Department of CS newsletterPublished: Thursday, 19 May 2022
Weekly newsletter for the Department of CS
[ top ]News from Head of Department
Welcome to Anirbit Mukherjee who has joined the Machine Learning and Robotics group as a lecturer. Anirbit completed an undergraduate degree in physics at the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), India and a masters in theoretical physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), India. He did his Ph.D. in the department of applied mathematics and statistics at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), under the guidance of Prof. Amitabh Basu, During his PhD., Anirbit became intrigued by the ongoing rise of deep-learning and went on to prove first-of-its-kind theorems about the neural function space, convergence of RMSProp and ADAM algorithms, provable training of small nets and PAC-Bayes approaches to generalization bounds on neural nets.
Before joining The University of Manchester, Anirbit worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Wharton, the Department of Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. There he started building theory of local elasticity of neural nets and its relationship to the newly uncovered phenomenon of neural collapse. Most recently he is pursuing research on solving differential equations using neural nets, particularly in the direction of building theoretical foundations for Deep Operator Networks. You can find more about his work at his personal site, https://sites.google.com/view/anirbit/home
Welcome to Zahra Montazeri who has joined us as a lecturer in the Human Centred Systems Group. her work focuses on photorealistic rendering and appearance modelling. Currently, she works with Disney Research through consultancy and collaborates with WetaDigital on joint research projects. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine, advised by Shuang Zhao and Professor Henrik Wann Jensen. During her studies, she worked at Pixar Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation and for two years at Luxion (makers of KeyShot). She received her M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine in 2017 and her B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2015, Iran
[ top ]News and announcements
Online H&S Induction for Computer Science
We are restarting our H&S inductions for new staff joining Computer Science. These will be held online via Teams. This is mainly for the benefit of new staff but due to Covid and lockdown if any staff feel they need a refresher then they are welcome to attend too. Please contact CSOps if you did not receive the diary invite and would like to attend, and we will forward you the details. The slides from the session will be added to the Wiki shortly. The session will be delivered by James Fields.
We are having a Summer Bash so we can come together to celebrate. It's been a long, hard time since our last summer do, so we should celebrate together. Please do come and have a beer or a glass of wine and mingle with colleagues and hopefully enjoy the sunshine. We will provide some drinks (both alcoholic and soft) and nibbles and pizza but do bring a bottle too.
This will be Robert's last public appearance as Head of Department – so it’s a special thankyou to Robert for two terms as Head! We have also invited those colleagues who left as lockdown happened as we could not get together - to mark their departure – so we hope they can make it this time
Date: Wednesday 13th July from 4pm (after the Dept Forum)
SSO have now moved out of LF21. The SSO staff will now be based in MECD, Kilburn 2.10 and working from home as follows should you need to speak to them:
Monday - Undergraduate -Team will be in MECD
Postgraduate - Team working from home
Tuesday - Undergraduate - Team will be in Kilburn 2.10
Postgraduate Team - working from home
Wednesday - Undergraduate Team and Postgraduate Team will be in MECD
Thursday - Undergraduate - Team working from home
Postgraduate - Team will be in Kilburn 2.10
Friday - Undergraduate - Team working from home
Postgraduate - Team working in MECD
Students should be sent over to the hub in MECD if they have a query.
The phone number for SSO has also changed to 0161-549-1288
[ top ]Wellbeing
Its very important to have the correct set up for your display screen equipment - to avoid postural problems and strains. There is an online assessment which staff can take to ensure they have the correct set up. Please see more information on the wiki: DSE Information & assessment
[ top ]Events
On June 21st the department will be celebrating two IEEE milestone awards that recognise two major landmarks in computer history in the department.
The two awards are for the “Manchester University 'Baby' Computer and its Derivatives, 1948-1951” and the “Atlas Computer and the Invention of Virtual Memory 1957-1962”. After the unveiling of the commemorative plaques there will be talks describing these two developments and the reasons why they are considered historically important.
Two events will celebrate these awards on the 21st June 2022, the 74th anniversary of the first program run by the Manchester Baby computer. Both events are free.
The afternoon event will take place in the Kilburn Building at the University of Manchester but will also be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person.
During the morning, the replica Baby computer will be demonstrated at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester, by a team of volunteers. There will also be a display of material from the Ferranti archives.
Further information about both events is available on the registration website.
The morning and afternoon events are separate and you can register for either or both of them. We are asking everyone to register in advance because in-person attendance is limited to a total of 80 for the morning sessions and 250 for the afternoon.
Please register for in-person or online attendance at:
Manchester Milestones Event: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ieee-milestone-awards-the-baby-and-atlas-computers-tickets-261168240237
If you are planning to bring a friend or relative who may not have access to email or the Internet, please register them separately using your own email address to receive confirmation of the booking.
Sent on behalf of the organising committee for the event: Roderick Muttram, Simon Lavington, Roland Ibbett, Jim Miles, Matthew Gream.
Enquiries to: Jim.Miles@manchester.ac.uk
[ top ]Research News
Colleagues from across The University in interdisciplinary roles including Institute and Beacon Managers, BE and Comms and Marketing, meet virtually at these Interdisciplinary Research PS Network meetings to hear updates and discuss synergies with colleagues in areas relating to interdisciplinary activity at UoM.
This month we are delighted to announce that our three research platform directors are introducing their respective platforms.
• Professor Chris Taylor, Digital Futures Director
• Professor Mike Shaver, Sustainable Futures Director
• Professor John McAuliffe, Creative Manchester Director
Please complete this survey to hear from our directors.
The North West Partnership for Security and Trust (NWPST) is pleased to invite researchers from all subjects at the universities of Lancaster, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford to attend an online sandpit on Algorithmic Bias. Up to £120K of funding will be made available to fund interdisciplinary projects arising from this sandpit.
A sandpit is a highly interactive brainstorming and networking session that involves participants from different disciplines and backgrounds exploring and developing innovative approaches to a challenge. It is our aim that all participants, including those who do not receive NWPST funds at the end of the Sandpit, will have had a chance to deepen their knowledge of the area, widen their perspectives, make new contacts and come up with new ideas that will stimulate their research and scholarship.
The Research Challenge
The theme of the Sandpit is “Algorithmic Bias”. It is widely recognised that the use of data-driven models for classification and decision making is vulnerable both to the existence of historic prejudicial decision-making reflected in the data, and to the omission of significant communities from the data leading to blind spots in the resulting models. This has the effect both of degrading the accuracy of the classifications and decisions and to the continuation, and in some cases magnification, of injustice. In our sandpit we will co-create innovative interdisciplinary projects to explore aspects of algorithmic bias and its mitigation from technical, social, and socio-technical perspectives.
Some of the questions we might consider include:
- How should we define, conceptualise, identify and assess the existence and extent of algorithmic bias in statistical models?
- How can we articulate, evaluate and mitigate the harms to individuals, communities, organisations and nation states that arise from the use of statistical models that exhibit algorithmic bias?
- What role can technology, people, organisations, governments and societies play in minimising the existence of algorithmic bias in the statistical models of the future?
Expected commitment from participants
The sandpit itself will be run face-to-face. The following events will be associated with the Sandpit – participants are expected to commit to attending all four of the main Sandpit days from 26th-28th September. Other activities are optional.
- Wednesday 8th June, 14:00-15:00: Online Introduction and Q&A session to enable potential applicants to find out more about the proposed Sandpit. Please email NWPST@manchester.ac.uk by 1st June if you are interested in attending this.
- Closing Date for applications: 26th August 2022
- Tuesday 20th September, 14:00-15:00: Online preparatory session to enable participants to make initial contacts, and ask any further questions before the sandpit starts (optional).
- Monday 26th September, 10:00-16:00: Exploring the Challenge Area. (face-to-face).
- Tuesday 27th September, 10:00-16:00: Generation of Initial Ideas. Research teams start to form (face-to-face). Sandpit dinner in the evening (optional).
- Wednesday 28th September, 10:00-16:00: Work in progress presentations and peer and mentor review (face-to-face)
- Friday 7th October, 14:00-16:00: Presentation to the Funding Panel (virtual or face-to-face – at least one group member for each project proposal must attend)
For further details, please contact please contact NWPST@manchester.ac.uk (NWPST Project Manager).
Congratulations to Dr Sandra Sampaio, who is one of four successful FAPESP jointly funded projects partnering with the University of São Paulo, with the project ‘Dynamic Resource Management for Intelligent Transportation System Applications’.
Congratulations to Prof. Gavin Brown on publication of his book 'How to get Your PhD: A Handbook for the Journey'
Find more information and take a peek via https://profgavinbrown.github.io/howtogetyourphd/
[ top ]Prize and award Opportunities
Nominations deadline: Monday, 06-Jun-22
Do you know a researcher who has had an outstanding year? Has a researcher or research team made a recent breakthrough? Has a research team made a societal impact? Do you know a researcher who contributes to a supportive research environment for their colleagues?
If yes, then nominate them for a Research Staff Strategy Group Excellence Award and ensure research staff receive the recognition they deserve.
[ top ]Research Funding Opportunities
Webinar:10-Jun-22, 11:00 - 12:30
MRC has launched a new Industry Collaboration Framework (ICF) to support applicants submitting collaborative research projects. The framework ensures that the necessary discussions have been initiated between the partners and that the nature of the collaboration is compliant with MRC guidelines. The ICF replaces the MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA) process and aims to reduce the administrative burden on applicants by improving the process and providing clearer guidance. It will apply to all MRC opportunities opening after 27 April 2022.
To register for this webinar please go to:
The UK national academies with Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics) is establishing a Researchers at Risk Fellowships Programme. Researchers and innovators in any field – natural sciences, medical and health sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences and the arts – may be considered for funding if they:
- Hold a doctoral degree (or have equivalent experience).
- Are confirmed by Cara to be at risk.
- Are either still in Ukraine or it is not more than five years since they left Ukraine.
- Possess the language skills required for the successful completion of their academic project.
- Possess academic qualifications and can show other evidence of an active academic career (eg, publications).
- Have not yet been supported through an equivalent scheme/opportunity.
The awards are expected to run for up to two years each from a starting date to be agreed with the British Academy. The total amount available is circa £37,000 per year (£74,000 over two years).
EoI deadline: 5pm 25-May-22
The Turing AI World Leading Researcher Fellowships will invest in the retention and international recruitment of a small number of world-leading AI researchers to build new capability and capacity in the UK, contributing to the development of a diverse and sustainable UK AI research ecosystem.
To express your interest in applying, please send an outline case (maximum 2 sides of A4) with a CV (maximum 4 sides of A4) to firstname.lastname@example.org, (cc-in email@example.com) There will be an internal review process to select applications that the University will take forward to the outline stage.
We also encourage colleagues to contact potential external applicants.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with Matthew Harrison.