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News Archive : April - June 2010

York Computer Science rises in the Guardian 2011 University guide

Date Added: 8th June 2010
We have retained our top ten position, rising to seventh out of 103 UK Computer Science departments.

The Guardian rankings, which take into account student satisfaction, student staff ratio and employability, has further endorsed our reputation as a leading department of Computer Science in the UK. You can see the full subject tables at

In the same rankings, the University as a whole rose from 11th to 7th place.

Open event at Computer Science for local businesses

Date Added: 24th May 2010
We are hosting a free evening event on 9 June 2010, for local business to explore ways of working with Computer Science at York.

On Wednesday 9 June at 5.30pm, we are opening our doors to local businesses within the technology sector to give an overview of the Department. In these tough economic times, we can help you to move your business forward.

You will have the opportunity to meet and hear from our Head of Department, Professor John McDermid OBE, who will be talking about the cutting edge research being undertaken in the Department. You will find out how we can help you with your own projects, to help push you ahead of your competitors.

You’ll have the chance to meet some of our students and hear about their projects, and how we’re preparing them for the workplace. Dr Steve King, our Deputy Head of Department for Teaching, will be on hand to talk about our degree programmes, and how we work with industry to ensure our graduates have the knowledge and skills to get to work quickly and effectively.

You can also find out more about our summer internship programme: a cost-effective and flexible scheme where our students can make a real difference to your business over the summer months.

The event is free to attend, and refreshments will be provided. The evening also includes time for networking with Department staff and students and other attendees from local businesses, with the event coming to a close at 6.30pm.

If you would like to come along and find out more about how you could work with Computer Science to move your business forward, please let Sarah Christmas know on or call her on 01904 433385.

Computer Science retains top ten position in the league tables

Date Added: 21st May 2010
York Computer Science is amongst the top departments in the discipline according to the 2011 Complete University Guide.

Published by the Independent, the Complete University Guide has ranked the Department of Computer Science amongst the top Computer Science departments in the UK, placing us seventh out of 104 departments.

The Department continues to enjoy league table success, rising from eighth place last year. You can view the league table here:

We regularly appear in the top ten of all league tables, including the new Times 2011 Good University Guide.

Second year student recognised as top student by IBM

Date Added: 19th May 2010
Amit Sinha, a second year Computer Science student, has been nominated to attend the IBM EMEA Best Student Recognition Event 2010.

The three-day event, for the top students in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is an all expenses paid trip to IBM’s Research Laboratories in Germany in July. It aims to give students a chance to see IBM’s business and research, to enhance their interest in information technology and its implications, and to nurture creative thinking for opportunities in business and society.

Amit’s nomination has been made due to his contribution to IBM’s Smarter Planet University Jam in April 2009, where he was recognised as one of the Top 20 Student Contributors to the 72 hour world-wide online conversation hosted by IBM to discuss how to make the planet smarter.

Amit is also currently the Campus Ambassador for both IBM and Goldman Sachs, which involves liaising with the corporate teams and assisting with on-campus events. In addition, Amit sits on an Advisory Council for IBM (consisting of 11 students and IBMers from the HQ in New York), looking at the advancement of ‘Students for a Smarter Planet’.

Amit said of his nomination: “I think it’s going to be a very interesting and exciting experience. It is an honour to have the opportunity to represent the University of York on a global platform. I honestly feel that this is a true testament of the quality of teaching and support I have received from the members of the Computer Science department, as well as the university as a whole.”

All of us in the Department of Computer Science are delighted that Amit has been nominated for such a prestigious event, and we hope he enjoys his time in Germany.

Distinguished international fellowship for Dr Richard Wilson

Date Added: 14th May 2010
Richard Wilson has been awarded an IAPR (International Association of Pattern Recognition) Fellowship.

These fellowships are awarded every 2 years at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition and recognise outstanding contributions to the field of pattern recognition.

Richard received the fellowship for his contribution to structural pattern recognition. His main area of research is in structural pattern recognition and the application of graphs to pattern recognition problems. He has made significant contributions in Bayesian methods for graph matching, the development of spectral techniques for structural pattern recognition and developing new feature sets for graphs.

This work has lead to the development of generative models for graphs and contributions to the fields of quantum computing, shape-from-shading, speech recognition and protein matching.

Richard is one of 17 recipients of the award, which will be presented at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition which will be held in Istanbul in August.

How resilient will the UK's critical infrastructure be in the future?

Date Added: 12th May 2010
Professor Jon Timmis has received a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to find out.

Decisions taken now by policy makers, NGOs, industrialists, and user communities will influence how resilient the UK's critical infrastructure will be in the future. How can this decision making be best informed by considerations of infrastructural resilience?

This new 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. Funded by the EPSRC, the grant totals £1.4m between 7 sites (Southampton (lead institution), York, Loughborough, Kings, UEL, Durham and Newcastle).

The project will deliver fresh perspectives on the relationships between our critical infrastructure sectors and their impact on current and future UK resilience to threats and hazards. It will also develop a state-of-the-art integrated social science/engineering methodology that can be generalised to address different sectors and scenarios, and an interactive demonstrator simulation for a wide range of decision makers and stakeholders.

Breaking the Code: from Enigma to your Cashpoint Card and Many Centuries Back

Date Added: 22nd April 2010
7.30pm, Wednesday 12 May 2010 at King's Manor

Professor John Clark will be giving a fun lecture that will take you on a journey through some landmark events in the breaking of cryptographic systems.

He will look at the emergence of machine assisted cryptanalysis (largely connected with WWII, and Enigma in particular) and move to the present day and beyond. You might think that with the vast computer resources available to us breaking Enigma today would now be a piece of cake. John will explain why this is not so!

As the lecture is taking place in the King's Manor (an historic building in the city centre and home to our Department of Archaeology and Centres for Medieval Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies), it seems appropriate to end by speculating on what modern computing power has to offer regarding unsolved classical ciphers such as the Voynich cipher.

The lecture is open to all with an interest in cryptography.

Robots to swarm at new Computer Science building

Date Added: 19th April 2010
Our new robotics lab at Heslington East will allow us to develop flying robots that could help to search for missing people.

The new facility on the campus expansion at Heslington East has received planning permission to allow us to develop our research into swarms of robots, that can be assembled into teams and used to hunt for survivors following disasters such as earthquakes. We will also be able to investigate further the possibility of developing flying robots.

Professor Susan Stepney, Associate Head of Department, explains: "We are developing biologically-inspired control systems for lots of small, inexpensive robots working together in swarms. It’s better to have lots of small robots working together because, if one breaks down, the system continues to work – you don’t have that option if you’re relying on one large, expensive robot.

“We need a large area to operate them effectively. The building will also be double-height because we are investigating the possibility of flying robots. Swarms of robots might be used to search through rubble for survivors after an earthquake, for instance, while flying robots might be used to search for missing persons."

The new laboratory will also include a viewing area, so local schools and other visitors can see the research in action.

Meet the Department in China in April

Date Added: 13th April 2010
The University of York is visiting China this month, and will be holding a graduation ceremony and giving you the chance to meet us at recruitment events.

The University of York is holding its second Celebration of Achievement and Graduation Ceremony in Beijing on 17 April 2010. This is a wonderful opportunity for University graduates from the Asia Pacific area, and their families, to celebrate their graduation from the University of York.

As well as celebrating the achievement of our University graduates, Professor John McDermid, OBE, Head of the Department of Computer Science, will be presenting Professor He Jifeng for an honorary degree. Professor Jifeng is a Professor of Computer Science at East China Normal University in Shanghai and Shanghai Jao Tong University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the international Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST), at the United Nations University in Macau.

Whilst in China, members of the Department will also be available at a number of recruitment events across the country. If you would like to talk about studying Computer Science at York, find out which events we are attending at

If you would like more information about York’s links with China and the University visit, go to