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  • School of CS newsletter

    Published: Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    Weekly newsletter for the School of CS

    [ top ]News and announcements

    Better World Showcase

    To recognise and communicate the outstanding Social Responsibility activities across the Faculty of Science and Engineering, we are inviting nominations for the ‘Better World Showcase’. The aim of the Showcase is to raise awareness of the important contribution our Faculty makes to social and environmental impact, to highlight the efforts of staff and students who are ‘making a difference’, and to hopefully inspire others to do the same.

    The categories and criteria (listed in the attached) are largely the same as the University’s Making a Difference (MAD) Awards so that we can use our Faculty’s Showcase as a pipeline to make applications for the MAD Awards.

    All staff and students who currently work or study in the Faculty are eligible to be nominated. To nominate yourself, someone else or a team in any of the categories, please complete this online form by Tuesday, 31st October 2017.

    Once nominations have closed, a poster will be produced for each project or initiative and these will be displayed in buildings on campus in January. The winner in each category, as determined by a judging panel, will be announced at the Better World Showcase ceremony which is taking place on Monday, 12th February 2018 in the Great Hall and will be hosted by the Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty Professor Martin Schröder.

    More information about the Showcase, the categories and criteria and the nomination process can be found in the attached documentand on StaffNet.

    If you have any questions about the Better World Showcase please email Fran Guratsky, the Faculty’s Social Responsibility Project Manager.

    gravatar Karen Corless

    Paper published in JMLR: Quantifying the Informativeness of Similarity Measurements

    The Journal of Machine Learning Research ( is pleased to announce the publication of a new paper:
    Quantifying the Informativeness of Similarity Measurements
    Austin J. Brockmeier, Tingting Mu, Sophia Ananiadou, John Y. Goulermas
    JMLR 18(76):1-61, 2017.

    In this paper, we describe an unsupervised measure for quantifying the 'informativeness' of correlation matrices formed from the pairwise similarities or relationships among data instances. The measure quantifies the heterogeneity of the correlations and is defined as the distance between a correlation matrix and the nearest correlation matrix with constant off-diagonal entries. This non-parametric notion generalizes existing test statistics for equality of correlation coefficients by allowing for alternative distance metrics, such as the Bures and other distances from quantum information theory. For several distance and dissimilarity metrics, we derive closed-form expressions of informativeness, which can be applied as objective functions for machine learning applications. Empirically, we demonstrate that informativeness is a useful criterion for selecting kernel parameters, choosing the dimension for kernel-based nonlinear dimensionality reduction, and identifying structur!
    ed graphs. We also consider the problem of finding a maximally informative correlation matrix around a target matrix, and explore parameterizing the optimization in terms of the coordinates of the sample or through a lower-dimensional embedding. In the latter case, we find that maximizing the Bures-based informativeness measure, which is maximal for centered rank-1 correlation matrices, is equivalent to minimizing a specific matrix norm, and present an algorithm to solve the minimization problem using the norm's proximal operator. The proposed correlation denoising algorithm consistently improves spectral clustering. Overall, we find informativeness to be a novel and useful criterion for identifying non-trivial correlation structure.

    This paper and previous papers are available electronically at in PDF format. The papers of Volumes 1-4 were also published in hardcopy by MIT Press; please see for details. Volume 5 and subsequent volumes are being printed in hardcopy by Microtome Publishing. Please see for details and ordering information.

    Charles Sutton


    gravatar Karon Mee

    [ top ]Events

    Cognitive Robotics: Recent Developments and Futuristic Trends KB L.T 1.4 at 13.30 on 4/10/17

    Cognitive Robotics: Recent Developments and Futuristic Trends

    • Speaker: Prof. Er Meng Joo (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
    • Host: Xiao-Jun Zeng
    • 4th October 2017 at 13.30 in KB L.T 1.4
    The quest for building human-like intelligence has gained enormous momentum in recent decades. Since the seminal works on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the desire of realizing the quest has become stronger. With the rapid developments in Science, Engineering and Technology, machines that mimic human intelligence have become a reality and sometimes indispensable parts in our daily life, such as Apple Siri and Google Voice. Cognition is a group of mental processes that include attention, memory, producing and understanding language, solving problems and making decisions and making decisions. Cognitive robotics is concerned with endowing robots with intelligent behavior by providing a processing architecture that will allow it to learn and reason about how to behave in response to complex goals in a complex world. In this talk, recent developments of cognitive robotics with applications in the healthcare industry, domestic services, marine vehicles etc will be reviewed. The futuristic trends and challenges will also be discussed.
    Professor Er Meng Joo is currently a Full Professor in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He served as the Founding Director of Renaissance Engineering Programme and an elected member of the NTU Advisory Board from 2009 to 2012. Furthermore, he served as a member of the NTU Senate Steering Committee from 2010 to 2012.

    He has authored five books entitled Dynamic Fuzzy Neural Networks: Architectures, Algorithms and Applications and Engineering Mathematics with Real-World Applications published by McGraw Hill in 2003 and 2005 respectively, and Theory and Novel Applications of Machine Learning published by In-Tech in 2009, New Trends in Technology: Control, Management, Computational Intelligence and Network Systems and New Trends in Technology: Devices, Computer, Communication and Industrial Systems, both published by SCIYO, 18 book chapters and more than 500 refereed journal and conference papers in his research areas of interest.

    Professor Er was bestowed the Web of Science Top 1 % Best Cited Paper and the Elsevier Top 20 Best Cited Paper Award in 2007 and 2008 respectively. In recognition of the significant and impactful contributions to Singapore?s development by his research projects, Professor Er won the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award twice (2011 and 2015).

    Currently, Professor Er serves as the Editor-in-Chief of 3 international journals, namely International Journal of Intelligent Autonomous Systems, Transactions on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and the International Journal of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Telecommunications. He also serves an Area Editor of International Journal of Intelligent Systems Science and an Associate Editor of 14 refereed international journals, including IEEE Transaction on Cybernetics, Information Sciences, Neurocomputing etc.)

    ▲ Up to the top

    gravatar Karon Mee

    RDM Workshops

    Are you a Postgraduate Researcher? Do you want to achieve efficiency and openness?

    We’ve scheduled some RDM workshops designed to support our researchers at The University of Manchester:

    • Learn how to organise your data so you can find it again in 3 years

    • Discover how to share your data to build your reputation and gain more citations

    • Create a data management plan with our help during the session

    • Find out what you need to do to comply with funder mandates in your field

    Research data management in Science and Engineering

    11 Oct 2017


    Roscoe 2.4

    Research data management in Science and Engineering

    17 Jan 2018


    Zochonis B24


    gravatar Karen Corless

    R at University of Manchester (R.U.M) 2 Oct

    Introducing "R at University of Manchester" (R.U.M.), an R User group open to all staff and students using R at The University of Manchester, usually meeting in The Congregation, Vaughan House (Portsmouth St) at 11am on the first Monday of each month.  The R.U.M Group brings together R users of all levels, with interests in diverse fields from across the University to exchange tips, ideas and knowledge. In monthly meetings, we cover topics related to data handling, manipulation and presentation with short talks, and provide an open and relaxed forum. All are welcome to attend, and total proficiency in R is not a requirement! It is recommended but not essential that users bring a laptop to follow the session. The meeting will be followed by a 30 minute R surgery in which we will aim to troubleshoot any problematic code you may wish to bring along.

    Topics for our next meeting (2nd October), which will be held at 3.214 University Place, will include “Using Caret to solve classification problems” and “Potential RUM funding stream applications”. For a schedule of upcoming meeting topics and further information please visit:, and sign up to our listserv for updates and R events at We welcome any submissions for future discussion topics, and encourage you to circulate this notice to any colleagues or students whom you think may be interested in attending future meetings.

    Reka Solymosi (School of Law) and Heather Robinson (Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health)

    gravatar Karen Corless

    Manchester Half Marathon - Katie McCall from MI - raising funds for Marie Curie UK

    Katie McCall, a member of staff at the School of Computer Science, will be running the Manchester Half Marathon on 15th October 2017 to raise funds for Marie Curie UK.

    Marie Curie provide support to families caring for someone with terminal illness across the UK. Offering expert care and advice, they help families to make the most of the time they have left together. Last year, they helped more than 50,000 people across the UK by providing trained nursing staff, volunteers, information and support services, hospice care.

    “Marie Curie have supported my family through some very difficult times. Dorothy, the Marie Curie nurse who helped us, made a massive difference to our lives when she helped to look after my dad and supported my mum. It would be brilliant to raise lots of money to give something back to Marie Curie because they provided fantastic support to my family, and they continue to have a huge impact on the lives of other families living across the UK. Any donations, big or small, are very much appreciated. Thank you so much.”

    If you would like to support Katie’s Manchester Half Marathon and donate to Marie Curie, please follow the link to her sponsorship page.


    gravatar Karon Mee

    [ top ]Tech Support News

    Outlook users and Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

    You may recall the Summer introduction of two factor authentication (2FA) for staff and PGRs was postponed.The new date announced by IT Services is 14 November 2017. This will impact users of the Outlook email client only, from that date. Around a month later, the Outlook Web Application will be brought under 2FA too. There is currently no date announced for Thunderbird, other email clients and/or Linux users.

    Technical details on IT's web site:

    gravatar Ian Cottam

    Dropbox Business

    Just a reminder that Dropbox Business is available to all UoM researchers. Technically, PGRs are treated on an individual basis, but we have not heard of anyone being refused. My wiki entry, with details of how to run a business and personal dropbox side-by-side, is here:

    It is now University Policy that personal Dropbox folders not be used for UoM business. This allows, amongst other things, for the University to access the work of staff and postgraduates when they leave.

    gravatar Ian Cottam

    [ top ]Sustainability and Green Impact News

    Green Impact Information - tips for the start of a new academic year

    Scanning documents to email

    Scanning is available in ACSO (currently in IT401) and can be used to avoid printing on paper                                                                                  



    Remember the School has conference phones available in the main School meeting rooms and ACSO has one and a Skype Mic which can be booked out.

     Email ACSO to book:


    Sustainable Travel Plan

    For those who wish to look into alternative sustainable travel plans:                                                                                                           


    5 energy saving tips for staff:

    -turn off lights if you are the last one to leave a room

    -turn off pc’s at the weekend/holidays

    -use a mobike for local meeting!

    -report dripping taps

    -use your own mug for coffee at Food on Campus outlets

    gravatar Ruth Maddocks

    gravatar Ruth Maddocks
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Last change: Wednesday, 04 October 2017 14:51:37