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News Archive : April - June 2012

Two DSTL 4 year PhD studentships announced

Date Added: 28th June 2012
Don't miss the opportunity to work on research in the fields of AI and computer vision with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Do you have, or expect to gain, a 2.1 or better degree or Masters degree in Computer Science or a related subject? Are you interested in how computers can work autonomously or how they can be taught to recognise images? If so, then we have two studentships, funded for four years, researching in these areas.

The first, entitled "Identifying Human Activities from Video Sequences" will have you working on new methodologies for processing and analysing humans captured on video. More information about the project and how to apply.

The second, "Runtime Quantitative Verification of Self-Adaptive AI Systems", integrates techniques from both AI and software engineering. You will develop a novel approach to the engineering of autonomous AI systems and will validate these systems with real-world case studies from DSTL. More information on the project and how to apply.

Both projects are funded for 4 years, with a stipend of £13,815 per annum. There is also generous provision for travel to conferences and visiting research collaborators. The estimated start date is October 2012.

Find out more about the projects, and apply online:

Identifying Human Activities from Video Sequences

Closing date for applications: 10 September 2012.

Runtime Quantitative Verification of Self-Adaptive AI Systems

Closing date for applications: 27 July 2012.

Are you afraid of robots?

Date Added: 20th June 2012
Professor Jon Timmis will give reasons why you shouldn't be afraid in his talk for York Skeptics on Monday 25 June.

There is common perception that robots are set to take over the world, and humans somehow will be made to work for a new metallic master. The lines between fact and fiction are often blurred in many areas, and robotics is no exception.

In this talk, Jon will discuss the limits of what robots are able to do, either when they work on their own or as they work as a "swarm". He will discuss work ranging from robots detecting strange chemical substances, to robots working together as a swarm to perform tasks that individual robots can not do, to swarms of robots attempting to repair themselves.

However, whilst significant advances have been made in robotics, Jon will also discuss why we should not fear the "Terminator" robot for quite some time. In fact, sometimes they can not even manage to stay on a table, let alone direct the next revolution.

Jon's talk will be at The Phoenix on George Street, York and begins at 7.30pm. Further details can be found at

Jon's work here at the University is highly interdisciplinary and he works a great deal with immunologists, developing computer models of immune system function to aid understanding of various diseases and then translating ideas from immunology into engineering to develop reliable robotic systems. Details of his research can be found at

York Professor hosts Royal Society International Scientific Seminar

Date Added: 28th May 2012
The seminar is taking place at the Royal Society Kavli Centre on 28 and 29 May 2012, to look at ways to predict network behaviour.

It aims brings together scientists in the area of complex networks to understand the problem of how to characterise and predict the function of networks in a number of different areas. These areas include proteomics, demographics, ecology, biology and communications.

Professor Hancock hopes the seminar will support his research as Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder. The meeting is motivated by the belief that by providing unified mathematical tools that can be used to analyse the properties of networks and their links to network functionality, it will open up the possibility of new methods for both predicting network behaviour and designing networks with desired functional properties.

The proceedings are being filmed, so that others can share the outputs of the meeting, and will be available on

Find out more about Professor Hancock's research group in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition.

York Computer Science maintains Guardian top ten ranking

Date Added: 22nd May 2012
We are delighted to have kept our sixth place in the Guardian subject league tables.

Published today, the tables look at staff:student ratio, student satisfaction and employability statistics. York fares well in these areas - our links with industry ensure that our graduates leave us with the skills to go directly into the workplace.

Check out the Computer Sciences and IT table for yourself.

Find out more about our undergraduate programmes at

Apply now for PhD Funding in Safety-Critical Java

Date Added: 16th May 2012
Would you trust a computer to run a chemical plant or oil platform? PhD funding is available to research techniques to support programming in a more comprehensive set of Safety-Critical Java.

You might not trust a computer with the potentially dangerous job of running a chemical plant or oil platform, but as a society we do trust computers to work for us on similar, safety-critical situations all the time. Modern society is almost totally reliant on software-based infrastructure.

This demands modelling and programming languages and techniques that facilitate and ensure quality. The reality of industry, however, is that various modern programming features found useful in other sectors of the software industry are often left out on the grounds of safety.

An international effort from industry and academia has addressed this issue by producing a high-integrity real-time version of perhaps one of the most popular programming languages ever: Java. Safety-Critical Java achieves a compromise between safety and an ambitious novel intake on a programming model: it combines a safe use of object orientation and real-time programming.

It lacks, however, the support for program development and verification now widely available for Java. At York, we have been tackling this problem for a while, but have been concentrating on a subset of Safety-Critical Java that restricts the use of parallelism. While this is a useful step, getting rid of restrictions is our goal. We want to provide techniques to support programming in a more comprehensive set of Safety-Critical Java, and fully support industry in this bold step: using Java in a novel domain of application.

We don't have a solution to this problem, but we do have a fully-funded PhD studentship that could support you while you attack it.

You'll be supported in your work by two experienced academics at York (Dr Ana Cavalcanti and Professor Andy Wellings). You'll be put through York's established programme of PhD training. The start date for the project is flexible from October, 2012, and you'll receive a tax-free stipend of £13,590 p.a. for 3 years. You'll come out of the project with excellent software engineering skills in area that is becoming more and more relevant every day: real-time systems and program verification.

The successful applicant will have a first or 2.1 in computer science or a strongly related discipline, along with a keen interest in programming and a proven ability to write and present. Good social skills, genuine sympathy for the difficulties faced by computer users, and a rigorous engineering mindset will be very valuable. Standard EPSRC eligibility criteria apply (see EPSRC's eligibility conditions for more details).

If you have any questions about this studentship, contact Dr Ana Cavalcanti. To apply, go to (in the "Funding Information" section of the form, please state "AOS CASE Studentship"). The deadline for applications is 29 June 2012.

Computer Science at York remains a top ten department

Date Added: 24th April 2012
The Complete University Guide 2013 shows York's Department of Computer Science remains a top ten UK department.

The tables, which are based on factors such as student satisfaction and graduate prospects, rank both subjects (departments) and universities as a whole.

According to Complete Guide, the University of York has the highest average score for teaching quality in the British university sector. It is also ranked eighth for the quality of its research.

You can find out more about the rankings at The Complete University Guide.

Computer Science recognition - Athena SWAN award

Date Added: 2nd April 2012
We're delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Bronze Athena SWAN award for supporting female careers in science.

The awards recognise the commitment of institutions and science, engineering and technology (SET) departments to addressing gender inequalities, to tackling the unequal representation of women in science and to improving career progression for female academics.

Professor John McDermid, Head of Computer Science, said: ““Women are very under-represented in computer science across the UK, with typically only 10% of academic staff being female. We have many excellent female staff in the Department, and I am delighted that our efforts to support them, and to encourage others into the discipline, have been recognised in this way.

“We offer flexibility, eg through part-time working, flexible hours, which are of benefit to all staff, and seek to help research staff in career development. We are also pleased that we have significantly increased the number of female undergraduates in recent years, as they will, in time, form the core of the profession. Few computer science departments have received Athena Swan awards; we hope that our success will both encourage staff in York, and in the wider academic community.”

The Athena SWAN Charter is supported by the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET and by the Equality Challenge Unit.

You can find out more about the award at: