School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

4 July 2011


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Another Farewell!

We also said farewell last week to Len Freeman who has been in the University since October 1976! Our very best wishes to Len for his future, which I believe is going to include a substantial amount of golf, and our sincere thanks to him for all his contributions to the University and the School over the years.


On Friday 1 July the School ran the 4th annual Animation11 Film Festival and Inspirational Computer Science Day, at the Martin Harris Centre, here on campus. We welcomed over 350 schoolchildren, teachers and parents  from all over the UK, making this event the highight of our Public Engagement programme. Afternoon activities included a superb talk on Animation in Games from Fred Gill of Electronic Arts, a talk on stereo vision from Steve Pettifer and Dave Thorne, and two rooms of hands-on workshop activities, the highlight for many people being Ben Blundell's "Only Kinect" installation (see Photos and a video of the day will be published soon. Sincere thanks to our generous sponsors Electronic Arts, Google and The Granada Foundation, and a huge thank-you to all the team running the competition. Next up... Animation12! -- Toby Howard

Reminder: School Best Thesis Prize - Call for Nominations                               

Each year, we award a prize for best PhD thesis.  Apart from obviously being good for the student's CV, the hope is that among the nominations will be a future BCS Distinguished Dissertation Winner.


Last year, we had no submissions, and the School Best Thesis Prize was subsequently not awarded.  It would be a real shame to do so again this year.  So far we have had 1 submission.  I urge you to consider your students who have viva'd in the past 12 months - details on how to submit (via Janet Boyd) are below.

Gavin Brown


This is a reminder that the deadline for nominations is 15 July 2011.

Each year, the School awards a prize for the best PhD thesis awarded
during the previous year. Since 2005, the School has synchronized the
internal submission and School award process with the annual calendar
for the CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations Award, so that the best
submission to the School prize may be submitted to the CHPC/BCS
competition if it is sufficiently good. More details can be found

In general, eligible PhDs have been awarded between January 1, 2010 and
the present, by people registered in the School of Computer Science, who
submitted on time (within four years).

To nominate, please send the following supporting evidence to Janet Boyd
by Tuesday, 1 March 2011:


  1. A electronic (PDF) copy of the thesis.
  2. Written justification of perhaps 300 words by one of the examiners -
    preferably the external - explaining the dissertation's claim to
  3. The names and contact details of at least two suggested reviewers
    from outside the School who are independent of the supervision and
    examining of the thesis, and who have explicitly agreed to provide a
    review upon request by the BCS.
  4. Any other material available as evidence of merit and impact (e.g.,
    papers that are directly related to the results
    in the dissertation - with acceptance rate/impact factor, if possible,
    for, resp., conference and journals - esteem indicators such as
    invited research seminars/research visits, etc.).

Janet Boyd



Recent event: Beyond the PhD: Academia vs Industry

On Friday 17th of June the academic event “Beyond the PhD: Academia vs Industry” was held in IT 407, School of Computer Science. The event was organised by the Mentors of the School and involved a panel discussion between the following invited people from industry and academia:


Dr. Matt Horsnell – Research Engineer at ARM

Dr. Ugo Ekweozor – Solution Analyst at Computer Sciences Corporation

Dr. Daniel Owen – IBM (Manchester)

Prof Ulrike Sattler – Professor, University of Manchester

Dr Barry Cheetham – Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester

Dr Simon Harper - Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester


The floor was open to questions and many topics were touched during the discussion some of which were:

- the usefulness of a PhD degree when choosing a career path in academia and industry

- differences and similarities between research in academia and research in industry

- challenges in research


You can watch videos of the event here. More information and photos from the event will be added in Mentor’s webpage.


British National Conference on Databases                                      11-14 July 11

The school will be hosting the 28th British National Conference on Databases (BNCOD), and associated workshop on Teaching, Learning, and Assessment of Databases (TLAD), from 11th to 14th July. BNCOD is a forum for discussing original research in the theory and practice of database systems, and attracts an international audience to discuss the leading research topics of the day in the field of data, information and knowledge management. The theme of BNCOD 2011 will be "Linked Data" with keynotes from Professor Christian Bizer from the Free University of Berlin, and Professor Karl Aberer from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. For more information and full details of the programme please see


We invite members of the school to join us. However, spaces for all sessions are limited so we ask that you contact us on to reserve a seat by Thursday 7th July. Confirmation of your allocation will be sent on Friday 8th July.

Emerging Technologies                                                                             15 July 11

The University GPU Club Presents:

Prof. Jack Dongarra speaking on Emerging Technologies

14:00, John Casken theatre, Martin Harris Centre


Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are fast becoming an option for undertaking intensive computational research without having to buy expensive computers with fast interconnects. The 100+ people at each University GPU Club pays testament to the interest in this area, but what are the barriers to using GPUs for High End Computing (HEC) and how will we overcome them?


GPU technology isn't standing still. Chip manufacturers are looking at combining elements of traditional CPUs, memory and GPUs, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are in re-ascendence and research abounds in the hardware architecture field.  Hardware is only part of the issue: how to program new hardware efficiently will increasingly be key.

More information

Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies, National Contact Point visit – 18th August

The EU Office have arranged for the National Contact Point for the FP7 theme ‘NMP’ (Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies) Dr Alastair McGibbon from the TSB,  to come to Manchester on 18th August to present the 2012 NMP work programme following the summer calls in July.  Please note that Liz Fay will shortly be advertising the time and venue of the event.

The formal presentation should take no longer than a couple of hours during which time Dr McGibbon will give more detail and some insider knowledge on the requirements of the specific calls.  This session should prove invaluable for EPS staff wishing to engage in this round of calls.

Dr McGibbon has said that following the presentation he will be happy to meet with staff already engaged, or wishing to engage, in research in the areas covered by the NMP calls either over lunch or at some point later in the afternoon.

Could you please let Vicki Holt ( know by 13th July if you wish to:


  1. Attend the lecture
  2. Attend the lecture and wish to register an interest in a potential meeting with Dr McGibbon either over lunch or after the lecture (obviously Dr McGibbon’s availability for these meetings will depend on the level of interest so it may wise for interested groups to pick a representative/s)


Funding Opportunities

ERC 2012 Work Programme                                                                          Various

Link (csonly) to a draft of the ERC 2012 Work Programme which is due to be published next month. It outlines the details for 4 expected ERC calls:

  • Starting Grants (Oct 2011deadline)
  • Advanced Grants (Feb to Apr 2012 deadlines depending on subject)
  • Proof of Concept awards (deadline May to Oct 2012 - for current ERC holders only I think)
  • A new scheme called "ERC+ Grants" to bring together PIs with complementary skills/knowlege to address problems of frontier research (deadline Jan 2012).


As this is a draft document please treat its content with caution and do not circulate beyond the University.