, both theoretical and practical contributions are encouraged. The following list of topics is non-exhaustive:
  • resource analysis for embedded systems,
  • logical and machine-independent characterisations of complexity classes,
  • logics closely related to complexity classes,
  • * type systems for controlling complexity,
  • semantic methods to analyse resources, incl. quasi- and sup- interpretations,
  • practical applications of resource analysis.


  • Abstract deadline: July 10,
  • Paper submission deadline: July 15,
  • Notification of acceptance: September 11,
  • Workshop version of the papers: October 11,
  • Final formal paper submission: November 22.


Sumit Gulwani (, Microsoft Research


Acceptance of articles for presentation at the symposium is based on the pre-workshop refereeing of full papers (16 pages). In addition to the draft symposium proceedings, we plan to publish the revised versions of presented at the workshop papers in a volume of Springer's Lecture Notes in Computer Science. The request for a volume is pending.


  • Marko van Eekelen (Radboud University and Open University, NL), PC chair
  • Olha Shkaravska (Radboud University, NL), PC co-chair
  • Patrick Baillot (ENS-Lyon, France)
  • Armelle Bonenfant (IRIT, France)
  • Ugo Dal Lago (University of Bologna, Italy)
  • Kevin Hammond (Univ. of St. Andrews, UK)
  • Martin Hofmann (LMU, Munich, Germany)
  • Thomas Jensen (IRISA, Rennes, France)
  • Tamas Kozsik (Eotvos Lorand University of Budapest, Hungary)
  • Hans-Wolfgang Loidl (LMU, Munich, Germany)
  • Kenneth MacKenzie (University of Edinburgh, UK)
  • Jean-Yves Marion (Loria, Nancy, France)
  • Greg Michaelson (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
  • Ricardo Peña (University Complutense Madrid, Spain)
  • German Puebla (Politechnical University of Madrid, Spain)
  • Luca Roversi (University of Turin, Italy)
  • Phil Trinder (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)

Correct-by-construction Distributed Protocols in the Logic of Events

2009-11-03 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

Experience shows that it is intellectually difficult to specify, design, implement, and safely modify small distributed protocols, even harder than the same tasks for many larger sequential programs. The attempt in the 1990's to build a state-of-the art air traffic control system in the US failed in part because of the difficulty of the these tasks even in the hands of some of the best software companies. Today, efforts to build secure Internet services and distributed data centers for cloud computing depend critically on performing exactly such tasks.

At Cornell we have demonstrated that it is possible to design, implement, and modify distributed protocols that are formally known to perform as required by deriving them automatically from proofs of their properties in a natural very high level Logic of Events. This work is evidence that the Logic of Events captures many fundamental concepts in networked computing.

The lecture will introduce the Logic of Events and illustrate its use by sketching the development of a correct-by-construction consensus protocol, specifically Paxos. The work is part of our ten year collaboration with the systems group at Cornell. The Logic of Events arose by formalizing the concepts and methods used by system designers, and capturing them in a constructive formal logic that can treat proofs as processes. This event logic has many other applications as well because it can naturally express concepts from the physical and life sciences.

Dr Mirco Musolesi joins the School

2009-11-03 at 17:17

Dr. Mirco Musolesi received a PhD in Computer Science from University College London in 2007 and a Master in Electronic Engineering from the University of Bologna in 2002. From October 2005 to August 2007 he was a Research Fellow at the Department of Computer Science, University College London. Then, from September 2007 to August 2008 he was an ISTS Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Dartmouth College and from September 2008 to October 2009 a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in the broad area of mobile systems and networking with a current focus on online social networks, application of complex network theory to networked systems design, mobility modelling, sensing systems based on mobile phones and delay tolerant networking. He has been involved in several ACM and IEEE events in the past years as Program Chair and Program Committee Member. He is also a reviewer for leading computer science journals including many ACM and IEEE Transactions. More information about his research profile can be found at his web page.

Professor Kevin Hammond receives ACM Award

2009-11-05 at 07:47

The Senior Member Grade recognizes those ACM members with at least 10 years of professional experience and 5 years of continuous Professional Membership who have demonstrated performance that sets them apart from their peers.

Cryptography Lectures in St Andrews

2009-11-17 at 11:08

This semester's distinguished lectures will be given by Professors Fred Piper and Peter Wild from Royal Holloway University London, under the title "Cryptography: From Black Art to Popular Science".

Philological resources and interlinear text

2009-11-17 at 15:00 to 16:00 in Maths Theatre A

A linear annotation of a text is called a tier. Several tiers may be available for a given text. In an interlinear format, parts of the tiers are grouped together per phrase or per sentence.

Traditionally, interlinear text was created manually, or automatically from language resources created by one scholar or one team of scholars working closely together. I will discuss a very different setting where resources are created by different scholars independently, and then rendered together in one text window.
The interlinear text is obtained by solving various constraints on the alignment of respective tiers. These constraints can be manually specified or may result from automatic analysis.

Cryptography: From Black Art to Popular Science

2009-11-18 at 12:00 to 2009-11-19 at 11:00 in Purdie Theatre B


The last few decades have seen cryptography 'transform' from a black art, practised mainly by governments , the military and a few financial organisations, to a popular science that is widely taught as an academic subject and features in a number of popular novels and films. At the same time, cryptographic services have become much more widely used and are now a central feature of many e-commerce and other business applications. In this talk we will look at how technological advances have influenced cryptography and how the concept of public key cryptography has dramatically increased the range of cryptographic services that are available.


Prof Fred Piper BSc PhD (London) CEng CMath FIEE ARCS DIC FIMA was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University of London in 1975 and has worked in information security since 1979. In 1985, he formed a company, Codes & Ciphers Ltd, which offers consultancy advice in all aspects of information security. He has acted as a consultant to over 80 companies including a number of financial institutions and major industrial companies in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and the USA. The consultancy work has been varied and has included algorithm design and analysis, work on EFTPOS and ATM networks, data systems, security audits, risk analysis and the formulation of security policies. He has lectured worldwide on information security, both academically and commercially, has published more than 100 papers and is joint author of Cipher Systems (1982), one of the first books to be published on the subject of protection of communications, Secure Speech Communications (1985), Digital Signatures - Security & Controls (1999) and Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction (2002).

Fred has been a member of a number of DTI advisory groups. He has also served on a number of Foresight Crime Prevention Panels and task forces concerned with fraud control, security and privacy. He is currently a member of the Scientific Council of the Smith Institute, the Board of Trustees for Bletchley Park and the Board of the Institute of Information Security professionals. He is also a member of (ISC) 2’s European Advisory Board, the steering group of the DTI’s Cyber Security KTN, ISSA’s advisory panel and the BCS’s Information Security Forum.

In 2002, he was awarded an IMA Gold Medal for “services to mathematics” and received an honorary CISSP for “leadership in Information Security”. In 2003, Fred received an honorary CISM for “globally recognised leadership” and “contribution to the Information Security Profession”.

Prof Peter Wild BSc (Adelaide) PhD (London) received his B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Pure Mathematics in 1976 from the University of Adelaide, and the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics in 1980 from the University of London. He has worked at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; the University of Adelaide; and with the CSIRO, Australia. In 1984 he joined Royal Holloway where he is currently employed as a Professor in Mathematics. His research interests are in combinatorics, design theory, cryptography and coding theory. He has acted as a data security consultant for a number of companies offering advice in algorithm analysis, key management and user identification protocols.

University Visiting Day

2009-11-18 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Children in Need - Arts and Crafts Fair Tomorrow

2009-11-20 at 10:00 to 15:00 in Gateway Building

To raise money for the BBC's Children in Need appeal, staff from the University's Residential and Business Services Unit have got together to organise and stage a major Arts and Crafts Fair in the Reception area of Gateway Building, North Haugh, St Andrews on Friday 20 November from 10am to 3pm.

Doctoral Symposium

2009-11-22 at 09:00 to 2009-11-25 at 14:00 in Cambridge

MUM (International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia) is a distinguished forum for advances in research and technologies that drive innovation in mobile and multimedia systems, applications, and services. At MUM academics and practitioners gather to discuss challenges and achievements from diverse perspectives, in a comfortable and effective single track conference format.

Gentzen Centenary Symposium

2009-11-24 at 11:00 to 19:00 in Edgecliffe, The Scores (11:00--13:00 and 17:00--19:00); Jack Cole Building (13:00--17:00)

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Gerhard Gentzen, the founder of proof theory, a Gentzen Centenary Symposium will be held on Tuesday 24 November 2009 in St Andrews (Scotland). The aim is to cover some (but not all) topics relating to his and his work's contributions to and influence on logic, mathematics and computer science.

Thales Prize


Dr Fehmi Ben Abdesslem and Dr Tristan Henderson's work on "SenseLess", an energy-efficient framework for mobile sensing applications, has been chosen as a finalist in the 2009 Thales Scottish Technology Prize for Data & Image Processing.
They will receive an award and find out if they have won the overall prize at a prize-giving ceremony on 10th December 2009.

To Follow

2009-12-17 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Cole 0.35 MSc Lab

To Follow

CS Graduate's Google Product

2009-12-18 at 09:53

Andrew McCarthy, who graduated from us in 2004, has been working for Google and has blogged about his product Place Pages. This is a great example of the kind of exciting career which a degree from our department can equip you for!

Tristan Henderson co-chair of international workshops.

2009-12-18 at 09:59

Tristan Henderson is Programme Co-Chair of the 6th International Workshop on Wireless Network Measurements (WiNMee 2010), Avignon, France, May 31, 2010. He is also Programme Co-Chair of the 2nd ACM International Workshop on Hot Topics in Planet-Scale Measurement (HotPlanet 2010), San Francisco, CA, USA, June 15, 2010

St Andrews lecturer involved in many international meetings.

2010-01-11 at 11:07

Over recent months, Mirco has been invited to join the programme committees of:

  • IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC 2010)
  • IEEE 8th International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom 2010) - Work in Progress Session
  • 21st Annual IEEE International Symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC 2010)
  • 3rd International Workshop on Sensor Networks at IEEE ICDCS'10
  • 21th International Conference on Databases and Expert Systems Applications (DEXA 2010)

Chair and Lectureship positions available

2010-01-25 at 14:53

The School is seeking applications for a chair in human-computer interaction and lectureships in computer science.

These posts are funded by SICSA.

Computer Science research on women's fertility.

2010-01-27 at 07:49

Tom Kelsey has published a joint paper with Hamish Wallace, of the University of Edinburgh, called "Human Ovarian Reserve from Conception to the Menopause". This models how the number of eggs in a woman's ovaries varies over her lifetime, and therefore obviously impacts highly on understanding of issues such as infertility. The paper is available in full online. It has been covered in mainstream news outlets including the Telegraph, the Mail, and the Sun.

Funding for non-EU PhD students

2010-01-28 at 22:22

There is an opportunity for outstanding PhD students to apply for funding from the University of St Andrews. The deadline for applications is February 19th 2010 so you should move quickly if you wish to apply for this excellent opportunity.

Research recognition for Tristan Henderson

2010-01-28 at 22:31

Tristan Henderson is Guest Editor for a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Advanced Media and Communication, and is on the Technical Programme Committee for ACM Multimedia 2010 the premier multimedia research conference.

Software Productivity Assessment

2010-02-02 at 14:30 to 15:30 in JCB 133a/b

Following a quick tour of the Center for Software Engineering at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, I'll review our work in support of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) HPCS initiative. As part of this program, IBM is creating a new, commercially viable, peta scale super computer. The fact that we are crossing the barrier to sustained petaflop performance is interesting. Even more interesting is the fact that the P in HPCS stands for Productivity. This reflects DARPA's realization that a major barrier to further advances in parallel and scientific computing is the ability of humans to write, debug, tune, deploy, and administer software at this scale. I'll discuss how we are assessing improvements in human productivity attributable to new parallel programming languages and new tools and environments. I'll conclude with a few thoughts on how productivity assessment can be woven into the more general practice of software engineering.

MSc Project results in enhancements to Open Source Software tool, "Wireshark"

2010-02-09 at 11:07

As part of his MSc project for 2008/09, Yi Yu developed code that is now to be included in the next public release of Wireshark. Wireshark is an extremely popular Open Source Software tool used for network monitoring and protocol analysis. Yi's project enhanced the tool by providing support for a widely used industry monitoring capability, sFlow v5. The project was conducted as part of Yi's work on the School's MSc programme, in collaboration with InMon, the inventors of sFlow, and was supervised by Saleem Bhatti. Yi is now studying for a PhD at the School.

Saturday Visiting Day

2010-02-13 at 11:00 to 21:00 in St Andrews

Our Saturday Visiting Days comprise a full programme to show you what studying Computer Science here is all about. You will hear talks from lecturers, professors and current students. You will try out some computer science exercises in one of our lecture theatres with the chance to win some prizes. You will see demonstrations of research projects from undergraduates and postgraduate researchers. You will also be fed!

The New Medium of Digital Light

2010-02-16 at 15:00 to 16:00 in JCB 133a/b

The 1980s saw the impact of commercial digital print on the newspaper industry, the 1990s saw end-user DTP transform documents in offices and homes, and in the 'nought'-ies digital photography made is a nation of camera junkies.

A similar revolution is happening in 2010 to light.FireFly, a new technology developed at Lancaster, is part of this new transformation to digital light. FireFly puts a microprocessor behind individual LEDs so that they become tiny single-pixel networked computers. Combining this with camera-based location allows massive numbers of tiny lights to be treated as a single coherent display.

As well as posing interesting technical challenges, this technology demands different ways of thinking about displays. Instead of controlled rectilinear layouts, we have ad hoc arrangements where everything from lighted Christmas trees to office windows become potential display surfaces. With the potential also for three-dimensional emissive displays, we are entering a new age of digital light.

single page overview of FireFly (new website is being prepared!):

University Visiting Day

2010-02-17 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

TeachFirst Presentation

2010-02-23 at 15:00 to 16:00

TeachFirst Presentation
Jo Fordham, the Graduate Recruitment Officer, will be in the School tomorrow to give a presentation.

IFIP-Working Group 2.11 "Program Generation" Meeting

2010-03-01 at 09:00 to 2010-03-03 at 19:30

Program generation has the potential to revolutionise software development in the same way that automation and components revolutionised manufacturing. Current research in this area targets a host of technical problems both at the foundational and engineering levels. The aim of this IFIP Working Group of researchers and practitioners is to promote progress in this area.

The meeting is not public. If you are strongly interested in this topic (e.g. as a Ph.D. student or researcher), please contact the local organisers.

Distributed Mediation

2010-03-02 at 15:00 to 16:00 in Jack Cole 1.33ab

I will describe a class of information systems termed “mediated information flow system”. In these systems clients interact with a conceptually centralized service. Mediated information flow systems may occur in a number of scenarios, for example:

• a mediated news or publishing service where a central authority acts as an editorial control, before information is further disseminated;
• a conversation service which allows a recent context to be presented to a user joining an ongoing conversation, and
• a transactional trading service where a central authority acts to match the requirements of buyers and sellers.

These systems demand a logical implementation whereby all messages flow through a central network point, where the mediation service resides. This model however does not scale smoothly when the information flow starts to challenge the bandwidth availability of a single logical node. Our solution is for a hybrid message oriented middleware system, which both captures the efficient network use of peer-to-peer messaging systems, yet still allows the layering of a mediation service. Furthermore, the service is capable of adapting to the varying demands places upon it.

Alan Dearle will describe this problem domain and some of the technology that has been developed over the last 5 years. Alistair Hodge will present a demonstration of an implementation of the technology.

Alan Turing and the Origin of Computer Science

2010-03-15 at 14:00 to 15:30 in Lecture Theater C Maths

The British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) was central to the emergence of the electronic digital computer in 1945. His own 1936 concept of the universal machine was fundamental to it, and he laid out his own detailed electronic design in 1945-46. His software plans went well beyond those of his contemporaries, and his concept of 'intelligent machinery' has become a classic reference point in the philosophy of mind. He was particularly unusual as a mathematician for his wide scope both in theory and practice. This very unconventionality gave him a vital role in the secret Anglo-American cryptanalytic war. It also gave him a kind of life - and death - which only after fifty years can be more properly appreciated.

Andrew Hodges is a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford University and a member of the faculty of Mathematics at Oxford. His main research is in fundamental physics, but he wrote the first full biography of Alan Turing in 1983 and has continued to write extensively on the significance of Alan Turing's life and work.

Adaptive Radio, A Test and Measurement Perspective

2010-03-16 at 15:00 to 16:00 in JCB 133a/b

As we head towards the development and deployment of 4G mobile technologies using adaptive radio techniques new challenges for test and measurement have arisen that need new approaches to the detection and inference of anomalies. Due to the very nature of adaptive radio, an RF engineer developing such a system requires more intelligent test and measurement tools that will help him test, measure and validate the behaviour of the adaptive radio.

In this talk we will introduce the audience into the basic principles of adaptive radio and why such radios are converging onto the most spectrally efficient multiplexing techniques at the physical layer, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) as well as give a very brief introduction into 4G radios that are using these techniques, such as Mobile WiMAX and LTE. This will be followed by an overview into the development life cycle of a wireless technology and Agilent's role in Test and Measurement. Finally, we will discuss our current applied research in this space purely focused on adaptive radio.

Saturday Visiting Day

2010-03-20 at 11:00 to 21:00 in St Andrews

Our Saturday Visiting Days comprise a full programme to show you what studying Computer Science here is all about. You will hear talks from lecturers, professors and current students. You will try out some computer science exercises in one of our lecture theatres with the chance to win some prizes. You will see demonstrations of research projects from undergraduates and postgraduate researchers. You will also be fed!

AWS grant for Constraint Programming group

2010-03-24 at 11:02

Lars Kotthoff has been awarded an Amazon Web Services research grant to prototype a system based on the Minion constraint solver that will automatically split and distribute large constraint problems across several machines. The grant covers Amazon EC2 instances as well as S3 storage and is worth $3500. It will be used to count semigroups; research Tom Kelsey and Andreas Distler are working on.

University Visiting Day

2010-03-24 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Making Faces - a blend of hard and soft science

2010-04-01 at 13:30 to 14:30 in School of Psychology - Old Library seminar room St. Mary's Quad

This talk will explore approaches to the creation of facial composite images from eyewitness memory together with related issues in face processing.The speaker will describe the basis of the EFIT-V facial composite system and plans for its future development. He will also offer his experience of University research on facial modelling and analysis, its translation into day-to-day use by police forces and the necessary
compromises that this sometimes entails.

University Visiting Day

2010-04-14 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Nesting Transactions: Why and What Do We Need?

2010-04-15 at 09:00 to 11:00 in 1.33B Jack Cole Building

We are seeing many proposals supporting atomic transactions in programming languages, software libraries, and hardware, some with and some without support for nested transactions. I argue that (in the long run) it is
important to support nesting, and to go beyond closed nesting to open nesting. I will argue as to the general form open nesting should take and why,namely that it is a property of classes (data types) not code regions, and must include support for programmed concurrency control as well as programmed rollback. I will also touch on the implications for software or hardwaretransactional memory in order to support open nesting of this kind.

CANCELLED DUE TO DISRUPTION WITH FLIGHTS - Beyond the four-colour theorem: software engineering for mathematics

2010-04-16 at 11:00 to 13:00 in Room 1.33a, Jack Cole Building

While the use of proof assistants has been picking up in computer science, they have yet to become popular in traditional mathematics.Perhaps this is because their main function, checking proofs down to their finest details, is at odds with mathematical practice, which ignores or defers details in order to apply and combine abstractions in creative and elegant ways. This mismatch parallels that between software requirements and implementation. In this talk we will explore how software engineering techniques like component-based design can be transposed to formal logic and help bridge the gap between rigor and abstraction, and show how these techniques were instrumental in carrying out a fully formal proof of the famous four-colour theorem.

Microsoft Research
Microsoft Research-INRIA joint centre

University Visiting Day

2010-04-21 at 14:00 to 15:30

Prospective undergraduate students are welcome to visit us to see our splendid location and the quality of teaching and research that we offer.

Parallelism and the Exascale Challenge

2010-04-29 at 09:30 to 17:00 in Phys Theatre A

Lecture 1: Computer Simulation: Setting the Scene

Computer Simulation is now generally regarded as the third scientific
paradigm, complementing theory and experiment and of particular use when
the system is too complex for theoretical investigation and too large,
too small, too fast, too slow, or simply too expensive to experiment on.
Meeting the computational needs in many fields has already driven us
towards parallel computing approaches, but scientific needs are
continuing to outstrip our ability to deliver fast enough computers -
especially now that microprocessor clock frequencies have peaked. This
lecture will review the scientific drivers and the challenges we face in
achieving increasing performance.

Lecture 2: The Exascale Challenge

Today, the fastest computers in the world struggle to deliver
petaflops (10E15 flops) performance but there is already design work
underway to design an exaflops (10E18 flops) computer and the
applications to run on it. Achieving such an increase in performance
will require a quantum leap in computer technology and hence research
into a wide variety of computer science problems from fault-tolerance,
to power-aware system software, from new progamming paradigms to
validation methods. This lecture will consider the key challenges to be
faced over the next 5 - 10 years if we are to build a workable exascale

Lecture 3: The Exascale Solution(?)

Building a useable exascale computer will require us to face
some challenges on a scale which are unprecedented. In other cases,
problems, such as fault tolerance, which have been considered solved for
many years recur. In all cases, the solution must be accomplished within
extremely tight limits on bandwidths and power consumption. This
lecture will review recent studies into exascale computer design.

Sonification of cervical cells: Using sounds to improve medical diagnosis

2010-05-04 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Cole 133a/b Lab

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of the disease thanks to the fact that pre-cancerous changes can be detected in cervical cells. These cells are examined visually under microscopes, but the objective of this project was to ascertain whether their examination could be improved if the visual inspection were accompanied by an auditory representation. This project has addressed a number of questions implied by this idea, including:
• Which cell(s) to sonify.
• What features to sonify.
• What kinds of sounds to use.
In this seminar I will present some of the experiments carried out to address these questions, including samples.

EPSRC Grant for StACC

2010-05-23 at 13:43

The St Andrews Cloud Computing Co-Laboratory (StACC) has received its first external grant - £330, 000 from the EPSRC to support work on application modelling of cloud-based systems. The work is part of a larger project concerned with cloud computing for large-scale complex IT systems (

Schism: Fragmentation-Tolerant Real-Time Garbage Collection

2010-05-31 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Cole 1.33a Lab

Managed languages such as Java and C#are being considered for use in hard real-time systems. A hurdle to their widespread adoption is the lack of garbage collection algorithms that offer predictable space-and-time performance in the face of fragmen-tation. We introduce SCHISM/CMR, a new concurrent and real-time garbage collector that is fragmentation tolerant and guarantees time-and-space worst-case bounds while providing good through-put. SCHISM/CMR combines mark-region collection of fragmented objects and arrays (arraylets) with separate replication-copying collection of immutable arraylet spines, so as to cope with external fragmentation when running in small heaps. We present an implementation of SCHISM/CMR in the Fiji VM, a high-performance Java virtual machine for mission-critical systems, along with athorough experimental evaluation on a wide variety of architectures, including server-class and embedded systems. The results show that SCHISM/CMR tolerates fragmentation better thanprevious schemes, with a much more acceptable throughput penalty.

Funding for PhD Students available

2010-06-01 at 09:55

EPSRC-funded PhD Research Studentships in Computer Science with Enhanced Stipend

Cloud Computing/Artificial Intelligence and Symbolic Computation/Networks and Distributed Systems/Systems Engineering

University of St Andrews - School of Computer Science

The School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews has funding from EPSRC for eligible students to undertake PhD research in one of the following general areas:

Cloud Computing
Artificial Intelligence and Symbolic Computation
Networks and Distributed Systems
Systems Engineering

As part of this, we are looking for highly motivated research students with an interest in these exciting research areas.
A list of potential PhD projects is available from our web site ( but other projects may also be possible. If you have your own ideas for research in these areas, we'd like to talk to you about them. Our only requirements are that the proposed research would be good, we have staff to supervise it, and that you would be good at doing it.

We have EPSRC-funded studentships available for students interested in working towards a PhD. EPSRC studentships offers costs of UK/EU fees and an annual tax-free maintenance stipend of about £13,650 per year for 3.5 years. Exceptionally well qualified and able students may be awarded an enhanced stipend of an additional £2,000 per year. These studentships are only open to students who fulfil the EPSRC's eligibility requirements. Students whose family home is outside the EU are unlikely to fulfil the eligibility requirements and for full details see We cannot give funding to ineligible students.

Students should normally have or expect at least an upper-2nd class Honours degree or Masters degree in Computer Science or a related discipline.

For further information on how to apply, see our postgraduate web pages ( The closing date for applications is 25th June and we will make decisions on studentship allocation by mid-July. (Applications after 25th June may be considered, at our discretion.) Informal enquiries can be directed to or to potential supervisors.

MoN9 - Ninth Mathematics of Networks meeting

2010-06-17 at 23:00 in St Andrews

The Ninth Mathematics of Networks (MoN9) meeting will be held on 18th June 2010 at the School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews. The conference is held in cooperation with SICSA. This meeting has the theme “The Mathematics of Mobile Networks” and aproximately half the talks will be on this theme but all topics about the mathematics of networks are of interest. The meeting has been arranged to follow the workshop on Modelling and Analysis of Networked and Distributed Systems in Stirling on 17th June 2010.


2010-06-23 at 12:57

Benjamin Birt, newly graduated in Computer Science from this university, has developed PeerBook, a new internet social networking site that provides the security and privacy that sites like Facebook and MySpace fail to provide. Ben plans to spend the summer refining and testing the PeerBook software. He will then make it available for free on the web. PeerBook Home Page; The Register.

Scottish Programming Language Seminar

2010-06-30 at 11:00 to 16:30 in Room 1.33

The Scottish Programming Languages Seminar is a forum for discussion of all aspects of programming languages. Talks by Scots and by visitors are welcome.
SPLS receives financial support from the Complex Systems Engineering theme of SICSA, the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance.

Lectureship positions available

2010-07-08 at 15:01

The School is seeking applications for a Lectureship in human-computer interaction and a Lectureship in Software Engineering.

The lectureship in human-computer interaction is funded by SICSA.

Information on how to apply.

SICSA DVF: Professor Erik Hollnagel

2010-08-02 at 08:40

Professor Erik Hollnagel (MINES, ParisTech) will be in St Andrews from 8th August to 28th August as a SICSA Distinguished Visiting Fellow. A smmary itinerary is presented below. Fuller details are available on the SICSA web pages (

Tuesday August 10 (St Andrews): "Wildness in Wait" A two hour Master Class on complex systems and resilience engineering (aimed at PhD students).

Thursday August 12 (Glasgow): "How to make healthcare resilient" A one hour colloquium.

Tuesday August 17 (Aberdeen): "How can you ensure that things go right if you only look at things that go wrong? An illustration of how to use resilience engineering" A one hour public lecture (limited places available).

Thursday August 19 (St Andrews): Critical Networked Infrastructures (As part of a discussion panel at the SICSA Socio-Technical System Network meeting).

Tuesday August 24 (Edinburgh): "Socio-technical systems: Dependability or resilience?" A one hour colloquium.

Thursday August 26 (St Andrews): Resilience engineering and the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM): A one day tutorial aimed at all levels.

Master Class: "Wildness in Wait" - Complex Systems and Resilience Engineering

2010-08-10 at 09:00 in School of Computer Science, Jack Cole Building

Tuesday 10th August 10:00 SICSA DVF Professor Erik Hollnagel (MINES, ParisTech), a leading authority on resilience engineering, will deliver a two hour Master Class explaining how systems have become more complex through history and how this challenges established linear safety models and methods. Resilience engineering emphasises the need to treat dynamic systems qua systems, rather than focus on component failure probabilities. Contact Gordon Baxter ( to register your interest in attending this event.

European Commission Award

2010-08-17 at 11:20

The University has been awarded ¤ 173,903 by the European Commission as a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship under FP7 to be held by Dr Vladimir Komendantsky, for 24 months from 1 April 2010, to work in the Computational Logic Research Group under the guidance of Dr Roy Dyckhoff. The research topic, with acronym SImPL, concerns the representation of extended regular expression languages using dependent type theory and the formal verification of properties of functions manipulating such languages.

Critical Networked Infrastructures: Discussion Panel

2010-08-19 at 12:30 to 16:00 in JC 1.33a (TBC)

The next meeting of the SICSA Sociotechnical Systems Network will be on Thursday 19th August. We will be holding a discussion panel about critical netwrked infrastructures. Panel members will be Jim Urqhart (Scottish Gov), Erik Hollnagel (MINES, ParisTech and SICSA DVF), Chris Johnson (U of Glasgow), and Ian Sommerville (U of St Andrews). Timetable:

13:30 Welcome & Refreshments
14:00 Panel presentations
15:00 Discussions
16:00 Wrap-up & Refreshments

Anyone wishing to attend, please contact Gordon Baxter by teh afternoon of Monday 16th August, so we can organise catering.

Resilience Engineering and the Functional Resonance Analysis Method FRAM: One day tutorial

2010-08-26 at 08:30 to 16:00 in Room 1.33a, Jack Cole Building, School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews

SICSA Distinguished Visiting Fellow Professor Erik Hollnagel (MINES, ParisTech) will be giving a one day tutorial on resilience engineering. The first half of the tutorial will introduce the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM) and how it relates to resilience engineering. The second half will go through some examples, to give the participants the possibility of a ‘hands-on’ experience with the FRAM.

This event is free, and tea/coffe and lunch will be provided.

Contact Gordon Baxter (gdb at for more details.

Principles and Practice of Constraint Programming 2010

2010-09-05 at 23:00 in St Andrews

CP 2010, the main academic constraint programming conference, will be held in St Andrews.

The Conference Chair will be Karen Petrie, supported by a local organising committee involving Peter Jeavons (Oxford), Chris Jefferson (St. Andrews), Alan Frisch (York), Ian Gent (St. Andrews), Angela Miguel (St. Andrews), Ian Miguel (St. Andrews), Patrick Prosser (Glasgow) and Barbara Smith (Leeds).

Phones Know How You Feel

2010-09-30 at 08:12

New research developed by the University of St Andrews can explore the effects of location and the company you keep on your mood, all via mobile phone technology.

The new system, called EmotionSense created by Dr. Mirco Musolesi, Lecturer in our School, in collaboration with researchers at Cambridge University, could help psychologists to better understand human emotional behaviour.

EmotionSense is a framework for collecting data in human interaction studies based on mobile phones. EmotionSense gathers participants' emotions as well as proximity and patterns of conversation by processing the outputs from the sensors of off-the-shelf smartphones. This can be used to understand the correlation and the impact of interactions and activities on the emotions and behavior of individuals.

St Andrews student success at Young Software Engineer of the Year awards

2010-09-30 at 23:00

Alistair Scott, who graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Internet Computer Science from St Andrews in 2010, came second in the Young Software Engineer of the Year awards for his Senior Honours project, "Activity Inferencing Using the Web". The project developed a system for determining a user's activity, based on their location and context as retrieved from various Web 2.0 resources. The award was presented at a gala dinner in Edinburgh, hosted by Olympian Kriss Akabusi.

From left to right: Kriss Akabusi, Alistair Scott and David Murie of the British Computer Society. Photograph courtesy of ScotlandIS.

MSc scholarships

2010-10-15 at 12:53

A limited number of University scholarships is available for international MSc students. There are currently six partial scholarships worth £2,000 and two full scholarships that cover full fees.

SSCC Student Reps announcement

2010-10-28 at 23:00

The school elections have been completed for 2010-11. Please see Student Reps for contact information

Machines Reasoning about Machines

2010-11-15 at 11:00 to 16:30 in Cole 133a/b, Physics (Lecture Theatre B)

Computer hardware and software can be modeled precisely in mathematical logic. If expressed appropriately, these models can be executable.
The ``appropriate'' logic is an axiomatically formalized functional programming language. This allows models to be used as simulation engines or rapid prototypes. But because they are formal they can be manipulated by symbolic means:
theorems can be proved about them, directly, with mechanical theorem provers. But how practical is this vision of machines reasoning about machines?
In this highly personal talk, I will describe the 40 year history of the ``Boyer-Moore Project'' and discuss progress toward making formal verification practical. Among other examples I will describe important theorems about commercial microprocessor designs, including parts of processors by AMD, Motorola, IBM, Rockwell-Collins and others. Some of these microprocessor models execute at 90% the speed of C models and have had important functional properties verified. In addition, I will describe a model of the Java Virtual Machine, including class loading and bytecode verification and the proofs of theorems about JVM methods. In the latter half of this 3-hour seminar we will look closely at how such machines are formalized and how the theorem prover is ``taught'' to reason about them, by looking at simpler examples drawn from list processing and a ``toy'' version of the JVM.

Scholarships for MSc Students

2010-11-16 at 12:18

Masters Scholarships for MSc Students

The school is delighted to announce new tuition fee scholarships for 2011 entry. These awards are for students classified as overseas for fee purposes.

    Available Awards
  • 2 full scholarships are available, each providing 100% of tuition fees.
  • 6 partial scholarships will each provide 15% of tuition fees. This will equate to around £2000 per award.

Application Procedure

Students must have applied for these awards by 31st May, 2011. To apply, please provide a written statement, no more than one page long, indicating why you feel you should be considered for a scholarship. This statement can be submitted online along with your application form.

Scottish Parallel Computational Mathematics Meeting

2010-11-19 at 10:30 to 16:00 in Boardroom, Gateway

The third SICSA/NAIS Scottish Parallel Computational Mathematics Meeting (SPARC-M)

This is the third of a series of Scottish Parallel Computational Mathematics Meetings to explore and develop synergies between major Scottish research activities in parallel computational mathematics, e.g. NAIS, HPC-GAP, SCIEnce, Computational Statistics and Cognitive
Neuroscience, Vector Processing Languages.The meeting is open and interested participants are encouraged to attend.

What do Academics do all Day?

2010-12-06 at 14:00 to 15:15 in Cole 1.33 Lab

Almost all UK Prime Ministers of this and the last century have attended University. It is clear, however, that most of those know little of what a university is trying to achieve or how it is organized within the local, national and international context. This is the fault of academics. Our negligence in setting the context for politicians, when they are students, has led to a misunderstanding of the role of a university. As a consequence, piecemeal governmental funding has compromised teaching, research and the educational aspirations of students.

In this talk I will review the traditional role of a university and why universities are fundamental to a modern knowledge based economy. Amongst the questions addressed will be:

  • What is a University? – what does a University do?
  • How is the University of St Andrews organised to meet its goals?
  • How is the School of Computer Science organised?
  • How is teaching facilitated?
  • How is research funded and undertaken?
  • Why is the job so difficult when it looks easy?

Ron Morrison arrived at the University of St Andrews on 1st April 1971. He was Professor of Software Engineering and Head of the School of Computer Science from 1988 until his retirement in 2008. His day consisted of balancing the needs of teaching, administration and research, both personally and for the School.

His special Computer Science research interests are in programming language design, persistent object systems, reflective computing, the evaluation of complex systems, distributed garbage collection, and compliant systems architectures. He has published 11 books and about 130 research papers.

*****CANCELLED****Ambient Displays and Changing Behaviours...

2010-12-08 at 13:00 to 14:00 in School of Computer Science, University of St. Andrews Cole 1.33a Lab

It is well known that when making a decision - be it buying food, choosing what to wear or even selecting a partner - people often ignore most of the available information in the environment and rely instead on a few important cues. At the same time, recent surveys have shown that people are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of their decisions, and want to know more about what they buy, consume or wear. How can we help people make more informed decisions given their tendency to make snap judgements? In my talk, I will describe a new genre of mobile, social and ambient devices that are currently being developed to change people's behaviour.

White Worm Could Stop Bluetooth Viruses

2010-12-16 at 14:33

White Worm Could Stop Bluetooth Viruses

An MIT Technology Review article features work co authored by Dr Mirco Musolesi

EmotionSense project - one of the top 100 innovations of the year 2010

2011-01-13 at 13:25

EmotionSense project has been selected as one of the top 100 innovations of the year 2010 by the independent global observatory for techologies NetExplorateur.

Computational Logic seminar - "Interactive Predictive Parsing and Partially Bracketed Parsing"

2011-01-26 at 16:00 to 17:00 in GoldFish Bowl

"Interactive Predictive Parsing and Partially Bracketed Parsing"

Interactive Predictive Parsing can be used in semi-automatic parsing systems, which can be used by annotators in order to obtain completely correct parse trees with little effort. This is used, for example, in the creation of syntactically annotated corpora. The parsing algorithm takes advantage of amendments entered by the user, whereby the solution is iteratively refined.

Partially Bracketed Parsing refers to the ability to parse strings with partial annotation of the syntactic structure.

An introduction to both issues will be given, and the relationship between the two will be explained.

Second year Students to take part in Exchange

2011-02-10 at 15:07

Franziska Schmidt and Michael Luckeneder are congratulated for obtaining, against strong competition, places on the North American Exchange Programme. Both are currently second level students in this School: Franziska's place is at Queen's University (Canada) and Michael's is at University of Virginia (USA).

Visiting day

2011-02-12 at 09:00 to 20:00

Visiting day for current UCAS applicants.

The Visiting Day, specifically for UCAS applicants, comprises a full programme to show what studying Computer Science at St Andrews is all about. Visitors will hear talks from lecturers, professors and current students. They will see demonstrations of research projects from undergraduates and postgraduate researchers. They will also be fed!

After the Computer Science programme, current students will conduct tours of our student residences, and help explore the town of St Andrews. Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to attend a dinner with other applicants, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and members of staff. This will give the chance to ask any remaining questions in an informal setting.

A Camel is a Horse Designed by a Committee: The Design and Evolution of C++

2011-02-28 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Physics Lecture Theatre B

C++ is one of the most popular, and disliked, programming languages. This talk will discuss the past, present and future of C++ from the point of view of the committee which designs it. In particular, I will discuss why some features ended up in C++, and others did not.

This talk does not require any knowledge of C++, just an interest in how languages and designed and evolve over 30 years.

Practical privacy-aware opportunistic networking

2011-03-01 at 13:00 to 14:00 in Cole 1.33

When in physical proximity, data may be directly exchanged between the mobile phones people carry - for example over Bluetooth. If people cooperate to store and forward data on one another's behalf, then an opportunistic network may be formed, independent of traditional infrastructure. How might we measure the privacy concerns that people have about such networks? Taking into account these concerns, can we maintain network performance?

Information Visualisation

2011-03-07 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Physics Lecture Theatre B

Society's continued reliance on information and communications technologies has resulted in organizations generating, gathering, and storing “raw data” at a rate growing each year. The ability for even a mid-sized organization to store tens to hundreds of terabytes of data is already within reach. Massive storage technologies are rapidly outstripping our ability to effectively analyse, explore, and understand such voluminous data. While research in other fields such as data mining, machine learning and knowledge management are also attempting to aid in the analysis of such voluminous data, there is a realisation that the “human-in-the-loop” affords a visual analysis not possible through automation alone.

As such, the area of visual analytics extends the fields of scientific and information visualization by incorporating techniques from knowledge management, statistical analysis, cognitive science and decision science.

This talk will outline how voluminous data is modeled, managed, mined and hence visually presented for exploration. Several large scale data and information visualisation methods will be described and discussed along with the a number of challenges and open research questions we face as researchers in using visualisation in an attempt to present information.

Sensor and sense-ability: building systems in the face of uncertainty.

2011-03-14 at 14:30 to 15:30 in Physics Lecture Theatre B

It has been an old maxim in com put ing that incor rect inputs can
acceptably give rise to unac cept able out puts: "garbage in, garbage
out". This is ceas ing to be true, and many classes of sys tems must
behave predictably even in the face of inputs con tain ing sub stan tial
errors and uncertainty — although research ers del ic ately use terms
like "impre cise" or "unstructured" instead of "garbage". In this talk
we discuss some approaches to man aging the prob lem of impre cise,
inaccurate, untimely and par tial inputs in the con text of per vas ive
and sensor-driven sys tems, and sug gest that we need to re-think
rad ic ally the way we build soft ware and rep res ent decision-making
in these environments.

Visiting Day

2011-03-19 at 09:00 to 20:00

Visiting day for current UCAS applicants.

The Visiting Day, specifically for UCAS applicants, comprises a full programme to show what studying Computer Science at St Andrews is all about. Visitors will hear talks from lecturers, professors and current students. They will see demonstrations of research projects from undergraduates and postgraduate researchers. They will also be fed!

After the Computer Science programme, current students will conduct tours of our student residences, and help explore the town of St Andrews. Finally, visitors will have the opportunity to attend a dinner with other applicants, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and members of staff. This will give the chance to ask any remaining questions in an informal setting.

An Ontology for Robotics Science

2011-04-12 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Physics Lecture Theatre C

Ontologies are set to play an increasing role in robotics. The hope is that ontologies describing sensor and robot components can be used to permit automatic construction and configuration of robotic systems. The component level is not, however, the only place that ontologies could play a role. In this talk I outline ideas for an ontology of robotics itself, as a science, and indicate how to construct formal structures able to represent the different domains of robotics, such as field robotics or medical robotics, and their inter-relationships. With such an ontology, it is may be possible to classify papers into research fields, or give meaning for machines to notions such as "space-qualified components". Professor John Hallam is an established teacher and researcher, and director of a substantial group working in Mobile Robotics. His research interests include biomimetic robotics, evolutionary robotics, connectionist computing, computer vision, and electronic sensors and hardware. A mathematician by training, he has many years experience of electronic systems design, both academic and commercial, and familiarity with engineering language and methods.

New Honours programme approved

2011-04-15 at 18:45

The School regularly revises its curricula to keep them current with the latest developments in Computer Science. For 2011/2, we will be introducing some new Honours modules:

  • CS3052 Computational Complexity
  • CS3053 Research and Professional Issues in Computing
  • CS4052 Logic and Software Verification
  • CS4204 Concurrency and Multi-core Architectures
  • CS4303 Video Games

Our Honours programme has also been made significantly more flexible. Junior Honours students will now be able to choose any four modules from a selection of seven, replacing the current fixed curriculum. Senior Honours students have even more choice, and will be able to "dip-up" to take one or two MSc modules as well as the various third- and fourth-level modules.

Further information can be found in the Course Catalogue.

St Andrews CS is 7th in Complete University Guide

2011-04-18 at 06:37

The School of Computer Science is 7th in the latest Complete University Guide for Computer Science, rising from 15th last year. The University as a whole came 6th. We are particularly proud of our student satisfaction score, which is the highest in the country.

St Andrews student wins undergraduate of the year award

2011-04-18 at 13:52

Adam Copp, a Junior honours Computer Science student won the TARGET jobs IT and Computer Science Undergraduate of the Year Award for 2011. The award was sponsored by BT and, through a series of online tests, application forms, interviews and assessment exercises, Adam emerged as winner. BT only targeted a relatively small number of universities and so he beat off competition from other excellent students from other excellent universities. Pictured below is a photo of Adam collecting the award from Michael Portillo (who hosted the awards) and Andy Skingley, Director of IP, Media and Mobility Platforms at BT.

Systems Seminar Series: MADFACE: Simple Application Deployment and Monitoring

2011-04-20 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

The next talk in the Systems Seminar Series will be given by Graham Kirby on Wednesday April 20th, 1300-1400 in Cole 1.33:

Title: MADFACE: Simple Application Deployment and Monitoring

Abstract: I will describe the design of, and demonstrate, MADFACE, a simple Java tool to manage an application on a set of nodes. The tool supports the following requirements: deploy an application to a set of nodes with minimal pre-installation; automatically detect available nodes; monitor nodes for continuing functioning of the application; automatically redeploy/restart the application whenever necessary; and provide hooks for adding application-specific control operations.

From Recommendation to Reputation: Information Discovery Gets Personal

2011-04-22 at 10:00 to 15:30 in Physics: Lecture Theatre B: 11.00-12.00noon Purdie: Lecture Theatre A:14.0-17.00

These lectures will focus on how personalization techniques and recommender systems are being used in response to the information overload problem that face web users everyday. Personalization research brings together ideas from artificial intelligence, user profiling, information retrieval and user-interface design to provide users with more proactive and intelligent information services that are capable of predicting the needs of individuals and adapting to their implicit preferences. We will review core ideas from recommender systems research, drawing on the many practical examples that have underpinned modern web success stories, from e-commerce to mobile applications. In addition we will explore how the next generation of web search is likely to be influenced by recommender systems techniques that can facilitate a more social and collaborative approach to web search, which complements the purely algorithmic focus of contemporary search engines.

A Joint Systems/SACHI Seminar: Resilient Human-Computer Interaction: How far can you push Autonomic?

2011-05-03 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

Human-computer interaction (HCI) is being exploited in many application domains to carry out tasks that were previously thought impossible or life-threatening, e.g., remote operation of mining equipment, robot- assisted search and rescue operations, and military operations. Regardless of the sophistication of the technology, these systems are operated with varying levels of intervention and control by humans, so successful HRI requires solving both human factors challenges such as maintaining situation awareness, managing cognitive load and establishing trust and computational challenges such as executable models of situation awareness and intention recognition. This project is concerned only with the computational perspective and specifically with understanding how autonomous a system can be and still remain resilient to failure.

Design for Recovery: New challenges for large-scale complex IT systems

2011-05-05 at 15:00 to 16:00 in Physics Lecture Theatre C

Since the 1980s, the object of design for dependability has been to avoid, detect or tolerate system faults so that these do not result in failures that are detectable outside the system. Whilst this is potentially achievable in medium size systems that are controlled by a single organisations, it is now practically impossible to achieve in large-scale systems of systems where different parts of the system are owned and controlled by different organisations. Therefore, we must accept the inevitability of failure and re-orient our system design strategies to recover from those failures at minimal cost and as quickly as possible.

This talk will discuss why such recovery strategies cannot be purely technical but must be socio-technical in nature and argue that design for recovery will require a better understanding of how people recover from failure and the information they need during that recovery process. I will argue that supporting recovery should be a fundamental design objective of systems and explore what this means for current approaches to large-scale systems design.

Haskell for the Cloud

2011-05-09 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Physics Lecture Theatre B

Prof Black will present Cloud Haskell, a domain-specific language for developing programs for a distributed-memory computing environment, on which he worked during his recent sabbatical at Microsoft Research, Cambridge. Cloud Haskell is implemented as a shallow embedding in Haskell; it provides a message-passing communication model, inspired by Erlang, without introducing incompatibility with Haskell's established shared-memory concurrency. A key contribution is a method for serializing function closures for transmission across the network.

Cloud Haskell has been implemented; the talk will include some example code and some preliminary performance measurements.

This is joint work with Jeff Epstein (Cambridge Computing Lab) and Simon Peyton Jones (Microsoft).

Systems Seminar Series: Scalable Cloud architectures from a Service Provider point of view

2011-05-10 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

There are a few extremes out there when it comes to physical Cloud architectures. The original Amazon architecture uses a very simple model where there is fundamentally only local storage (simple SATA disk most likely not even mirrored) that is not persistent (if you lose your instance you have lost the data that was written to that disk) and not too reliable either. Of course you can push data into S3 via various mechanisms but we don’t consider that as truly persistent fast storage. This architecture makes massive scaling relatively easy as all you have to worry about is getting enough servers for the best price and a network fabric that can scale. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the likes of EMC that push VMware in connection with their Vmax storage SANs that cost millions and supposedly provide excellent Cloud scaling. While they make things very easy and seamless for the customer (persistent fast storage), these architectures quickly hit bottlenecks and costs explode dramatically. I will speak about some of the reasons why traditional SANs don’t work in the cloud. The truth is somewhere in between if you try to balance cost, speed, persistency and usability and there is no right or wrong answer either.

There are additional areas where massive scaling becomes a major challenge. In a traditional ISP environment, security and good customer separation was and is still achieved with VLANs. A very simple and efficient way of doing it. However, this create two problems. 1) Most modern switches either support max. 1024/2048/4096 VLANs. While this sounds a lot, it is actually not. 2) By using VLANs, you are wasting a lot of IP addresses (gold dust right now) and if you go to RIPE and ask for more, you won’t get them because they have hardly any left and rightfully argue that you would have enough if you would use them in a better way.

The last area is that of the core network fabric, especially for the storage network. While 10GbE sounds a lot of bandwidth, as soon as you have 100s if not 1000s of VMs running using either NFS or FCoE, you run into contention and port density challenges. There are only a few players that can provide that kind of bandwidth with 100s of 10GbE ports for fully non-blocking traffic and costs explode again. There is always the option of segmenting the customers into smaller 10GbE domains but that creates new problems of its own. What these are I will explain as well.

I will be able to show what kind of solutions we found to solve some of the problems, but in other areas, we are still exploring, learning and experimenting. I would be very keen to share those challenges with your team and maybe use another session to discuss one of the specific problems we haven’t found satisfactory answers yet and tap into the massive know-how pool of the university.

A Joint Systems/SACHI Seminar: Community-finding in Large-scale Social Networks

2011-05-16 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

The Clique research group in University College Dublin is focused on the analysis and visualisation of social networks.
Computer scientists and computational statisticians are working together on problems including community-finding in social
networks, influence propagation and detection of anomalous structure in networks. Research is driven by the analysis
of large-scale networks provided by industrial partners, in particular, networks of mobile phone-calls containing more than a million nodes and
tens of millions of links. In this talk, I will focus primarily on the community-finding problem, discussing initially the structure of real-world
networks and on how this impacts on the communities that likely to be found in such networks. I will argue that the view of social networks
as consisting of well-separated communities connected by weak links does not hold in many real-world networks and I will introduce algorithms that we have
developed to detect overlapping community structure in networks with pervasive overlapping community structure.

Towards Pervasive Personal Data

2011-05-16 at 13:30 to 14:30 in Physics Lecture Theatre B

This talk will outline an embryonic project to develop a software infrastructure supporting pervasive data, in which file data will flow automatically to the places that it is needed. Equilibrium will be achieved when the data reaches all the necessary places. When the equilibrium is perturbed, due to either the data or the necessary places changing, the infrastructure will react to restore the equilibrium by initiating new data flows.

The infrastructure will approximate the ideal of all of a user’s files being available at all locations all of the time. The user will be able to exert high-level influence on how this approximation is achieved, by specifying the desired equilibrium declaratively. The user will also be able to define policy that influences the priorities attached to restoring various non-equilibrium aspects of the system.

St Andrews CS is 2nd in Guardian University Guide

2011-05-17 at 06:30

The School of Computer Science is 2nd in the 2012 Guardian University Guide, with the University as a whole coming 3rd.

Systems Seminar Series: Autonomic Management of Client Concurrency in a Distributed Storage Service

2011-05-18 at 12:00 to 12:30 in Cole 1.33a

The talk is about a paper which will be presented at the 4th IFIP/IEEE Workshop on Distributed Autonomous Network Management Systems (DANMS), being held as part of the 12th IFIP/IEEE International Symposium on Integrated Network Management (IM2011) in Dublin at the end of May. A distributed autonomic system adapts its constituent components to a changing environment. The talk and the paper is a report on the application of autonomic management to a distributed storage service. We developed a simple analytic model which suggested potential benefit from tuning the degree of concurrency used in data retrieval operations, to suit dynamic conditions. We then validated this experimentally by developing an autonomic manager to control the degree of concurrency. We compared the resulting data retrieval performance with non-autonomic versions, using various combinations of network capacity, membership churn and workload patterns. Overall, autonomic management yielded improved data retrieval performance.

Systems Seminar Series: Revisiting delay-based TCP, and implementing 'stateless' TCP for HTTP servers.

2011-05-19 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

This talk will cover two papers being presented at IFIP Networking 2011 [1] and NOSSDAV 2011 [2] respectively. The first looks at a novel variant of TCP that uses the gradient of RTT fluctuations to infer when losses are congestion-induced or not, and minimises induced queuing delays relative to loss-based TCP. The second looks at some simplifications ('hacks') to the TCP state machine that significantly reduces the resource requirements of HTTP servers.

[1] D. Hayes, G. Armitage, "Revisiting TCP Congestion Control using Delay Gradients," IFIP/TC6 NETWORKING 2011, Valencia, Spain, 9-13 May 2011

[2] D. Hayes, M. Welzl, G. Armitage, M. Rossi, "Improving HTTP performance using "Stateless" TCP," ACM NOSSDAV 2011, Vancouver, Canda, June 2011

Systems Seminar Series: Control and Understanding - Owning Your Home Network

2011-05-26 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

The Homework project takes a radically different approach to the problem of home networking: we consider the needs of the user rather than blindly reusing existing technology. Properly addressing these requirements needs more than just new user interfaces, with interesting design and implementation implications all the way down the networking stack.

In this talk I will give some background to Homework, briefly present results from some of the ethnographic work that has been carried out, and then go into the impact this has had on our technology design in some detail. In doing so I will describe implementation of our Homework Router on Linux using Open vSwitch and NOX, and how we use it to provide two new capabilities: putting people into the protocols, and providing for physically mediated access control.

Bio: Richard Mortier is a Horizon Transitional Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham. His research currently centres on networked technologies within the Digital Economy. In addition to the topic of this talk this currently also includes exokernels for secure high-performance multiscale computing; and infrastructure to build an ecosystem around privacy preserving third-party access to personal data. His background is in systems and networking, covering operating systems, distributed systems, and local and wide-area networking. Prior to joining Nottingham he spent two years as founder at Vipadia Limited designing and building the Clackpoint and Karaka real-time communications products, six years as a researcher with Microsoft Research Cambridge, and seven months as a visitor at Sprint ATL, CA. He received a Ph.D. from the Systems Research Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, and a B.A. in Mathematics, also from the University of Cambridge.

Lectureship Vacancy

2011-05-26 at 23:00

The School is seeking applications for a Lectureship in Computer Science

The lectureship is funded by SICSA.

Information on how to apply.

The 2010/11 CS1006 Othello Competition

2011-06-02 at 06:49

See the blog article for the story and photos/p>

Enabling zero-cost connectivity to disadvantaged communities

2011-06-02 at 14:00 in Jack Cole Room 1.33a

Speaker: Arjuna Sathiaseelan ( from the University of Aberdeen

Abstract: Sensors have now become all-pervasive and are more and more seen as a solution to large-scale tracking and monitoring applications in particular health monitoring applications. Affordable devices that enable remote health monitoring of patients are available. Using sensors and mobile devices within communities, researchers can now understand the social structure of these communities creating social networks and using these networks to predict epidemic spread within communities. Such technological advances would facilitate better monitoring of health and with the advancement of medical science the average life expectancy is expected to grow. Infectious diseases are now the world's biggest killer of children and adults. They account for more than 13 million deaths a year for e.g. Influenza alone causes 250,000-500,000 deaths annually. Most deaths from infectious diseases occur in developing countries - where about one third of the population - 1.3 billion people - live on incomes of less than a day. The poorest countries are paying a heavy price for the world's complacency and neglect.

The questions which I would like to address in this talk are: What is the reason for such inequality? Why are these technologies not reaching the poorest of the poor, the most disadvantaged communities? Or in other words why are these technologies not being used efficiently to save lives of millions?

Through this talk, I try to break the current mould of thinking that connectivity to all should be governed by law of economics. The disparity between the disconnected and the connected world could be resolved if we can provide connectivity at zero-cost atleast to support e-health.

Lecture: Enabling zero-cost connectivity to disadvantaged communities

2011-06-02 at 14:00 to 15:00 in Jack Cole 1.33a

Speaker: Arjuna Sathiaseelan ( from the University of Aberdeen

Abstract: Sensors have now become all-pervasive and are more and more seen as a solution to large-scale tracking and monitoring applications in particular health monitoring applications. Affordable devices that enable remote health monitoring of patients are available. Using sensors and mobile devices within communities, researchers can now understand the social structure of these communities creating social networks and using these networks to predict epidemic spread within communities. Such technological advances would facilitate better monitoring of health and with the advancement of medical science the average life expectancy is expected to grow. Infectious diseases are now the world's biggest killer of children and adults. They account for more than 13 million deaths a year for e.g. Influenza alone causes 250,000-500,000 deaths annually. Most deaths from infectious diseases occur in developing countries - where about one third of the population - 1.3 billion people - live on incomes of less than a day. The poorest countries are paying a heavy price for the world's complacency and neglect.

The questions which I would like to address in this talk are: What is the reason for such inequality? Why are these technologies not reaching the poorest of the poor, the most disadvantaged communities? Or in other words why are these technologies not being used efficiently to save lives of millions?

Through this talk, I try to break the current mould of thinking that connectivity to all should be governed by law of economics. The disparity between the disconnected and the connected world could be resolved if we can provide connectivity at zero-cost atleast to support e-health.

Prof Ian Sommerville discusses Cloud Computing on BBC Radio Scotland

2011-06-09 at 10:40

Prof Ian Sommerville of the University of St Andrews School of Computer Science was interviewed today on BBC Radio Scotland. Prof Sommerville was speaking during the first International Summer School on Cloud Computing for PhD students and early career researchers working in or interested in using cloud computing. The summer school involves presentations from eminent speakers working in cloud computing and hands-on experience of developing cloud-based systems using Amazon or the StACC private cloud and is supported by LSCITS and SICSA.

The Interview begins at around 01:50:00.

Storage Server Protype

2011-06-09 at 22:37

Miller Prize for Joe Schaul

2011-06-10 at 08:56

One of our graduating students, Joe Schaul, has been awarded the University's "Miller Prize". The Prize is awarded to the best final-year undergraduate in the Science Faculty. As well has having an excellent academic record throughout his 4 years in the School, Joe also produced an exceptional undergraduate project. He developed a computer simulation framework for complex networks and applied it to two very different, real-world case studies: 1) the study of epidemics using a probabilistic model for various complex network topologies; and 2) the study of the effects of super-node crashes in Skype-like computer networks. The project was extremely challenging: it involved not only aspects related to the design, implementation and performance analysis of a scalable simulation tool for thousands of nodes, but it also required a very deep understanding of the problems related to the simulation of complex systems.

Well done, Joe!

Systems Seminar: Responsibility Modeling for Identifying Sociotechnical Threats to the Dependability of Coalitions of Systems

2011-06-14 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

With the rise of cloud computing and system-of- systems we are entering an era where mission critical services and applications will be dependent upon ‘‘coalitions-of-systems’’. Coalitions-of-systems (CoS) are a class of system similar to systems-of-systems but they differ in that they interact to further overlapping self- interests rather than an overarching mission. Assessing the sociotechnical dependability of CoS is an open research question of societal importance as existing sociotechnical dependability analysis techniques typically do not assess threats associated with coalition partners reneging on responsibilities or leaving a coalition. We use a cloud computing based case study to demonstrate that a responsibility modeling based risk analysis approach enables the identification of these threats. We provide first evidence that inspecting the distribution of liabilities among coalition partners may indicate the fragility of overlapping self-interests.

Systems Seminar: Data, data, data: Challenges for opportunistic network research

2011-06-15 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

Opportunistic networking and opportunistic communications has been a popular area of research in the mobile networking community for several years now. But we still have a bit of a way to go before we can deploy these systems on a large scale. This talk will look at some of the outstanding research challenges, and suggest ways in which the research community can address these.

This is a practice keynote talk for The Fifth IEEE WoWMoM Workshop on Autonomic and Opportunistic Communications So expect more pontification than substance

Computer Science the new cool thing

2011-06-15 at 15:10

Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

The New York Times says that Computer Science is the next cool thing.

The article reports that with release of the film "The Social Network", students can see themselves as the next Mark Zuckerberg. The job market for Computer Science graduates is buoyant with the number of computer science graduates not coming close to filling the jobs available. The article reports that technology is one of the few bright spots in the flagging (US) economy. It further states that in order to hook students, Universities such as Yale are offering first year students courses on subjects such as computer graphics, in which students learn the technical underpinnings of a Pixar movie.

St Andrews has also embraced such initiatives, in our CS1005 Computer Science in everyday life module students examine the devices and services which are part of modern everyday life, such as search engines, personal music players, mobile telephones and social networking sites. The Programming projects module (CS1006) is conducted as a series of coursework assignments posed as mini-projects. Past projects have included 3D recreations of the first year laboratory, phone apps, space invaders and most recently a networked Othello game

Systems Seminar: Metric Spaces and Similarity Search

2011-06-16 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

Modern computer systems are increasingly involved in collecting large volumes of inherently irregular, self-describing, and unordered data which require to be stored and indexed. Database systems impose artificial keys on collections of values, in order to allow efficient indexing. Even ignoring issues of irregularity, keys can only be useful if it is possible to map from an instance, or partial instance, to the key. This however requires at least some natural key to be fixed a priori, which is is often impossible for large collections of partially captured self-describing data. Solutions to the problems of storing and indexing such data may be sought in the domain of Metric Spaces, with the notion of Similarity Search. A Metric Space comprises a set of objects and a distance function over them. Crucially, this function must be a proper distance metric: that is, the function is positive, symmetric, respects identity, and preserves triangle inequality. Triangle inequality (defined as: d(A,C) ≤ d(A,B) + d(B,C), for any A, B and C) implies that, if any two objects are far apart, then they cannot both be close to a third object. This property can be used to effect in the efficient indexing of large volumes of data for nearest-neighbour ("find the n most similar objects to this one"), and range ("find all objects within a distance of x of this one") queries. Similarity Search is a relatively modern topic, but has already produced interesting results in storage and search for images (cf Google's "find others like this" (ex!)-function) and other multimedia types (cf Shazam). There is a major problem in using it for graph databases, however, which is the lack of an effective distance metric over structured data. In this talk a new metric is presented, which is strongly grounded in information theory, and which can give a useful bounded distance over many structured data types. Bio: Richard Connor was an undergraduate, postgraduate, and research fellow at St Andrews between 1981 and 1996. He held an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship at the University of Glasgow until 1999, when he moved to a Chair of Computer Science at the University of Strathclyde. His research interests include programming systems and databases, in particular programming systems over semi-structured data.

Systems Seminar Series: ELVIRA - Elastic Virtual Infrastructure for Research Applications

2011-06-20 at 12:00 to 13:00 in Cole 1.33a

The ELVIRA project aims to enable researchers to simply and rapidly deploy, execute and monitor scientific software on elastic cloud computing infrastructures. Our focus is on the ‘long tail’ of scientific applications that do not currently benefit from the development of e Infrastructures for research but that are of immense scientific value as they are used by large communities of users. Their users often struggle to run them using traditional HTC or HPC compute resources for a variety of reasons including: the workload characteristics, a lack of technical skills or that they lack additional requirements such as collaboration support through shared desktop environments. We present progress to date on developing mechanisms to support our two exemplar applications:

  • * Running distributed GAP jobs using the SCSCP protocol
  • * Simulations of the Sun's corona (using Fortran and IDL codes)

St Andrews Computer Science is first in Scotland in Good University Guide

2011-06-23 at 15:29

The School of Computer Science is placed sixth in the UK and first in Scotland in the latest Times Good University Guide. The University as a whole also came sixth in the UK and first in Scotland.

Arduino workshop

2011-06-25 at 23:00

The School will hold an all day Arduino workshop on Sunday the 26th of June hosted by Dr David McKeown from UCD in Ireland. Thanks also to Ben Arent, an interaction designer based in Dublin for his help in supporting this.

The Arduino workshop preceeds the Summer School on Multimodal Systems for Digital Tourism that will be held in the School from 27th July to 1st August.

Arduino and Kinect equipment

You can see some of the Arduino and Kinect equipment we have for the summer school here starting on June 26th with an Arduino workshop. The focus of this summer school is to introduce a new generation of researchers to the latest research advances in multimodal systems, in the context of applications, services and technologies for tourists (Digital Tourism). Where mobile and desktop applications can rely on eyes down interaction, the tourist aims to keep their eyes up and focussed on the painting, statue, mountain, ski run, castle, loch or other sight before them.

In this school we focus on multimodal input and output interfaces, data fusion techniques and hybrid architectures, vision, speech and conversational interfaces, haptic interaction, mobile, tangible and virtual/augmented multimodal UIs, tools and system infrastructure issues for designing interfaces and their evaluation. Mornings are devoted to seminars from our international speakers followed by guided group work sessions or focussed time for project development. We are proving a dedicated lab with development machines for the duration of the school along with access to a MERL Diamondtouch, a Microsoft Surface (v1.0), a range of mobile devices, arduinos, phidget kits, pico-projectors, Kinects and haptic displays. As we expect participants from a range of backgrounds to attend we will form groups who will, through a guided process, propose a demonstrator they can realise during the summer school which they will demonstrate and showcase on the final day.

Summer School on Multimodal Systems for Digital Tourism

2011-06-26 at 23:00

The focus of this summer school is to introduce a new generation of researchers to the latest research advances in multimodal systems, in the context of applications, services and technologies for tourists (Digital Tourism). Where mobile and desktop applications can rely on eyes down interaction, the tourist aims to keep their eyes up and focussed on the painting, statue, mountain, ski run, castle, loch or other sight before them. In this school we focus on multimodal input and output interfaces, data fusion techniques and hybrid architectures, vision, speech and conversational interfaces, haptic interaction, mobile, tangible and virtual/augmented multimodal UIs, tools and system infrastructure issues for designing interfaces and their evaluation.

We have structured this summer school as a blend of theory and practice.

Professor Ian Sommerville Receives Teaching Awards

2011-06-30 at 09:00

Professor Ian Sommerville has been honoured for his work in software engineering education.

The distinguished researcher has received the 2011 SIGSOFT Influential Educator award from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and the 2011 Outstanding Educator award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

The awards recognise Professor Sommerville’s work in developing software engineering education and in helping establish The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance Graduate Academy in Scotland.

Systems Seminar: Challenges for Software Architecture: Complexity, Evolution and Uncertainty

2012-07-13 at 12:00 to 12:01 in Cole 1.33a

Software architecture is an abstract model of a system which captures its prominent functional and non-functional features. It emerged as an academic research area in the late 80s and early 90s and is used in industry in a variety of guises, although there is a wide gulf between some of the academic work and industrial practice. Software architectures, in appropriate forms, are useful both as a means of communication and understanding among stakeholders and as a basis for system validation and development. This talk will provide a brief overview of the area, an outline of some of the work currently being carried out in the School as well as a discussion of the challenges for the area in light of the changing nature of software systems and development practices.

This seminar aims to share ideas, thoughts and plans rather than to provide a detailed description of one aspect of our research.