Non-Standard Computation Group
Research projects and grants

TRUCE: Training and Research in Unconventional Computation in Europe
[CoCORo] EU Coordination and support action : Oct 2012 -- Sept 2015 : MMU, York, University of Malaga, University of Southern Denmark
York PI: Susan Stepney

TRUCE is a coordination action to help organize the international Unconventional computation (UCOMP) community. The inherent diversity of the field has led to fragmentation, with many sub-fields developing in parallel. With largescale project support now being offered by the European Commission, the time is precisely right to organize and coordinate the field at the European level. This coordination action will engage the European community (and beyond), construct the first UCOMP roadmap, reach out to a wider public beyond the scientific community, and build the foundations for a new, sustainable and coherent scientific discipline.

Narrative and Complex Systems application workshops
University of York : Oct 2012 -- July 2013
PI: Richard Walsh
CoI: Susan Stepney

We will hold two workshops, in which the international group of participants in the Narrative and Complex Systems group will develop a set of research proposals, all focussed upon aspects of the relation between narrative and complexity. These two workshops will each be designed to generate several effectively targeted proposals for very different funding opportunities across an broad interdisciplinary range. We will also develop an umbrella web site that will establish the groupís identity and integrate the range of our research, as a contextual resource for all the research proposals.

DAASE: Dynamic Adaptive Automated Software Engineering
EPSRC programme grant EP/J017515/1 : June 2012 -- May 2018 : UCL, York, Birmingham, Stirling
York PI: John A Clark
RA: Simon Poulding

Suppose we automate large parts of the software development process using computational search. Requirements engineering, project planning and testing now become unified into a single automated activity. As requirements change, the project plans and associated tests are adapted to best suit the changes. Now suppose we further embed this adaptivity within the software product itself. Smaller changes to the operating environment can now be handled automatically. Feedback from the operating environment to the development process will also speed adaption of both the software product and process to much larger changes that cannot be handled by such in-situ adaptation.

This is the new approach to software engineering DAASE seeks to create. It places computational search at the heart of the processes and products it creates and embeds adaptivity into both. DAASE will also create an array of new processes, methods, techniques and tools for a new kind of software engineering, radically transforming the theory and practice of software engineering. DAASE will develop a hyper-heuristic approach to adaptive automation. A hyper-heuristic is a methodology for selecting or generating heuristics. Most heuristic methods in the literature operate on a search space of potential solutions to a particular problem. However, a hyper-heuristic operates on a search space of heuristics.

High Performance Coherent Quantum Communications
EU FET QUIE2T : Sept 2011 -- Aug 2014
York PI: Sam Braunstein
CI: Stefano Pirandola

Coherent optics has been known since the 1960ís to be, in principle, the best tool to achieve very high bandwidths and bit rates in optical communication. While the development of fiber optical amplifiers in the 1980ís has reduced the need for developing such a technology, the advent of quantum information sciences has triggered a renewed interest in using coherent optics realize high-rate quantum communication systems. The present project is focused on coherent quantum communication as a way to combine the intrinsically very high rates achievable by homodyne or heterodyne detection with the fundamental benefits of using quantum mechanics such as unconditional security.

CoCoRo: Collective Cognitive Robots
[CoCORo] EU FP7 FET : Feb 2011 -- Feb 2014 : Graz, York, Stuttgart, Pisa, ULB
York PI: Jon Timmis
CI: Andy Tyrrell
RAs: Mark Read, James Hilder

The CoCoRo project aims to create an autonomous swarm of interacting, cognitive robots. CoCoRo will develop a swarm of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that are able to interact with each other and which can balance tasks. Focal tasks of the CoCoRo-swarms are: ecological monitoring, searching, maintaining, exploring and harvesting resources in underwater habitats.

Context Aware Recommender Systems
NCR : Oct 2010 -- Oct 2013
PI: Jon Timmis

There is an increasing need for personalising in a timely, relevant and flexible way the delivery of services to individuals. Systems providing such services should be able to adapt, over time, to a changing user profile in response to a diverse set of data sources. Information filtering is the process of filtering incoming data streams based on a description, or a constructed profile of a user, or in some cases a group of users. User profiles will adapt to a variety of changes ranging from frequent variations in a userís short-term needs, to occasional larger alterations in behaviour such as the purchasing of new goods. Profiles are required to adapt to the varying activities of the user to effect useful recommendations that may well affect user behaviour. The work will focus on the development of adaptive intelligent algorithms, architectures and techniques that are capable of creating a dynamic system, possibly deployed on hand-held devices, that enables a user centric service provision. This provision allows customers to not only to purchase goods and services that they regularly use, but also allows for the alteration the purchasing behaviour of the user.

Resilient Futures
EPSRC grant EP/I005943/1 : Southampton, Durham, King's, Loughborough, Newcastle, UEL, York : Oct 2010 -- Sept 2013
York PI: Jon TImmis
RA: Paul Andrews

[resilient transport infrastructure] What will the UK's critical infrastructure look like in 2030? In 2050? How resilient will it be? Decisions taken now by policy makers, NGOs, industrialists, and user communities will influence the answers to these questions. How can this decision making be best informed by considerations of infrastructural resilience? This project will consider future developments in the UK's energy and transport infrastructure and the resilience of these systems to natural and malicious threats and hazards, delivering a) fresh perspectives on how the inter-relations amongst our critical infrastructure sectors impact on current and future UK resilience, b) a state-of-the-art integrated social science/engineering methodology that can be generalised to address different sectors and scenarios, and c) an interactive demonstrator simulation that operationalises the otherwise nebulous concept of resilience for a wide range of decision makers and stakeholders.

White Rose Immune Modelling Network
White Rose University Consortium : York/Leeds/Sheffield: Oct 2010 -- Sep 2013
York PI: Jon Timmis

Dysregulation of inflammatory responses underlies diseases such as arthritis and atherosclerosis. Moreover, activation of the inflammatory transcription factor NF-kB has recently been identified as a significant parameter in determining tumour development. Detailed information of fundamental events directing signal amplification and potentiation of the NF-kB pathway will therefore be of significance in understanding mechanisms of inflammatory control which underlie some of the most common diseases of the 21st century. This project employs agent-based modelling to explore a pathway of the innate immune system with a combined modelling and experimental approach, using modelling to help drive in-vitro experimentation and give crucial insight into regulatory effects. This work will contribute to the development of computational models of the role of the NF-kB pathway, which can be tested experimentally, and also to the area of computer science and the use and development of such modelling techniques.

[Immune modelling]

The Birth, Life and Death of Semantic Mutants
EPSRC grant EP/G043604/1 : York, Brunel : Jun 2009 -- May 2013
PI: John A Clark

Misunderstanding the semantics of descriptive notations is a common source of problems in software development. We believe that these misunderstandings can be represented as semantic mutants over descriptions and that test data produced to kill semantic mutants is effective at finding faults caused by such misunderstandings: It will often find faults that are typically missed by test sets produced by extant testing strategies (and in particular, by test sets that are produced to kill traditional syntactic mutants). We also believe that he production of semantic mutants and the generation of test data to kill them can be automated.

PAB: Plasticity and robustness in the Arabidopsis shoot branching regulatory network

Gatsby Foundation grant : Biology/CS : Jan 2009 -- Dec 2013
PI: Ottoline Leyser
CI: Susan Stepney

This project aims to improve our understanding of the relationship between phenotype, its plasticity, and its robustness, using the hormonal control of shoot branching in Arabidopsis under high and low nitrogen supply as a model system. The 5 year programme builds on existing work on the molecular mechanisms controlling shoot branching and their modelling and simulation, and integrates both these aspects to explore systems properties using the new population genetics tools. Modelling aspects are in collaboration with Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz (Calgary) and population genetics aspects are in collaboration with Paula Kover (Manchester).

[Arabidopsis and models]

Albino: Artificial Biochemical Networks: Computational Models and Architectures
[Albino] EPSRC grant EP/F060041/1 : York (Electronics/CS/Biology): Sept 2008 -- Aug 2013
PI: Andy Tyrrell
CIs: Susan Stepney, Leo Caves
RA: Mic Lones
RS1, RS2: Alex Turner, Luis Fuente

Previous work by ourselves and others has shown how the structure and organisation of biological organisms can motivate the design of computer hardware and software, with the aim of capturing useful properties such as complex information processing and resistance to environmental perturbation. This project focuses upon one of the most complex sets of structures found in biological systems: biochemical networks. These structures are fundamental to the development, function and evolution of biological organisms, and are the main factor underlying the complexity seen within higher organisms. Previous attempts to build hardware and software systems motivated by these structures has led to a group of computer architectures which we collectively refer to as artificial biochemical network models. The best known of these is the artificial genetic network, which has shown itself to be an effective means of expressing complex computational behaviours, particularly within robotic control. Nevertheless, this field of research has received relatively little attention, and little is known about the computational properties of these architectures. The aim of the proposed work is to develop better artificial biochemical network models, which we will do by both bringing together existing work and introducing new understanding from the biological sciences. We will also develop a theoretical framework to better understand what these computational architectures are capable of, and show how how these models can be applied to the difficult problem of controlling a robot in real world environments. It is expected that this work will also produce insights into the function and evolution of the biological systems on which the architectures are modelled.


SYMBRION: Symbiotic Evolutionary Robot Organisms
EU FP7 grant 216342 : Feb 2008 -- Jan 2013
York PI: Jon Timmis
CI: Andy Tyrrell

[Demo Robot, Stuttgart] The main focus of this project is to investigate and develop novel principles of adaptation and evolution for symbiotic multi-robot organisms based on bio-inspired approaches and modern computing paradigms. Such robot organisms will consist of super-large-scale swarms of robots, which can dock with each other and symbiotically share energy and computational resources within a single artificial-life-form. When it is advantageous to do so, these swarm robots can dynamically aggregate into one or many symbiotic organisms and collectively interact with the physical world via a variety of sensors and actuators. The bio-inspired evolutionary paradigms combined with robot embodiment and swarm-emergent phenomena, enable the organisms to autonomously manage their own hardware and software organization. In this way, artificial robotic organisms become self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing and self- protecting from both hardware and software perspectives.

Journeys in Non-Classical Computation

UKCRC Grand Challenge 7 : 2003 -- 2023...?
Susan Stepney, Sam Braunstein, John A Clark, Jon Timmis

A 20 year research challenge, to produce a fully mature science of all forms of computation, that unifies the classical and non-classical paradigms

* Past projects