The technology driving the evolution of internet advertising, targeted advertising or intrusive surveillance?

Event details

  • When: 27th February 2017 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33
  • Format: Colloquium, Seminar


 Tim Palmer read Computational Science in St Andrews graduating in 1993.

 Initially working for Oracle in London then San Francisco, he went on to work in Investment Banking Technology for over a decade.

 Most recently Tim was CTO for The Exchange Lab – a programmatic marketing company.

 He is now Senior Partner in Digiterre, a technology consultancy working for a wide variety of software projects across London.



 In 1997 internet advertising consisted of simple “click me” banner adverts.

 By 2011 around two hundred digital marketing firms followed us around the internet encouraging us to “complete that purchase”.

 Today more than four thousand technology firms provide marketing technology seemingly to help us keep track of The Kardashians.

 In the seminar, a simple HTML and JavaScript snippet will be used to explain the basics of digital marketing; how these building blocks are making fortunes for some and providing free internet for everyone; and how the technology presents a real challenge to protect our online privacy.

 Or to put it another way, the 8 Most Shocking Secrets of Digital Marketing – you won’t believe the 7th one.


Success in the Laidlaw Undergraduate Internship Programme in Research and Leadership

Congratulations to Patrick Schrempf and Billy Brown who have been successful in their applications for a Laidlaw Undergraduate Internship in Research and Leadership for 2017. You can read further details about Billy and Patrick below.

Billy Brown:

I’m a fourth year Computer Science student from Belgium with too much interest for the subject. I play and referee korfball for the university, and I am fascinated by Old English and Norse history and mythology. I plan on using the Laidlaw Internship programme to get into the field of Computer Science research.

Project summary:

The Essence Domain Inference project aims to improve automated decision making by optimising the understanding of the statements used to define a problem specification. As part of the compilation of the high level Essence specification language, this project would tighten the domains to which a specified problem applies, with a domain inference algorithm.

The work is very much in the context of the recently-announced EPSRC grant working on automated constraint modelling in an attempt to advance the state of the art in solving complex combinatorial search problems. The modelling pipeline is akin to a compiler in that we refine a specification in the Essence language Billy mentions down to a number of powerful solving formalisms. The work Billy plan is to improve the refinement process and therefore the performance of the solvers, leading to higher quality solutions more quickly.

Patrick Schrempf:
I am currently a third year Computer Science student from Vienna. After enjoying doing research with the St Andrews Computer Human Interaction (SACHI) group last year, I am looking forward to the Laidlaw Internship Programme. Apart from research and studying, I enjoy training and competing with the Triathlon Club and the Pool Society.


Project summary:

This project will explore Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) which aims to create artificial intelligence and machine learning models that are combined with effective explanations. Currently most models of artificial intelligence are very intricate and complex, on the contrary using XAI models will enable their users to build a better understanding of the AI components and the system as a whole.

This project builds on Patrick’s work in RadarCat which employed machine learning techniques for material and object classification which enables new forms of everyday proximate interaction with digital devices. RadarCat (Radar Categorization for Input & Interaction) was published at ACM UIST 2016 in Tokyo, Japan, Yeo, H.-S., Flamich, G., Schrempf, P., Harris-Birtill, D., and Quigley, A. (2016) RadarCat: Radar Categorization for Input & Interaction. In Proceedings of the 29th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology New York, NY, USA: ACM UIST ’16.

Chris Norval wins best paper at Mining Online Health Reports workshop

St Andrews researchers Chris Norval and Tristan Henderson won the Best Paper award at the Mining Online Health Reports workshop, part of the ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM 2017). The workshop brought together experts from academia, industry and the health sector to discuss techniques and future priorities for analysing online data for health research.

Norval and Henderson’s paper argued that the successful exploitation of people’s social data requires new and usable methods of obtaining consent, and proposed the use of machine learning algorithms to predict when someone is likely to give consent for their data to be used. This work forms part of a Wellcome Trust funded project on understanding consent for sharing health data over online social networks.

 “Unfrying your brain with F#”  Andrea Magnorsky, Workday Software Ltd

Event details

  • When: 6th March 2017 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Format: Colloquium, Seminar


 F#, just like other non-pure functional languages, allows you find the sweet spot between FP practices and OO language pragmatism. Most of the advanced features of F# give you the power to change the language and to introduce a higher level of abstraction to your code. In this talk, we will discuss active patterns, computation expressions, parsers, using type providers and more. These language features help you make your code simpler and easier to maintain.



 I ended up as a Software Developer, I am pretty sure there was no other viable option. My current technical interests are F#, games, programming languages and philosophy of computing .

I really enjoy finding different ways to write code, sometimes for performance, other times for succinctness, sometimes, just because you can, there is no better way to learn than trying.

When I am not working I tend to play with Haskell or other languages or cats

Seminar: The technology driving the evolution of internet advertising, targeted advertising or intrusive surveillance?

Event details

  • When: 27th February 2017 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Series: CS Colloquia Series
  • Format: Seminar

“The technology driving the evolution of internet advertising, targeted advertising or intrusive surveillance?”

 Tim Palmer, Senior Partner, Digiterre (


School of Computer Science – PhD Scholarships

The School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews offers funding for up to six students to undertake PhD research starting in the Fall of 2017 in any of the areas of research carried out by its academic faculty (which includes, but is not limited to, Artificial Intelligence and Symbolic Computation, Computer Systems Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, and Programming Languages).

We are looking for highly motivated research students willing to be part of a diverse and supportive research community.

Applicants must hold a BSc or MSc in an area appropriate for their proposed topic of study (usually Computer Science, but not restricted to it). The Scholarship covers PhD fees and provides a tax-free maintenance stipend of £14,296 per year for 3.5 years. Exceptional students can apply for an additional £2,000 per year. International applications are welcome.

We especially encourage female applicants and underrepresented minorities to apply. Admission is competitive but candidate selection takes into account the motivation, skills and previous experience of the candidates. If you are interested, please get in contact with us by e-mail even if you are not sure of your eligibility or strength as a candidate (write an e-mail to Subject: Informal PhD Inquiry). We will facilitate contact with a member of research staff in your area of interest (for a list of existing faculty and areas of research see

For further information, including the step-by-step procedure on how to apply please check our postgraduate-research web page ( The closing date for applications is March 31st 2017 and we will make decisions on studentship allocation by April 30th 2017. Before preparing a full application we recommend that you contact us by e-mail at

SACHI Seminar: The design of digital technologies to support transitional events in the human lifespan

Event details

  • When: 14th February 2017 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Format: Seminar

Title:  The design of digital technologies to support transitional events in the human lifespan

Abstract:  This talk will focus on (i) qualitative research undertaken to understand how digital technologies are being used during transitional periods across the human lifespan, such as becoming an adult, romantic breakup, and end of life, and (ii) the opportunities for technology design that have emerged as a result. Areas of focus include presentation of self online, group social norms, and the problematic nature of ‘ownership’ of digital materials.

Biography – Professor Wendy Moncur, FRSA:  I hold an Interdisciplinary Chair in Digital Living at the University of Dundee, where I work across Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. I am also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and an Associate of the Centre for Death and Society (University of Bath).

The work of my group, Living Digital ( is grounded in Human Computer Interaction, and focuses on human experiences enacted in a digital age – for example, becoming an adult, becoming a parent, relationship breakdown, and the end of life.

I have been involved in grants totalling £2.7 Million since 2011, through an EPSRC Personal Fellowship and as a Principal Investigator/Co-investigator. Full details of my publications can be found at My next large research project, ‘TAPESTRY’, is funded under the EPSRC TIPS program, and explores normative online behaviour in social groups.

Announcement of the 33rd British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science

The 33rd BCTCS will be hosted by the School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, from the 26th to the 28th of April 2017. The purpose of BCTCS is to provide a forum in which researchers in theoretical computer science can meet, present research findings, and discuss developments in the field. It also aims to provide an environment in which PhD students can gain experience in presenting their work, and benefit from contact with established researchers.

The scope of the colloquium includes all aspects of theoretical computer science, including algorithms, complexity, cryptography, formal methods, game theory, machine learning, languages, logics and quantum computation. Both computer scientists and mathematicians are welcome to attend, as are participants from outside of the UK.

This year the colloquium will feature the following invited speakers

LMS Keynote Lecture in Discrete Mathematics

Professor László Babai, University of Chicago

Confirmed Speakers
Perdita Stevens, University of Edinburgh
Conor McBride, University of Strathclyde
Felix Fischer, University of Glasgow
Edwin Brady, University of St Andrews
Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh, Queen Mary University of London

Registration is *now open*, and you can find more information at

PhD students are especially encouraged to offer a talk.

As an additional event, there will be a Scottish Combinatorics Meeting at the School of Mathematics in St Andrews on the 24th and 25th of April. If you would like to take part in the meeting, please contact the organisers directly.

The organisers hope to welcome you to St Andrews in April.