Informatics Newsletter February 2018

Issue 12 of our School newsletter for students and staff

Save the Dates

  • The next School General Meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 21st March 11.00am to 12.30pm in G.07/G.07a
  • Informatics Jamboree – a (half) day of fun for ALL Informatics staff and families will take place on 13th April on the ground floor of the Forum. The organising committee is putting together an exciting programme you do not want to miss: we will have a silent disco, swing dance classes, meet the alpacas event and last but not least a ceilidh, with the fantastic Science Ceilidh Band. (We will have a bit of science too, in case you were wondering!)

Currently we are looking for musicians for an ad hoc informatics band – if you play any musical instrument and would like to get involved, please email us (we already have one, reluctant fiddler).

Contact Infcomms

If the Jamboree sounds like your cup of tea and you’d like to get involved in organising, please contact us, too. We will need helpers on the day! Otherwise see you on the 13th and watch this space for more info (as well as your email and common areas in the Forum for posters!).

Pioneers of Informatics in Edinburgh

Following up on our anniversaries this year, please have a look at the bios of some important people who shaped the informatics research in Edinburgh.

We have also updated our Brief History of Informatics article.

If you’re interested in contributing to future articles about the history of the School, please contact us.

Pioneers of Informatics in Edinburgh

Brief History of Informatics

Contact Infcomms


  • Recent grant applications table

Recent research successes

  • Researches from CISA had a large survey article published in the journal Artificial Intelligence, considered the leading journal for AI research. The survey is on the topic of "Autonomous agents modelling other agents". One of the central goals in artificial intelligence (AI) research is the development of intelligent autonomous agents. Many examples show that often the agent has to collaborate with other agents in order to complete its tasks, including humans. The challenge in such scenarios is that the agent has to reason about the unknown beliefs, intentions, plans, and behaviours of others. Much research in AI and related areas has been concerned with developing such systems and, consequently, there exist a number of different approaches to enable autonomous agents to reason about others. A new article written by Dr Stefano V. Albrecht (School of Informatics) and Dr Peter Stone (University of Texas at Austin) provides a comprehensive survey of the current approaches. This survey is the first to identify and describe the major approaches which were developed in diverse AI sub-communities, and has been described by reviewers as a “milestone” paper. The survey was published in Artificial Intelligence, widely considered the leading journal for AI research.

DOI link

Publisher link

arXiv open access

  • ICSA researchers have had two papers accepted for presentation at 23rd ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems. ASPLOS is the premier forum for multidisciplinary systems research spanning computer architecture and hardware, programming languages and compilers, operating systems and networking. The successful papers are as follows. Both the non-Edinburgh collaborators are also recent members of ICSA.

- 'Automatic matching of legacy code to heterogeneous APIs: An idiomatic approach', by Philip Ginsbach, Toomas Remmelg, Michel Steuwer (Glasgow), Bruno Bodin, Christophe Dubach and Mike O'Boyle.

- 'Blasting Through The Front-End Bottleneck With Shotgun', by Rakesh Kumar (Uppsala), Boris Grot and Vijay Nagarajan.


  • Vaishak Belle’s paper has been accepted at the AAMAS Conference. The paper tries to generalise a popular mathematical definition for planning from the 90s to so-called stochastic settings in order to be applicable to robotics applications.  AAMAS (International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems) is the largest and most influential conference in the area of agents and multiagent systems. The aim of the conference is to bring together researchers and practitioners in all areas of agent technology and to provide a single, high-profile, internationally renowned forum for research in the theory and practice of autonomous agents and multiagent systems. AAMAS is the flagship conference of the non-profit International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS).


  • CDT in Data Science student Andreas Kapourani and collaborators in Cambridge had a paper published in Nature Communications. Scientists have developed the first method to analyse three molecular layers simultaneously during single-cell analysis. Comparing the molecular interactions of cells in this way reveals differences that could have an impact on both the early stages of life and the first stages of diseases such as cancer. The new method is called single-cell Nucleosome, Methylation, Transcription sequencing (scNMT-seq).

Link to the paper

Student news

  • Our final year students are asked to provide their feedback through the National Student Survey. To mark the launch of NSS a pizza event took place on Level 9 of the Appleton Tower.

NSS launch for Informatics final year students


  • CDT in Data Science's Distinguished Lecture series has been very successful so far. The two first lectures in the series were sell-outs. The first one was by Sir John Curtice, 'Can We Ever Trust Opinion Polls?' and the second by Prof Klaus-Robert Muller 'Machine Learning and AI for the Sciences - Towards Understanding.'   


  • An augmented reality app reviving Jim Haynes Paperback Bookshop that once stood in place of the Informatics Forum - marked by the public art installation: William Darrell’s, 'Untitled (Rhino Head)' was launched as part of the Festival of Creative Learning. The app is a collaborative effort of Aleya Dwivedi from ECA and Andra Zaharia from the School of Informatics.

Reliving the Rhino Head: Jim Haynes' Paperback Bookshop Revived

You can get the app from Google Play and the App Store:

Google Play

App Store


  • The first ever Informatics Ball will take place on the 8th April at the Jam House. This event is open to staff and students alike. The event is black tie, and each ticket includes: a glass of prosecco on arrival, a three-course meal and another drink of your choice. Following dinner, there will be a ceilidh with a live band. A photographer will be present throughout the evening. The venue is wheelchair accessible and soft drinks will also be on offer throughout the evening.

The deadline for purchasing tickets is the 2nd March. Tickets are currently on sale on the CompSoc website.

CompSoc website

Further information can be found on the Facebook event.

Facebook event

If you have any queries, please contact the email below.

Contact the organisers

Bagdat Myrzakhmetov
Alumnus Bagdat Myrzakhmetov on his graduation day.

Alumni news

  • Our alumnus Bagdat Myrzakhmetov (2015 BSc Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science) has been nominated for a British Council - Study UK Alumni Award in Kazakhstan. Bagdat is currently working on various tasks around the natural language processing of the Kazakh language. He collected the largest parallel corpora for Kazakh-Russian and Kazakh-English language pairs. It was the first largest parallel corpus for Kazakh. He also built a machine translation system for Kazakh-Russian language pairs. When he applied for the UK Alumni award, he didn't expect to be nominated just hoped to publicise what he was working on. Winners will be announced 15th March 2018.

In other news

  • In January 2018, members of the University of Edinburgh branch of University and Colleges Union (UCU) voted in favour of strike action and action short of a strike. This action is in support of UCU’s opposition to University UK’s proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

General information including dates of planned strike

More information on the industrial action


  • With snow warnings issued across many parts of Scotland, staff are reminded that they can consult the University’s Adverse Weather Policy.

University’s Adverse Weather Policy


The University will be closed all day on Thursday 1 March.

In the Informatics Forum

The Forum has had has been visited by the Fire Response Team Scotland because thanks to a few false alarms caused by the food being (over)heated in microwaves and the fumes triggering nearby smoke sensors. To avoid that in the future and properly comply with fire regulations the kitchenette doors should always be closed when you’re using the microwaves or the toasters, as the corridors are fire exit routes, but anyone heating food in microwaves should ensure this is the case. Microwaves should not be in use in any other areas of the building.

A number of building works are currently carried out in the vicinity of the Forum. Please check the estates weekly newsletter for the updates on building works.

Estates weekly headlines

Outreach and Public Engagement

  • The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) is looking to improve support for academics who want to engage the public through social media, and they currently have a call for evidence. Their current desk-based research suggests that social media use is mainly for peer-to-peer networking and dissemination, and far less activity invites collaboration with non-specialist groups. Have they missed anything in their research to date? Evidence received by 6th March will be used within a "What Works" event in Birmingham on 27th March.

The Call for Evidence

'Social media – a ‘go-go’ or ‘no-go’ for quality public engagement?'


  • Call for PhD students to participate in Sutton trust Summer School! Applications have opened for the roles of Group Leader and Senior Group Leader this year. Group Leader positions provide an exciting paid opportunity for students to develop leadership skills by working with 120 young people during a 5-day residential summer school. The summer school is running from Sunday 1st July - Friday 6th July and there is so much to get involved with! You will generally work the same hours each day and either work morning/afternoon, afternoon/evening, or evening/overnight (further details are included in the job descriptions).

If you are interested in applying, you can find full details on MyCareerHub:

Group Leader role

Senior Group Leader role


  • EIE 2018 – Engage Invest Exploit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The very first conference took place in the Appleton Tower and over the years has grown to become the biggest tech investor conference of its type outside of London. This year’s edition takes place on 19th April and will be attended by 800+ delegates – a mix of international investors, innovative young businesses and a distinguished business audience. Daytime keynotes include tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley and Eileen Burbridge, one of the UK’s most influential VC’s, founding partner of Passion Capital & Chair of TechCity. For more details and to book your ticket visit the EIE website.

EIE 2018


  • Prof Dan Sorin from Duke University is delivering a series of 4 Leverhulme lectures on Fault Tolerant Computer Architecture on 19th, 20th, 21st and 23rd March at noon (first two in IF 1.15, last two in IF 1.16). Daniel J. Sorin is the Addy Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Computer Science at Duke University, and he is on sabbatical at the University of Edinburgh in 2017-8. His research interests are in computer architecture, with a focus on fault tolerance, verification, and memory system design. He is the author of 'Fault Tolerant Computer Architecture' and a co-author of 'A Primer on Memory Consistency and Cache Coherence'.  He received a PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and he received a BSE in electrical engineering from Duke University.  He is the recipient of an NSF Career Award and the 2011 Imhoff Distinguished Teaching Award.


  • The University of Edinburgh annual lecture series seeks to celebrate International Women's Day featuring inspiring women speakers of international reputation. Following the success of our previous seven Lectures, the speaker for the eighth in this series for International Women's Day 2018 is Anne Richards, CVO, CBE, FRSE Chief Executive Officer of M&G Investments, and Vice-Convener of University of Edinburgh Court. The theme for the lecture is “Investing for everyone - can Finance help close the gender equality gap?”

Book tickets


  • The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Paolo Perona, Chair of Environmental Engineering will be held at 5.30pm on Thursday, 12th April 2018 in Lecture Theatre 2, Hudson Beare Building, The King’s Buildings (Reception afterwards will be held in Classroom 2 & 3, Sanderson Building). All are welcome to attend, please confirm attendance by email to Louise Farquharson.

Contact Louise

Guess who?

Which member of staff is a Cape Wine Master (there’s only 80 of them in the world)?

Wine has no secret for her...


Keep in Touch

For all the latest news, keep an eye on our website and social media channels!

Informatics Communications team website



Edinburgh Informatics Alumni group on LinkedIn


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