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2021

All the news from 2021.

Informatics students win bronze in an international programming competition

RemotED, a team from the School of Informatics were placed 12th out of 129, winning a bronze medal, at the Northwestern Europe Regional Contest 2021 (NWERC), an official regional contest in the International Collegiate Programming Contest.

Tariq Elahi will work on a project aimed at keeping children safe online

A consortium that includes Informatics’ researcher Tariq Elahi has been awarded £85,000 by the UK Government to tackle one of society’s most pressing issues - keeping children safe online while using encrypted messaging apps such as Signal, WhatsApp or Viber. Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics Ltd lead on the project with Crisp (Leeds) and Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) also involved.

Informatics researchers to help make autonomous systems more responsible

Nadin Kokciyan and Michael Rovatsos will be working on one of the strands of a multi-disciplinary project that seeks to address responsibility gaps in autonomous systems. Informatics researchers will focus on the development of new techniques and tools for making autonomous systems more answerable. The project is led by Professor Shannon Vallor, Director of the Centre for Technomoral Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

School of Informatics graduates from 25 years ago meet online

2021 marked 25 years since the University of Edinburgh Computer Science, Joint Degrees and M.Eng. Class of 1996 graduated. The occasion called for a reunion and as the pandemic got in the way of meeting in person, an online reunion was hosted on 16th October 2021.

Ross Anderson looks into impact of client-side scanning on citizen’s privacy

In a recent report Ross Anderson and colleagues analyse solutions for mass surveillance through software embedded in users’ devices, as opposed to the current practice of monitoring people’s communications.

Informatics student awarded RSE Saltire Early Career Fellowship

Ioannis Pisokas, PhD student at the School of Informatics, has received a Saltire Early Career Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Informatics student awarded UKNEST Scholarship

Third-year Computer Science student, Matt Timmons-Brown won a scholarship from the UK Naval Engineering, Science and Technology (UKNEST) forum.

2021 Minerva Informatics Equality Award goes to EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems won the sixth edition of the Minerva Informatics Equality Award. This year’s Minerva Award was presented at a ceremony on 26 October 2021, during the 17th European Computer Science Summit (ECSS 2021), a hybrid event in Madrid and online.

AI spinout offers new route to 5G network management based on research by Paul Patras

Research at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile networking led by Dr Paul Patras has helped shape a new spinout from the University of Edinburgh which promises to drastically reduce the need for expensive hardware and computing resources that 5G providers use to meet the service requirements of their customers.

Informatics researchers raise privacy concerns about data sharing on Android phones

Dr Paul Patras and his student, Haoyu Liu, collaborated with Prof. Doug Leith from Trinity College Dublin to investigate levels of data collection and information sharing from a range of popular mobile phones.

Informatics work towards drought prediction model accepted for ICML workshop

Pavlos Andreadis and three 4th year students: Calum McMeekin, Christoph Minixhofer, Mark Swan, authored a paper which takes a significant step towards a global drought prediction model and enables future such research by creating the first dataset and models for drought prediction across the Continental USA. The paper was accepted for inclusion in the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) 2021 Workshop on Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning.

Informatics study into emoji skin tone finds no negative effect on user perception

Alexander Robertson led a study exploring the connection between identity signals and beliefs when considering the skin tone of an emoji against factual truth. The research is a continuation of previous work showing that Twitter users use skin-toned emoji as an act of self-representation to express racial/ethnic identity.

Ajitha Rajan awarded Royal Society Industrial Fellowship

Ajitha Rajan has been awarded a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship. The fellowship will start in March 2022 and will fund Ajitha to spend time tackling industrially relevant problems with industry partners for two years.

Informatics student presents at NeuroMONSTER 2021 conference

Master of Informatics student, Jerry Zhao, gave a presentation on ‘Self-organising deep recurrent neural networks for behaviour control’, a project collaboration with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics student, Billy Lyons, and supervisor Dr Michael Herrmann at NeuroMONSTER 2021 conference. The project suggests control of behaviour brain function is incomplete unless accompanied by observation and evaluation from motor actions.

Jane Hillston receives Royal Society of Edinburgh Lord Kelvin Medal

Jane Hillston has been awarded the RSE Lord Kelvin Medal for her work, including developing the first compositional framework for the quantitative analysis of systems. This pioneering work has had widespread applications in engineered and natural systems.

EUFS AI Team win ADS Class Competition at Formula Student UK 2021

The University’s Formula Student AI team gain an overall Autonomous Driving System (ADS) victory at Silverstone, and an all time best result of 21st in Formula Student Class.

RSE Saltire Early Career Fellowship recipient joins Diego Oyarzun at the School of Informatics

Marielle Péré from the University of Edinburgh is one of 19 PhD students to receive a Saltire Early Career Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Research paper by Informatics student accepted for OpenSym 2021 conference

A research paper ‘Extracting and Visualizing User Engagement on Wikipedia Talk Pages’ authored by Carlin MacKenzie, BSc Computer Science student at the School of Informatics, alongside Dr John R. Hott from the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been accepted for the OpenSym 2021 conference.

Paper by Sharon Goldwater and former Informatics student receives ISCA Award

Sharon Goldwater and her former PhD student, Herman Kamper, have been awarded the ISCA Award for the Best Research Paper published in Computer Speech and Language for their paper: 'A segmental framework for fully-unsupervised large-vocabulary speech recognition'.

Informatics academics appointed as Turing Fellows in 2021-22

Congratulations to four new Turing Fellows from the School of Informatics. We are also pleased to see a number of fellows returning for the 2021-22 academic year.

Informatics graduate's contribution to tackling the global medical equipment supply problem

Nikolas Pilavakis, a summer research intern with the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science and this year’s MInf (Master of Informatics) graduate, contributed to a collaborative university-NHS-industry project that evidenced the potential of flexible manufacturing for future emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Lessons learned from the project are presented in a paper published in a special issue of Frontiers in Medical Technology.

Mirella Lapata will teach machines to reason

Mirella Lapata was appointed one of the first Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellows to conduct ground-breaking work on Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) biggest challenges. The fellowship comes with £3.9 million from UKRI to set up Edinburgh Laboratory for Integrated Artificial Intelligence (ELIAI). The new research centre will work towards developing a new class of neural network models and a theoretical framework which explains what it means for neural network models to reason.

Informatics study suggests that yellow emojis are not neutral symbols of identity

Alexander Robertson led a study that suggests text messages and social media posts that contain yellow emojis are seen as having been written by White people, a study suggests.

The School of Informatics joins the TestEd project

Informatics staff and research students can support efforts to combat Covid-19 from their workplace.

Informatics students and staff give their time to the Turing Trust

This year students and staff in the School of Informatics celebrated Volunteer’s Week by helping our official school charity, the Turing Trust, to pack computer kits to be sent to students in Malawi.

Members of SLMC Group in the semi-finals of $10M ANA AvatarX Prize

Dr Vladimir Ivan (lead roboticist) and Professor Sethu Vijayakumar (scientific advisor) from Statistical Learning and Motor Control Group group, as part of the AvatarX team led by an Edinburgh startup Touchlab, qualified for the semifinals of the Avatar XPrize.

Edinburgh researchers provide data analysis for a cancer study that revealed weak spots in chemotherapy-resistant cells

Diego Oyarzún and doctoral student Denise Thiel are co-authors of a PNAS paper led by Imperial College scientists that explores ‘weak spots' in cancer cells recovering from chemotherapy.

Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science student in the finals of Future CFO of the Year competition

Alistair Tait, 1st-year student of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science placed in the final of Future CFO of the Year category of the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards.

COVIBOT project examines doctors' perception of robots helping out during the pandemic

Professor Subramanian Ramamoorthy and his collaborators on the COVIBOT project looked into whether healthcare professionals are likely to accept being supported by robots to overcome hazards and risks related to COVID-19 transmission control.

SPARKLE algorithm in a race to make health trackers, smart locks and baby monitors safer

Vesselin Velichkov and his collaborators are in the final of a race to solve the encryption problem in very small electronic devices such as smart locks, health trackers or baby monitors. Velichkov is a co-designer (with partners at the University of Luxembourg and INRIA, Paris) of the algorithm SPARKLE, shortlisted in the standardisation process for new lightweight cryptographic algorithms organised by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). From 56 submissions, 10 have been shortlisted after two years of public evaluation.

First year Computer Science student wins a poster competition with her insight into emotion AI

Purvi Harwani, first year Computer Science student won the first year student poster contest at the annual BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium for her poster "Hey Siri, I don’t feel too good!"

Undergraduate students to present winning app at Google’s Demo Derby Week

Following their win at Hack 4 the People George Karabassis, Eve Bogomil and Adrien Zier will present their “personal face mask consultant” app at the Google Cloud Demo Derby Week.

Informatics researchers use smart meters to revolutionise independent living for people with disabilities and older people

Ground-breaking trial led by Dr. Lynda Webb uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to monitor energy usage patterns.

Success for Informatics students at the EUSA Student Awards

The Sense of Belonging Award was presented to undergraduate student Michael Andrejczuk and the University's Women in STEM society, whose president is Informatics student Sarah Lappin.

Royal Society honours Informatics academics

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has made School of Informatics Professors Aggelos Kiayias and Chris Williams fellows of the prestigious organisation.

Hands Off! Barbara Webb and colleagues report that human hands are not required to do clever things

Professor of Biorobotics Barbara Webb collaborates with University of St Andrews colleagues to find out how animals perform skillful tasks.

Elham Kashefi named Margaret Intrapreneur Europe in prestigious awards

Professor in Quantum Computing Elham Kashefi has won a les Margaret Award, an honour that recognises women who are changing the world and is supported by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Chancellor's Fellowships awarded to Informatics researchers Michele Ciampi and Andrea Weisse

Drs. Michele Ciampi and Andrea Weisse have been awarded Chancellor's Fellowships to support their innovative research.

Sethu Vijayakumar leads Horizon 2020 project using assistive robotics in healthcare

Professor of Robotics Sethu Vijayakumar takes the lead on new Horizon 2020 project Harmony, which will use autonomous robots to enhance the human-centred environments found in healthcare.

Sharon Goldwater and colleagues take a computational approach to understanding how infants learn language

Sharon Goldwater and colleagues use computationally-based modelling to gain deeper understanding of early language acquisition.

ACRC research programme led by Jacques Fleuriot uses AI to enhance health and care

Postgraduate programmes hosted by the University of Edinburgh's Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) and School of Informatics take an interdisciplinary approach to improving later life healthcare.

Undergraduate student kickstarts career in Aerospace with Brooke Owens Fellowship

Fourth-year Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence student Sarah Lappin has been named a Brooke Owens Fellow for 2021, earning a coveted internship in the US Aerospace industry.

Sethu Vijayakumar on how robots could tackle healthcare challenges and save lives

In an article written for The Scotsman Professor of Robotics Sethu Vijayakumar discusses how the latest advances in robotics have the potential to solve some of the greatest challenges in healthcare today.

Digital hub supported by Maria Wolters offers vital service to homeless community

An online service to improve support for people who are currently experiencing or are at risk of homelessness has been developed by researchers and community partners.

Prewired co-founded by Informatics' Ewan Klein secures funding to take Coding Club online

Prewired have obtained funding from Creative Informatics to take one of Scotland’s longest running coding clubs for young people online.

Andy Gordon and Gordon Plotkin Appointed Fellows of ACM

Andy Gordon and Gordon Plotkin have been awarded Fellowship of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the leading educational and scientific computing society in the world.

IoT Education Kit compiled by Paul Patras now available via Arm University Program

Paul Patras has designed and compiled an education kit introducing students to key concepts in the area of Internet of Things (IoT), which is available through the Arm University Program.

Undergraduate Student becomes the First Rwandan to be Awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Billy Byiringiro has been selected as this year's Rhodes scholar for the East Africa region, the first Rwandan to win the prestigious award.

Fiona McNeill Awarded Principal’s Medal for Helping Students Adapt to Hybrid Teaching

Reader in Computer Science Education Fiona McNeill named one of the recipients of the Principal’s Medal for her course helping first-year students connect with each other and adapt to hybrid teaching.