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  • Department of CS newsletter

    Published: Thursday, 23 January 2020

    Weekly newsletter for the Department of CS

    [ top ]Events

    Advances in Data Science Conference 2020 - Save the date!

    Event: 22-23 June 2020 (Hilton, Manchester Deansgate)

    We are very please to announce the dates and venue for our 2020 Advances in Data Science Conference! More details on our line-up of speakers and how to purchase tickets will be available soon via

    For information on what to expect here's the link to the 2019 conference:

    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    Atlas Talk: The Reachability Problem for Petri Nets is Not Elementary

    Join us of our next Computer Science Atlas Talk with speaker Ranko Lazic on Wednesday 5 February 2020 in Kilburn L.T 1.5 at 1pm

    Host: Ian Pratt-Hartmann

    Petri nets, also known as vector addition systems, are a long established model of concurrency with extensive applications in modelling and analysis of hardware, software and database systems, as well as chemical, biological and business processes. The central algorithmic problem for Petri nets is reachability: whether from the given initial con?guration there exists a sequence of valid execution steps that reaches the given ?nal con?guration. The complexity of the problem has remained unsettled since the 1960s, and it is one of the most prominent open questions in the theory of veri?cation. Decidability was proved by Mayr in his seminal STOC 1981 work, and the currently best published upper bound is non-primitive recursive Ackermannian of Leroux and Schmitz from LICS 2019. We establish a non-elementary lower bound, i.e. that the reachability problem needs a tower of exponentials of time and space. Until this work, the best lower bound has been exponential space, due to Lipton in 1976. The new lower bound is a major breakthrough for several reasons. Firstly, it shows that the reachability problem is much harder than the coverability (i.e., state reachability) problem, which is also ubiquitous but has been known to be complete for exponential space since the late 1970s. Secondly, it implies that a plethora of problems from formal languages, logic, concurrent systems, process calculi and other areas, that are known to admit reductions from the Petri nets reachability problem, are also not elementary. Thirdly, it makes obsolete the currently best lower bounds for the reachability problems for two key extensions of Petri nets: with branching and with a pushdown stack.

    Joint work with Wojciech Czerwinski, Slawomir Lasota, Jerome Leroux and Filip Mazowiecki.

    gravatar Karon Mee

    [ top ]PGR News

    Welcome to the Next Decade! Free Pizza and Drinks Friday 24th!

    The mentors invite to Pizza and Drinks on Friday, 24th at 16:30 in the Common room!
    Come, and say hi to the new Cohort of PhD students in a relaxing atmosphere over some pizza and drinks. Non alcoholic options as well as standard/vegetarian/vegan/halal/lactose-free available. 
    gravatar Simon Harper

    [ top ]Research Funding Opportunities

    Funding opportunity

    The deadline for our current round of Feasibility Studies is Monday 20th January at 5pm. Please get your application in on time as late applications cannot be accepted. Please note that your proposal must be submitted as a word document (not PDF).

    More details are at:

    Connected Everything (CEII) is looking to fund its first round of feasibility studies. Projects can be between 6 and 12 months in length, and should complete before the end of June 2021. We are looking to fund up to five projects of up to a maximum value of £60,000 at full Economic Cost (fEC), with funding to be awarded at 80% fEC.

    gravatar Karon Mee

    Reminder: UKRI Trustworthy Autonymous Systems - Research Nodes Call

    Deadline for outline: 20-Feb-20
    Deadline for full proposal 18-Jun-20

    Webinar slides now available.
    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) invites outline proposals for the research nodes as part of the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems programme. Up to £20.5 million (at 80% fEC) funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), is available to support seven research nodes (approximately £3 million UKRI contribution each) for 42 months, starting from 1 October 2020 (fixed start date). Each node will focus on one of the following research topics: trust, responsibility, resilience, security, functionality, verifiability and governance & regulation. Please note that the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems programme is being delivered in two discrete, interconnected parts, the coordination Hub and seven research nodes. Information on the Hub call can be found here.
    The nodes will be separate entities connected to the Hub and they will be expected to collaborate broadly with other nodes, the Hub and the wider autonomous systems community.
    Please note that this is a cross-UKRI programme, and it is expected that applications will be multidisciplinary, led by and involving any discipline from across the UKRI portfolio.
    A two-stage application process will be used in this call. The first stage requires the applicants to submit an outline proposal. Successful outline applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    Digital Trust and Security in Healthcare Workshop

    On Wednesday 8th January, Digital Futures hosted a workshop with participants from NHSX, NHS Digital, Health Innovation Manchester, the National Cyber Security Centre, researchers from the UoM DT&S and Health & Care themes, and Imperial College London Global Health Institute.

    Four potential joint pilot projects were developed; the next stage is to fund a subset of these to build relationships in preparation for a large funding bid. The DT&S theme is also supporting the H&C Digital Economy Centre bid (CATHODE).
    The DT&S Theme is putting a small amount of funding towards these seedcorn projects. There is still scope to become involved in this work - contact

    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    UoM Public Engagement (PE) Wellcome ISSF Public Engagement Funding

    Deadline: 16 March 2020 9am

    There are 3 grant schemes which are open to academic staff, post-docs, PS staff and postgraduate students (PhD and PGT) from every faculty. We strongly support cross-faculty and interdisciplinary working.
    ·         Emerging Engagement: if you are new to public engagement – you can apply for up to £500
    ·         Established Engagement: if you already have experience of public engagement - you can apply for up to £3000 (match funding required)
    ·         Professional Development: if you want to develop your skills in public engagement - you can apply for up to £2000
    The purpose of this funding is to facilitate imaginative, high quality and inclusive public engagement which reaches new and diverse audiences. 

    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    DSTL Digital Forensics Research on new devices and novel features

    EoI: before 03-Feb-20
    DSTL deadline: 19-Feb-20

    The aim of this requirement is to fund several short (3 to 4 months) work packages with more than one Contractor. We are looking to place multiple tasks as opposed to just one Contract.
    These work packages will consist of investigations into the forensic data that could be recovered from novel devices or software, and how that data could be used. The findings of these pieces of research would be summarised by the Authority/Dstl and the summary published as advice to a very broad range of stakeholders including, but not limited to, UK Government groups, Law Enforcement, International Parties, Industry and Academia.
    The research should target new devices, or new functionality of devices and software, that are likely to be encountered at a crime scene. The onus is on the potential Contractor to make clear why the novel element they propose studying is of relevance to an investigation. The work should produce a well-documented approach to extracting information relevant to that feature or device, such that another practitioner could reproduce the findings.
    Example topics might include an investigation of a new Smart Speaker device or a new function introduced in the latest Windows/Android/iOS operating system.
    Contact for full information.

    Cyber Essentials Plus
    It is important to note that DSTL projects may require Cyber Essentials Plus certification and this cost needs to be factored into any bid. For more information about the cost of CE Plus certification please contact Research IT.

    Staff Rates
    We have a framework agreement with regard to staff costs with DSTL and so you will need to request a copy of the rates for costing purposes should your academic community be interested in this call. This is sensitive information and so we will not be emailing it out to the list.

    Submission is via DSTL’s R-Cloud system and relevant research services colleagues need to contact us for login details if a bid is to be submitted.  The university can only submit once per call via the R-Cloud system but multiple bids can be incorporated into one submission.


    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    New BBC Internships available with the Datalab team

    Deadline for applications: 07-Feb-20
    Date of internship: June - September 2020

    BBC audiences expect the best content to be available to them in a single place, personalised to their preferences and interests. Datalab was formed to address these issues, by creating a simpler way to discover content. We are doing this by bringing all of our data together into one place, and by using machine learning to enrich it. As we do this, we become able to match our multimedia content with individuals’ interests and context.  
    The aim of the internship is for the chosen candidate to explore experimental and “high-risk” research ideas that address problems encountered by the BBC, using machine learning. Areas of interest include in particular :
    1. Recommendation Model Development:
    o investigate new approaches  to improving the performance of our recommendation models and
    o can we use recent state of the art recommendation approaches (e.g. reinforcement learning,  variational auto-encoders)?
    2. Recommendation Model Evaluation:
    o Investigate new ways of evaluating the performance of our recommendation models.
    o How can we measure develop or combine existing low-level metrics to derive measures that are more meaningful to a public service organisation like the BBC?
    o How can we meaningfully connect offline evaluation metrics to online behaviour of our users?
    3. Ethical AI: Explore new ways to understand the ethical impact of our algorithms.
    o Can we measure bias in our datasets that lead to our algorithms treating different audience segments (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, religion) inappropriately? How can we address this?
    o How do we make our algorithms more transparent and explainable to those who use them?
    Chosen candidates will be embedded in the “Datascapes” sub-team that is responsible for recommendation services for all text-based BBC products (News, Sport, and World Service). They will be expected, with the support of their  BBC supervisor, to choose a research project and to present their work both orally to the team and in a written report at the end of their placement. The internship has a stipend of £1500/month.
    Skills required:
    Preferred Current Degree
    • Bachelors (3rd year)/Masters/PhD (computer science or similar)
    Mandatory knowledge/experience:
    • Python programming (experience using the Pycharm IDE ideally)
    Preferred knowledge/experience:
    • Machine learning algorithms (especially those relating to recommendation)
    • Code versioning tools (git/github)
    • Data Science/ML  python packages (e.g. Pandas, numpy, tensorflow, pytorch etc.)
    • Proof-of-concept that indicates whether or not the idea explored should be pursued further.
    • Oral presentation of the project outcome
    • Written report
    If successful, the work by the chosen candidate could potentially be used by BBC services in the future. 
    BBC Design & Engineering, London W12 7TS
    BBC Bristol, BS8 2LR

    For more information and to apply for the internships, please email

    gravatar Sarah Chatwin

    [ top ]Wellbeing

    Be Active classes are now live for 2020

    New Year New you – Be Active have got a great selection of courses for 2020

    To book your place please click the here

    Drop in classes during January 2020

    We are offering drop in classes on a few of our popular sessions at the Wellbeing Rooms Simon Building and the Sackville Street Building H11.

    Please pay the teacher on arrival to the class. To view the schedule please click here



    gravatar Karon Mee

    Peer Support Group for Working Parents - Upcoming event

    The next group lunch-time session (Peer Support Group for Working Parents) will be on January 28th, Tuesday, 12:30-13:30 in C18, George Begg Building.

    This session will be a peer support session in the Faculty, to share unique caring journeys or simply listen to others with empathy. It is a good place to get out of the work with parenting reflections!

    Please save it in your diary and feel free to drop in at any time. Tea and coffee will be provided in B Floor Common Kitchen, please do bring along your packed lunch and your mug.

    gravatar Karon Mee

    Equality and Diversity events

    ‘Time to Talk Day’ which happens on February 6 and you can read more here:

    #AndysManClub The FREE talk takes place on Wednesday 2 February and tickets should be reserved here:

    Learn more via:

    February: LGBT History Month

    The timetable and associated booking links are now all live and you can find out full details here:

    ALLOUT would like to extend the invitation to all other network group colleagues and allies – so please do join in!

    NEW network Group

    Stress at Work Peer Support Group

    Relaunch of Network Group

    The Parents at UoM Peer Support Group replaces the previous Peer Support Group for Staff Returning from Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave.

    Find out more here:


    We are again about to start an ILM 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring
    find out more at:

    Diversity Calendar 2020

    Our Diversity calendar is available to access online via this StaffNet article

    Yoga Class

    Yoga on the Healing Journey - Fridays 12.30-1.15pm (starts 31 Jan)

    St Peter’s House Wholeness Studio. Drop in, donations welcome. More information:





    gravatar Karon Mee

    [ top ]Social Responsibility

    Volunteer for Project Malawi

    Do you have an interest in teaching and volunteering abroad? We are looking to put together a team for Project Malawi 2020.

    Area of interest: Education, International , IT, Science and Technology, Teaching, Training and Coaching, Youth Work and Young People Stellify Award: This opportunity is part of 'Make a Difference'

    For details: Student Volunteering Hub advert:


    gravatar Karon Mee

    gravatar Karon Mee
Generated: Friday, 10 April 2020 11:00:00
Last change: Thursday, 23 January 2020 12:41:37