Informatics Seminars 2019/20

2019/20 Semester Two

  • Please refer to the campus map for the exact location of lecture rooms.
  • Please pay attention to the change of venue: The first 4 seminars (January 17th, 24th, 31st, and February 7th) will take place in BEN LT2 (Bennett Lecture Theatre 2) and the other seminars will be in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 3 (KE LT3) unless specified otherwise.

Fri Jan 17, 14:00 (Host: Thomas Erlebach)

Sara Kalvala (University of Warwick)

Title: Constraint Satisfaction for Synthetic Biology

Abstract: Design of synthetic genetic circuits which actually work is a much too complex task to have a straightforward algorithmic solution: what is needed is an approach that navigates through the many, sometimes conflicting, factors that inform the feasibility of a design. It is not realistic to hard-wire such factors into CAD tools, as many of these factors are the result of a fluid state of knowledge, and others are very context-specific.

Computer scientists have developed a sophisticated framework to capture this situation, called Constraint Satisfaction. I will present several experiments in using Constraint Satisfaction to capture different aspects of bio-design, from capturing sequence rules that disallow certain DNA sequences or optimize codon use, to rules that capture desired dynamic biochemical properties.

Fri Jan 24, 14:00 (Host: Genovefa Kefalidou)

Alan Dix (Swansea University)

Title: Deep Digitality, and Digital Thinking

Abstract: In an ACM Interactions column and an Irish HCI keynote I have explored Deep Digitality, an approach to the radical re-imagination of large scale systems of society: manufacturing, healthcare, government and healthcare.  Deep Digitality takes the counter-factual premise asking what these systems would be like of digital technology had preceded the industrial revolution, the Medicis or even Hippocrates.  Paradoxically, in some of these digital-first scenarios, digital technology is sparse and yet there is clearly a digital mindset at play.  It is the kind of thinking that underlies some of the more radical digital apps and products, and builds on the assumptions of a world where computation and sensing are cheap, communication and information are pervasive, and digital fabrication is mainstream. This digital thinking connects with other 'thinkings' (computational, design, management, systems) and but appears distinct – less focused on decomposition and engineering than computational thinking, but more principle rather than process driven than design thinking.  I have been trying to distill some of the defining features and heuristic principles of Digital Thinking and this talk captures some of this nascent work in progress.

Material: Slides, Deep Digitality Microsite, Digital Thinking Microsite

Fri Jan 31, 14:00 (Host: Effie Law)

Leandro Minku (University of Birmingham)

Title: Cross-Project Prediction of Defect-Inducing Software Changes

Abstract: Software systems have become ever larger and more complex. This inevitably leads to software defects, which are very costly to debug and fix. Reducing the number of software defects (and their high debugging cost) is a challenging problem. To help with that, machine learning approaches have been proposed for predicting defect-inducing changes in software source code at commit time. By inspecting such changes at commit time, developers can reduce the chances of introducing defects in the code that are much more costly to debug and fix at later stages. While results in this field are promising, building such defect prediction models requires a sufficient amount of training data that is not available at the beginning of a software project. A potential solution is to use data from other projects (cross-project data) to help building better classifiers. However, it is unknown to what extent cross-project data can be helpful in realistic online learning scenarios, where within-project software changes arrive continuously and can be used to update the predictive models over time. In particular, it is unknown whether cross-project data are only useful during the very initial phase of the project when there is little within-project data, or whether they could be helpful for extended periods of time. In this talk, I will present the first study of when and to what extent cross-project data are useful for prediction of defect-inducing software changes in a realistic online learning scenario. Three cross-project approaches that can operate in online mode will be introduced. The study shows that cross-project data can lead to improvements in predictive performance especially in the initial stages of the projects, and can prevent large drops in predictive performance that may occur at later periods of the projects.

Fri Feb 7, 14:00 (Host: Hongji Yang)

Boguslaw Obara (Durham University)

Title: BioImage Informatics: Where BioImaging Meets Computer Science

Abstract: Recent advances in biomedical imaging technologies are now enabling us to acquire image data, where the sheer size and complexity of the data exceeds the capacity of human analysis, creating a fundamental barrier that hinders the potential impact of imaging-enabled biology and medicine. New revolutions in the field can be made possible only by developing the tools, technologies and workflows to extract and exploit information from imaging data so as to achieve new fundamental biomedical insights and understanding, as well as developing possible strategies in biotechnological applications.

Here, we propose to integrate bioimaging data and bioimage informatics to investigate the multi-scale topology and dynamics of complex biomedical systems. In partnership with leading biomedical research groups, we have developed a wide range of high-throughput image informatics approaches specifically designed to enhance, extract, analyse, visualise, and model a wide range of biomedical structures from multidimensional images obtained by a wide spectrum of imaging modalities.

Fri Feb 14, 14:00 (Host: Huiyu Zhou)

Jerry Shen (Queen's University Belfast)

TitleIntelligent Multimedia Recommendation

Abstract: Due to the rapid growth of multimedia big data and related novel applications, intelligent recommendation systems have become more and more important in our daily life. During last decades, various technologies have been developed by different research communities (e.g., multimedia systems, information retrieval, and machine learning). Meanwhile, recommendation techniques have been successfully leveraged by commercial systems (e.g., Amazon, YouTube, Spotify and to assist general users to deal with information overload and provide them high quality contents, interactions and services. In this talk, I plan to,

  • Introduce why advanced recommendation system is important for Web scale multimedia retrieval, understanding and sharing.
  • Review current commercial systems and research prototypes, focusing on comparing the advantages and the disadvantages of the various strategies and schemes for different types of media documents (e.g., image, video, audio and text) and their composition.
  • Review key challenges and technical issues in building and evaluating modern recommendation systems under different contexts.
  • Discuss and review various limitations of the current generation of systems.
  • Make predictions about the road that lies ahead for the scholarly exploration and industrial practice in multimedia and other related communities.

I also plan to have open discussion on several promising research directions with significant technical importance and explore potential solution.

Fri Feb 21, 14:00 (Host: Reiko Heckel)

Nicolas Behr (CRI Paris)

Title: Rewriting theory for the applied and life sciences

Abstract: The sophisticated framework offered by categorical rewriting theory over adhesive categories in principle permits to unify the theoretical description of many rewriting processes of relevance in the applied sciences. Prototypical examples should in particular include social network models as well as organo- and biochemical reaction systems. However, despite their rich over 40 year long history, to date rewriting theories must be considered still a somewhat exotic approach within these important application fields. In this talk, I will present a partial remedy for this conceptual divide. Based upon the so-called rule algebra framework, it is possible to formulate a principled theory of stochastic mechanics that parallels closely the general theory of continuous-time Markov chains. A quintessential technical ingredient for this construction is the recently introduced compositional rewriting theory for the setting of rewriting with conditions on objects and rewriting rules. It is via this approach that datatypes such as e.g. binary trees, chemical and Kappa (biochemistry) graphs may be faithfully encoded. I will give a number of first application results and novel algorithmic developments to illustrate the utility of rewriting theory in the study of complex dynamical systems.

Fri March 6, 14:00 (Host: Yudong Zhang)

Shuai Li (Swansea University)

Title: Learning and Control of Advanced Robots

Abstract: Robot systems are becoming increasingly affordable and using them to perform various tasks is popular in both industry and our daily lives. In recent years, it captured great attention to use machine learning for advanced robot control. However, the existing machine learning paradigm, which relies much on offline training, a huge amount of data, face challenges when applied to robotics, which requires timely control with safety and performance guarantee. This talk will present our recent results and insights on the establishment of a generic framework integrating control and learning, with the certification of performance

Bio: Shuai (Steven) Li received the B.E. degree in electrical engineering from the Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, China, in 2005, the M.E. degree in control engineering from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, in 2008, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, USA, in 2014. He is presently an associate professor with Swansea University, leading a team working on robotics and machine learning.

Wed March 11, 14:30, Room BEN LT5 (Host: Lu Liu)

Prof. Gilbert Owusu (Head of Service and Operational Transformation Research at BT)

Title: Transforming BT's operations with AI

Note: As BT are offering industrial final-year projects and MSc projects for our undergraduate and postgraduate students, if the students are interested in BT projects, placement and job opportunities, they are welcome to attend the talk.

Fri March 13, 14:00 (Host: Effie Law)

Mateusz Bocian (University of Leicester)

TitlePedestrian loading on bridges – a multidisciplinary approach

Abstract: Modelling pedestrian loading on bridges remains a concern. This is because pedestrians can interact with vibrating bridges, leading to the amplification of structural response. Furthermore, pedestrians can interact with one another, leading to some emergent phenomena potentially detrimental to the dynamic structural stability. In this talk we will put to tests some myths around the nature of pedestrian dynamic loading on vibrating bridges, uncover the complexities of pedestrian-to-structure and pedestrian-to-pedestrian interactions, and discuss the developments at the forefront of the research filed, including those involving virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Fri March 27, 14:00 (Host: Mohammad Mousavi)

Hana Chockler (King's College London)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Fri May 1, 14:00 (Host: Effie Law)

Julien Maffre (Microsoft Research Cambridge)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Fri May 15, 14:00 (Host: Effie Law)

Jo Iacovides (University of York)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Fri May 22, 14:00 (Host: Huiyu Zhou)

Jungong Han (University of Warwick)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Fri May 29, 14:00 (Host: Effie Law)

Thomas Jun (University of Loughborough)

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

2019/20 Semester One

  • Please refer to the campus map for the exact location of lecture rooms.
  • Please pay attention to the change of venue: The first 4 seminars (October 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th) will take place in KE LT1 (Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 1) and the other seminars will be in Astley Clarke Lecture Theatre (AC LT).

Fri October 4, 14:00 in KE LT1 (Host: Jan Oliver Ringert)

Catherine Menon (University of Hertfordshire)

Title: Ethically-informed Safety-Critical Development for Autonomous Vehicles

Abstract:The development of autonomous vehicles requires careful consideration of the ethical issues involved. These include questions of risk criteria, risk consent and risk / benefit trade-offs, and the ethical decisions made during development will have a significant impact on the eventual behaviour of the AV. In this talk I discuss a framework for embedding explicit discussion of ethical considerations within the AV safety case.

Fri Oct 11, 14:00 in KE LT1 (Host: Effie Law)

Björn W. Schuller (University of Augsburg, Germany, and Imperial College London)

Title: AI meets Voice - The Geheimwaffe of mHealth?

Abstract: Regarding our voice as biomarker for a plethora for health states may seem less expected at first. Yet, more than a decade of competition challenges organised by the speaker and his colleagues have repeatedly unveiled the voice’s enormous potential in this role: Earlier prediction of neurodevelopmental to neurodegenerative disorders and a remarkable selection of psychological disorders could already be demonstrated feasible to some degree when meshing modern signal processing and machine learning for voice analysis. In addition, the voice bears information on our emotion, personality, and manifold further states and traits of the one using it. In this talk, we will first go through the latest and greatest in Computational Paralinguistics – mixing Artificial Intelligence and Speech Analysis. We will then move to the specific requirements arising from exploiting this encouraging blend in the domain of mobile health, or mHealth for short. Automated voice analysis in everyday settings for health monitoring indeed is quite a challenge beyond data privacy and robustness. “Green” efficient computing and explainability are yet two further recent grand challenges to be faced at this moment. Solving these challenges, however, may be rewarded by an oncoming age of real-time on-site unobtrusive and non-invasive health monitoring available to most of us anytime and anywhere – the secret weapon of mobile health?

Fri Oct 18, 14:00 in KE LT1 (Host: Effie Law)

Nadia Berthouze (University College London)

Title: Body movement technology as a rich modality to capture and regulate emotional experiences

Abstract: With the emergence of full-body sensing technology come new opportunities to support people’s affective experiences and needs. In my talk, I will present our work on technology for chronic pain management and discuss how such technology can lead to more effective physical rehabilitation through integrating it in everyday activities and supporting people at both physical and affective levels. I will also discuss how this sensing technology enables us to go beyond simply measuring one’s behaviour by exploiting embodied bottom-up mechanisms that enhance the perception of one’s body and its capabilities.

Fri Oct 25, 14:00 in KE LT1 (Host: Effie Law)

Alexandra Cristea (Durham University)

Title: Learning Analytics: Challenges and Successes

Abstract: With the advent of big data, user and customer analytics are brought to the forefront of several areas, such as Computer Science, Statistics, and Psychology, to name but a few. Within this, an emerging important area is that of learner analytics, a new field enabled by the recent advances in analytical and visualisation tools for big data, and the improved data formats and advances in computing technology [according to the Higher Education Academic in UK]. Learner Analytics refers to the measuring, collecting and analysis of data about learners and their environments, with the aim of improving teaching and learning practices, usually in online environments. This talk uncovers this exciting new field of research, discussing challenges, success stories, specific aims and goals in the context of education, and future developments. Some recent results on MOOCs are also presented.

Fri Nov 1, 14:00 in AC LT

Fri Nov 8, 14:00 in AC LT (Host: Genovefa Kefalidou)

Panos Koutsouras (Sony)

Title: User research at PlayStation

Abstract: This talk is about the convergence of use research and the gaming industry, with a particular focus on how user research is practiced within PlayStation. I will first cover what testing usability means in the context of video games and how it differs from traditional user experience. I will then walk you through the services we provide to our first and second party studios, and more specifically on how these services fit within the development lifecycle of video games.

Bio.: Panos studied Information Technologies in his home country, Greece, but made a switch to Human Computer Interaction through an MSc programme at the University of York. Through this experience, he got hooked with research and decided to pursue a PhD in Digital Economy, which he acquired on 2017. His passion for research and video games led to his current position at PlayStation, where he works as a User Researcher.

Fri Nov 15, 14:00 in AC LT

Fri Nov 22, 14:00 in AC LT (Host: Jose Rojas Siles)

Maria Angela Ferrario (Lancaster University)

Title: Human Values in Software Engineering

Human values, such as prestige, social justice, and financial success, influence software production decision-making processes. While their subjectivity makes some values difficult to measure, their impact on software -and of software on society -motivates my research. This talk makes the case for the study of human values in software production and offers two key principles in order to advance this research agenda. Firstly, the significance of values as distinguished from, though connected to, ethics; and secondly, the need for clear theoretical to values study. It then introduces a selection of tools and techniques that have been designed in accordance with these two principles and used with computing professionals from research, education, and industry. It concludes with discussion around lessons learnt, ongoing challenges, and future directions. Website:

Maria Angela is a Lecturer at the School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University, she works at the intersection of  software engineering (SE) and human computer interaction (HCI) and is an experienced project manager both within and outside academia. Her research adopts agile, and participatory methods to technology development and examines the role of digital technology in environmental and societal changes. Her professional and academic background includes intelligent on-line systems and multimedia systems design, social psychology and philosophy.

Fri Nov 29, 14:00 in AC LT

Fri Dec 6, 14:00 in AC LT (Host: Mohammad Mousavi)

Juriaan Rot (University College London and Open University, the Netherlands)

Title: Coalgebra Learning via Duality

Automata learning is a popular technique for inferring minimal automata through membership and equivalence queries. We generalise learning from automata to a large class of state-based systems, using the theory of coalgebras. The approach relies on the use of logical formulas as tests, based on a dual adjunction between states and logical theories. This allows us to learn, e.g., labelled transition systems.

Joint work with Clemens Kupke and Simone Barlocco.

Fri Dec 13, 14:00 in AC LT (Host: Genovefa Kefalidou)

Stuart Reeves (University of Nottingham)

Title: How UX practitioners produce findings in usability testing

Abstract: Usability testing has long been a core interest of HCI research and forms a key element of industry practice. Yet our knowledge of it presents striking absences. There are few, if any detailed accounts of the contingent, material ways in which usability testing is actually practiced. Further, it is rare that industry practitioners' testing work is treated as indigenous and particular (instead subordinated as a 'compromised' version). In order to begin tackling these absences I present an ethnomethodological study of usability testing practices in a design consultancy. By using an ethnomethodological approach we can unpack how findings are produced in and as the work of observers analysing the test as it unfolds between moderators taking participants through relevant tasks. This study nuances conventional views of usability findings as straightforwardly 'there to be found' or 'read off' by competent evaluators. Primarily I will explore how evaluators / observers collaboratively work to locate relevant troubles in the test's unfolding. In the course of doing this work, the talk also investigates how potential candidate troubles may routinely be dissipated and effectively passed over in one way or another. The implications of this work suggest refinements to current understandings of usability evaluations, and affirm the value to HCI in studying industry practitioners more deeply.

Fri Dec 20, 14:00 in AC LT

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