About us

The Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation (ANC) is part of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.


ANC was formed in 1998 when the School of Informatics was created out of five previous departments and centres.  ANC evolved from Prof. David Willshaw's research group, the Centre for Neural Systems, originally part of the Centre for Cognitive Science.  Prof. Willshaw was the founding Director of Institute (1998–2004), Prof. Chris Williams was Director of Institute 2004–2012, and Dr. Nigel Goddard was Director of Institute 2012–2019.  The director between 2019-2022 was Matthias Hennig and the current Director of Institute is Douglas Armstrong.

The Institute

ANC fosters the study of adaptive processes in both artificial and biological systems. It encourages interdisciplinary and collaborative work involving the traditional disciplines of neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, computational science, mathematics and statistics.

Many of the information-processing tasks under study draw on a common set of principles and mathematical techniques for their solution. Combined study of the adaptive nature of artificial and biological systems facilitates the many benefits accruing from treating essentially the same problem from different perspectives.

A principal theme is the study of artificial learning systems. This includes theoretical foundations (e.g. statistical theory, information theory), the development of new models and algorithms, and applications.

A second principal theme is the analysis and modelling of brain processes at all levels of organization with a particular focus on theoretical developments which span levels. Within this theme, research areas are broadly defined as the study of the neural foundations of perception, cognition and action and their underlying developmental processes.

A secondary theme is the construction and study of computational tools and methods which can support studies in the two principal themes, such as in the analysis of brain data, simulation of networks and parallel data mining.