School of Informatics

Distinguished alumnus becomes first Director of Alan Turing Institute

Informatics alumnus, Professor Andrew Blake, has become the first Director of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science, established earlier this year.

In 1983, Andrew received a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. He stayed on as a lecturer in Computer Science until 1987, when he moved to Oxford.

He joined Microsoft in 1999 as a Senior Researcher and went on to become a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, before standing down in October 2015 to become Director of the Institute.

Andrew says: "The Alan Turing Institute aims to break new boundaries in the design of algorithms for analysing data. I am delighted that I will be working so closely with former colleagues and alumni from the University of Edinburgh and the other partner organisations."


Andrew has retained his links with Edinburgh, returning to the School of Informatics as Visiting Professor in 2006 and receiving an honorary degree, Doctor of Science, from the University in 2013.

Further achievements include the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal (2006), Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Mountbatten Medal (2007) and, with colleagues at Microsoft Research, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award (2011) for their contribution to Microsoft Kinect human motion-capture.

Andrew was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1998, Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005 and Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2008.

He was elected to the council of the Royal Society in 2010 and to the board of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in 2012.

Mission of the Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science. It is a joint venture between founding partners, the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, University College London (UCL), Warwick and the EPSRC.

Its mission is to:

  • undertake data science research at the intersection of computer science, mathematics, statistics and systems engineering
  • provide technically informed advice to policy makers on the wider implications of algorithms
  • enable researchers from industry and academia to work together to undertake research with practical applications
  • act as a magnet for leaders in academia and industry from around the world to engage with the UK in data science and its applications.

Forthcoming events

A number of data summits and scientific scoping workshops are underway at Alan Turing Institute partner organisations and other locations across the UK.

Forthcoming workshops in Edinburgh include:

Event Date
Improving the data analytics process 18-19 November 2015
Deep Learning Scoping Workshop

23- 25-November 2015

Data science challenges in high-throughout biology and precision medicine 25 - 27 November 2015
Distributed Machine Learning and Optimization ​​​​​​​25 - 27 November 2015

​​​​​​​Useful links

Previous news story about the Alan Turing Institute

Alan Turing Institute website

EPSRC press release