Back to Latest News

News Archive : January - March 2011

Grand opening of the new Computer Science building

Date Added: 29th March 2011
Dr Graham Spittle of IBM officially opened the new Computer Science building on Heslington East on 29 March 2011.

Dr Spittle, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President, Software Group Europe, for IBM, met senior academics and toured the building, seeing demonstrations of our world-class research.

He also gave an interactive seminar for some of our postgraduate students, where they learnt a bit more about IBM and working in industry. The day ended with an official opening ceremony, where Dr Spittle talked about the links between IBM and Computer Science, before unveiling our new plaque.

Dr Spittle said, "The opening coincides with a major landmark at IBM, as we celebrate our Centennial year. At this time, we too are firmly focused on the role that Computer Science can play in addressing major global issues: food availability, water supply and distribution, energy supply and security, city congestion and environmental modelling.

"Through this investment, and by partnering effectively with business in its research and development, this new facility will be fundamental in developing the future skills and expertise required to address these challenges."

Professor John McDermid, Head of Department of Computer Science, added: “Our fantastic new building has enhanced our facilities for research and teaching, benefitting both staff and students.

"It provides purpose-designed facilities for teaching, space to support spin-out companies and entrepreneurship, as well as dedicated research laboratories to help keep our research at the forefront of the discipline. The move helps to cement our position as a leading department of computer science nationally and internationally.”

Development of the new Department of Computer Science building has been supported by investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in Yorkshire and the Humber, part of a major infrastructure project led by Science City York to extend the assets and strategic potential of York as a leading centre for science and innovation.

Computer Science to host annual workshop on constraint solving and constraint logic programming in April

Date Added: 23rd February 2011
The call for papers is now open for the annual ERCIM workshop on Constraint Solving and Constraint Logic Programming.

This workshop will take place on 12-14 April 2011, and will be held in the medieval Kings Manor University buildings in the centre of York. The programme includes the invited speakers, Holger H. Hoos, a Professor for Computer Science at the University of British Columbia (Canada), and Torsten Schaub, Professor at the University of Potsdam.

The workshop will cover all aspects of constraint and logic programming, with particular emphasis on assessing the current state of the art and identifying future directions. The social programme will include a tour of York, and a dinner in the 18th Century Assembly Rooms, probably the earliest neo-classical building in Europe.

Dr Alan Frisch, Head of the Artificial Intelligence research group here in Computer Science, is Programme Chair for this workshop. To find out more about the workshop and to submit a paper, please visit You can book your place online, and students benefit from a reduced rate and can also book online.

Artificial Intelligence Conference comes to York

Date Added: 21st February 2011
We're delighted to be hosting the 2011 Convention for the UK Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB).

AISB '11 will be held at the University of York on 4-7 April 2011, on the Heslington East campus. The convention is an annual event organised as a number of symposia interspersed with invited plenary talks.

Four invited speakers have been confirmed: Alan Baddeley (York), Katie Slocombe (York), Mark Steedman (Edinburgh) and Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research). The AISB 2011 symposia cover a number of interdisciplinary topics related to Computer Science, Psychology, Linguistics and Philosophy.

Discounted early registration fees apply until 28 February 2011, and there are a number of student bursaries available through the Excellence Hub for Yorkshire and Humber for students at universities in the region.

Find out more about the conference and book your place at

New public lecture: Computer (and Human) Perfection at Checkers

Date Added: 16th February 2011
Listen to Professor Jonathan Schaeffer, leader of the Chinook project, talk about his quest for computer and human perfection at the game of checkers (draughts) on Thursday 17 March 2011.

In 1989, the Chinook project began with the goal of winning the human World Checkers Championship. There was an imposing obstacle to success - the human champion, Marion Tinsley. Tinsley was as close to perfection at the game as was humanly possible.

To be better than Tinsley, the computer had to be perfect. In effect, it had to solve checkers. Little did the project group know that their quest would take 18 years to complete. In this public lecture, Jonathan Schaeffer, the creator of Chinook, tells the story of the quest for computer and human perfection at the game of checkers.

The lecture will take place at 7pm, in the Ron Cooke Hub on the University Heslington East campus. You do not need a ticket for this event, but it will be first come, first served on the night, as seats are limited.

For directions to the venue, visit If you need any further information, please contact

You can find out more about Chinook, eventually crowned the World Man-Machine Checkers Champion, at

New student blogs launched

Date Added: 26th January 2011
We have launched a new series of blogs written by Computer Science students, showing what life is really like as a Computer Science student at York.

Read our new student blogs from three undergraduate students, to find out their thoughts on their course, the university and more!

We're always on the look out for more people to complete our blogs, so if you are a student in Computer Science at York, submit your details to be considered.

Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for Professor Jon Timmis

Date Added: 7th January 2011
We're delighted to announce Professor Jon Timmis' success in receiving this award, which is given to "respected scientists of outstanding achievement or potential".

The award will begin in April 2011, and lasts for five years, to help Jon to continue his research into self-healing swarm robotic systems. This work brings together three areas: swarm robotics, immunology and computational modelling. He will develop immune-inspired engineering solutions to identify individual and collectively failing robots, and not only diagnose what is wrong but also be able to take corrective action to help alleviate the failure.

All these decisions are made autonomously by the robotic swarm: some by an individual robot, but others by the whole swarm in a collaborative manner. This will allow the robotic swarms to continue operation for extended periods of time without any human intervention, thus improving their ability to undertake difficult tasks.

An exciting aspect of Jon's work is that benefits will not only be seen in swarm robotics but also in immunology. This includes two important areas of immunology: regulatory networks, that are involved in the spontaneous recovery from a mouse disease equivalent to multiple sclerosis; and the formation of granulomas, which are protective structures created by the immune system to control the spread of various diseases. These models will then be used to help derive immune-inspired solutions for the self-healing process in swarm robotic systems.

Find out more
You can explore more about Jon's work on his personal webpage, as part of the Non-Standard Computation research group here at York.

If you would like to study the subject further, you can apply to study on our MSc in Natural Computation (on which Jon is the Programme Lead).

Undergraduate students can also choose modules on natural computation on our Computer Science programmes - our podcast explains more about what you can study.