School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

 23 Sep 2013


News from HoS

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News from the Head of School

The School’s new IT infrastructure for teaching, developed over the summer by the CSIS team, staff from the Faculty IS team and staff from the School is up and running! This has been a huge task, spread over 12 months, with many people working intensively throughout the summer. The change should mean that CSIS can manage the system more easily in future, which will enable them to spend more time on other essential support for the School. Thanks to everyone involved in making this happen.

Rogues Gallery has become TACTUS

You might have noticed that the yellowing photos of staff in their prime have vanished. They have been replaced by a touchscreen system (TACTUS) that is located in the Lower First floor of Kilburn. TACTUS contains more than just realistic staff photos – there are many other delights for you to find. TACTUS is the work of two vacation students, Miso Zmiric (supervised by Gavin Brown) who did most of the work for the touchscreens, and Nancy Fitzgerald (supervised by Allan Ramsay) who hunted down staff over the summer to take their photos. There will eventually be six TACTUS systems distributed around the building. If you had a photo on the wall and you would like to keep it (or ensure that it is destroyed), you can collect yours from ACSO.


If you would like to make use of the space on the walls where the photos used to be, please contact Tony McDonald or Allan Ramsay.


TACTUS is a platform for students to develop apps and there will be a hackathon later in the term to help make that happen.

Learning Enrichment Fund

The touchscreens for TACTUS were part funded by the Learning Enrichment Fund, an annual University fund for projects that enhance the student experience. If you can think of anything that could be funded that would improve things for students, please take a look at the fund (details here) and have a go.

Raspberry Pi 1st year labs

All first year students have been issued with a free Raspberry Pi computer, and LF31 has been equipped to provide power and simple keyboard/mouse/display connections. Raspberry Pis will be used for initial linux teaching, providing an environment in which students can manage their own machine, install software, and generally play. In order to ensure that systems can be recovered from the inevitable disasters, students are also being taught version control from the start of the first year using Git. This should encourage better software engineering practice throughout the programme. To take a look at what students do in COMP10120 take a look at the (nearly complete) lab script.  

New secondary school curriculum

The final version of the statutory computing curriculum for schools in England has been published. If the transformation of IT into CS in secondary education  succeeds it will mean that all secondary school students will have some understanding of what Computer Science is, and if it is taught well it should increase the numbers that want to study CS at university. In time it may enable us to make A-level CS a requirement for joining our degree programmes. If you would like to help the School support this change in secondary schools please contact David Ryderheard for more information.

Arcade is 20

Arcade has been in use in the School for 20 years. Although it has evolved a lot since its first incarnation, the fact that we are still using it is a testament to how far in advance it was at the time that it was created.

has been launched!


667 schools registered for Animation 13 and we received 1,120 entries from 154 schools. Animation 14 is expected to be even more successful. If you haven’t been involved in Animation before but would like to experience the buzz of school students realising that CS can be exciting, and even fun, contact Toby Howard.


App wins 2013 Care Integration Award!

An app developed by Steve Pettifer, in conjunction with Angel & Bowden and NHS Trafford, has won the 2013 Care Integration Award in the Musculoskeletal Care category. The iPad app was developed last year as part of the Musculoskeletal care plan for patients with back/ neck pain, called Community MSK Pain Management (p.30); the app provides a form of self-help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for understanding and managing back/neck pain.

Funding opportunities

Amongst a host of other opportunities, details of the Faculty Strategic Fund and the 2014 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship scheme (deadline 30th September) are included below.

Retirements coming up

Barry Cheetham will be retiring on 30th September and Alasdair Rawsthorne will be retiring on 30th October.




Egencia and travel notice to all staff

The University preferred supplier for all travel and accommodation booking is Egencia.  We are bound by the University to always use Egencia unless there are circumstances where we cannot.  Due to these constraints, we will still book travel through the system even if we receive quotes from other travel websites.  Fortunately the Procurement office agreed with Egencia that prices must be matched if they are found on another site but there are strict rules regarding price matching.  Please be aware that there are often hidden fees for credit card payments etc on other sites, for example Opodo.


How to get the best price and efficient (quick) booking


Once you know what you need please email to advise us.  Try to do this at least three weeks before your travel date.

We will send you an email which allows you to upload your profile to Egencia which includes your passport details, full name etc.

Please be prompt and provide the information we ask for in our emails to ensure we can book your requests as quickly as possible.

Once you have a profile you can go into the Egencia system and find flights or accommodation yourself, then email us to advise what you have found.


Reason for travel


…not because we are nosey!


This information is a requirement by the University.  In the event that the account is audited all expenditure must be accounted for.  Please provide the name of conference etc, rather than ‘Attending an international conference’.


Thank you all for your help.

We need your up-to-date research project descriptions!

For research academics…Get the right PhD students for your research by making sure that prospective research students know about the projects that you have to offer. We need a full set of up-to-date project descriptions for and our own website. Please contact Matthew Harrison in External Affairs with your current project descriptions at your earliest convenience.

UMIP contact                                                                                                                      

Our Computer Science UMIP contact is now Dan Syder. If you have any intellectual property (IP) questions or ideas on commercialising your research, UMIP can help.

Support and funding is available to help with the exploitation of research, e.g. licensing software.

UMIP work with academics to:

  1. Assess research for commercial applications
  2. Confirm Intellectual Property status
  3. Provide PATHFUNDER FUNDING (£5k) to market research activity, confirming industry-need
  4. Provide PROOF OF PRINCIPLE (PoP) FUNDING (£70k) to typically cover 12 month’s work for a RA, to meet the key technical challenge
  5. Assess the PoP for potential further funding or spin out company formation



LMS "Computer Science Day" on Mathematics Research Beyond the Blackboard                                                                                                       29 Oct 13

The London Mathematical Society annual "Computer Science Day" is on the topic of “Mathematics Research Beyond the Blackboard”. The colloquium will take place at the London Mathematical Society on Tuesday 29 October, and all interested mathematicians and computer scientists are welcome to come. Some funds are available to help with travel costs of PhD students.


Speakers include:

John Harrison (Intel Corporation) “Computer  proofs, where we are and where we are going“

Nick Trefethen (University of Oxford) “Numerical computation with functions instead of numbers”

Professor Ursula Martin CBE (Queen Mary, University of London) “Mathematical practice, crowdsourcing, and social machines”

Steve Linton (University of St Andrews)”Experiment and Exploration in Algebra and Combinatorics”

More information

EPS Investment Showcase                                                                        12 Nov 13

12-15:00, Innovation Centre on Grafton Street.


Find out more about what Proof of Principle funding may do for you at the EPS Investment Showcase, which brings together spin out entrepreneurs from early stage projects to AIM listed companies to discuss their experiences. Speakers include John McArthur, CEO, Tracsis Plc, the spin-out from Leeds School of Computing that developed the software package (TrainTRACS), which is now used by 14 out of the 20 train operating companies to plan work schedules for their crews and drivers.


Funding Opportunities

Research Support Office

Please contact us through

There is information about support for grant writing and submission at and the EPS blog The Word contains features News, Events and comment relevant to Postgraduate Researchers, Research Staff and Supervisors or PIs.

SAVE THE DATE - Space Applications Themed Call for KTPs - PreCall Awareness Event                                                                                         18 Sept 13

The Technology Strategy Board are holding an information event aimed at KTP Offices and academics on Wednesday 18th September at the Satellite Applications Catapult at Harwell to raise awareness of a forthcoming Space Applications themed call for KTPs, which we hope will open later this autumn.


The event agenda will cover information about the background to the proposed call and proposed scope, an introduction to KTP and will also include the opportunity to find out more about the Satellite Applications Catapult and what it does.

For more information contact Caroline Stanton in the Knowledge Exchange office.

Sustainable Society Network+ research placements call                  25 Sep 13

Applicants are invited to apply for funding for research placements from the RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DE) Sustainable Society Network+ (SSN+) in 2 areas:


·         Metrics for Smart, Sustainable Cities

Duration: 3 months at GSMA, London

This placement would allow privileged access to an excellent source of data for scholars trying to develop a research agenda in evolving metrics associated with the creation of smart, sustainable cities using mobile technologies.


·         City Operations Centre

Duration: 1.5 months at Ericsson, Stockholm.

This placement would allow privileged access to an excellent source of data for those trying to develop a research agenda in understanding the silos associated with the development of a smart city operations centre.


Placements are targeted at researchers eligible for funding under the RCUK scheme and can take place in commercial or government entities in the UK or overseas (e.g. industry, academia, research centres, public bodies, NGOs).

Assessment panels for both schemes are due early Oct 2013 and start dates are negotiable for both schemes. Please note different placement durations and locations.

Microsoft 2014 Fellowships                                                           30 September 13

Microsoft Research is inviting nominations for its 2014 Faculty Fellowship program, starting on August 28, 2013. This program recognizes and supports exceptional early-career faculty engaged in innovative computing research. The objective is to stimulate and support the research of promising individuals who have the potential to make a profound impact on the state-of-the-art in their research disciplines and to become future thought leaders.  Each fellowship award includes a cash gift that is intended to help fund research activities for up to two years.


The winners of the 2014 faculty fellowship awards will be announced at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond in July 2014. Note that only one (1) application will be accepted per research institution (e.g. one from Manchester University, all departments included).  The potential Fellows for the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program must be nominated by their research institution, and their nominations must be confirmed by a letter from the head of the institution (e.g., office of the Provost, Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor, President, Rector, Vice-Rector, and so on). Direct applications from new faculty members are not accepted. Please pay particular attention to the eligibility criteria.


Nominations and application deadline: September 30, 2013.


Nominations are to be submitted online at:


For eligibility criteria and instructions please visit:

NRI PhD Studentships                                                                                    8 Oct 13

·         Closing date: midnight 8 Oct 2013


The Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI) has funding for two 3 year PhD studentships, commencing in September 2014. The studentships must cover a NRI research theme (details in attached), which include computational neuroscience and neuroimaging. The proposed timetable is to advertise 4-6 projects in November and interviews will take place in early January.

UMRI Pump Priming Programme                                                               18 Oct 13

The University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) has funding available to support activities that lead to an increase in successful interdisciplinary research (not preliminary data work). Applications should be £10k - £50k and should aim to support and pump-prime new interdisciplinary research programmes which seek to release synergies between existing clusters of excellence. £50k awards are unusual.

Proposals should be up to 6 months in duration and completed by 31 July 2014.

Applications (2 page outline) should be submitted by email to by 18 October 2013 with:

  • The title of the proposed project
  • A short description of the proposed project
  • Details of the interdisciplinary aspects of the project, to include details of project partners
  • Details of the likely outcomes and/or outputs from the project
  • A breakdown of the costs of the project
  • The longer-term goals of the project. What future funding sources will you approach?

2013 EPS Faculty Strategic Fund - Colin Bailey                                    18 Oct 13

In line with the Faculty’s long-term strategic plan we continue to develop, and maintain, a small strategic fund to further support research and teaching activities across the Faculty.  Proposals in the following areas, which align with the Faculty’s strategic plan, are welcome.


Proposals for Pump-Priming Research.

Proposals are sought for ‘pump-priming’ research projects of up to £10K that fit with the strategic research priorities of the Faculty and Schools.  The project, which needs to be completed by the end of July 2014, must lead to the development of a full research proposal which will be submitted to a relevant funding organisation.


Proposals for Teaching Equipment

Proposals are sought for enhancing our teaching equipment/demonstrations/props.  The maximum funding is for £20K.  The proposal must clearly show how the student experience will be enhanced.


Proposals for small-scale research equipment

Proposals are sought for small-scale research equipment, up to £20K, which will enhance our research capability in defined strategic areas.  The proposal must clearly show the added value of the equipment.


Proposals for enhancing our PhD education

Proposals, of up to £10K, are sought for initiatives to enhance our PhD education and student experience across the Faculty.  The proposals should clearly highlight the benefit to a number of PhD students.


Proposals for enhancing the UG and PGT student experience

Proposals, of up to £10K, are sought for enhancing the UG and PGT student experience.  The proposal must clearly show how the student experience will be enhanced.


Proposals to enhance our international agenda

Proposals, of up to £10K, are sought for enhancing our international agenda across the Faculty. 


How to submit a proposal

All proposals must be submitted to Colin Bailey ( by 18th October 2013.  Proposals should be limited to a maximum of 2 pages.  The number of proposals approved will depend on available funds and alignment to strategic plans.  All projects must be completed by the end of July 2014.

Impact Acceleration Account (IAA)                                                            23 Oct 13

·         Closing date: noon 23 Oct 2013

EPSRC has awarded The University of Manchester over £3.2M to deliver an Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), which runs from 2012-15 for knowledge exchange based on EPSRC research (following on from the Knowledge Transfer Account).
4th call for proposals is now open for:

·         Relationship Incubation (up to £10k available) Engaging with businesses and business communities to sow the seeds of new collaboration and enhance strategic engagement

·         Concept Development and Feasibility Studies (up to £30k available) Support for the very early stages of transforming research outputs into commercial opportunities

·         Exploitation Secondments (up to £60k available) Flexible support for secondments between The University of Manchester and businesses and other organisations





Both Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer have been successful in previous calls.

British Academy Skills Acquisition Awards                                            30 Oct 13

For Early Career Academics… The British Academy is providing up to £10k support for early career scholars to spend time on specific career-enhancing skills acquisition. The scheme enables researchers to spend time with a mentor in a research group specialising in quantitative methods, and will provide some funding to meet the cost of a mentor. In 2012, 20 out of 32 applicants were successful.

Applicants should be early career scholars (normally within ten years of the award of PhD) and in an established academic post.

Applications for this scheme must be submitted via the e-GAP system. Awards available after 1 September 2014 and not later than 1 April 2015. Results will be confirmed in March 2014.

Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship                                     7 Nov 13

·         Closing date: 16:00, 7 Nov 2013


Good for ‘discipline-hopping’…Through the Leverhulme Trust’s International Academic Fellowship, established researchers can spend a concentrated period (3-12 months) based in one or more research centres outside the UK to develop new knowledge, skills and ideas, in research and teaching (not just pure research).

Up to £30k is available for reasonable replacement cover; travel to and within the overseas country or countries; a maintenance grant to meet the increased expense of living overseas; and essential research costs. Fellowships must commence between 1 June 2014 and 1 May 2015.


Research Professional is a useful search engine for finding other funding opportunities.


Featured Research Outcomes

Research presented at Java Language Summit

Chris Seaton (supervisors: Ian Watson and Mikel Lujan) presented his research last month in Santa Clara at the Java Language Summit with Christian Wimmer (Oracle). The research is the result of a six-month internship with Oracle Lab's Virtual Machine Research Group in California, which worked on implementing the Ruby programming language using the next generation of JVM compiler technology. The research produced a system that is not only significantly faster than any other implementation, but is also significantly simpler and demonstrably as complete as some other implementations.

JVM slides ‘One VM to Rule Them All’ and a video are available.


Have we missed something? If you have some award news that you would like us to know about please contact Sarah Chatwin.