Distinguished Speaker: Australia, Columbia and Thailand

This Saturday Professor Aaron Quigley will deliver a keynote talk on Global Human Computer Interaction at the Thai SIGCHI Symposium in Bangkok. This is the first symposium of the Bangkok ACM SIGCHI Chapter which aims to connect the Thai UX and HCI communities together with those beyond their borders. This talk is part of the Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

In May, Professor Quigley will travel to Melbourne and Sydney Australia as part of the ACM DSP program. First, he will deliver a talk on the Future of Interaction at the Melbourne Knowledge Week followed by a “fireside chat” and panel in the University of Melbourne and finally a seminar in the University of Sydney. His talks will cover a number of areas of research he explores with his colleagues and students in SACHI, the St Andrews Computer Human Interaction research group.

In August, Aaron has been invited to deliver a keynote at the 5th Workshop on ICTs for improving Patients Rehabilitation Research Techniques in Popayán, Colombia. This talk will focus on some of Aaron’s more recent, and unpublished research, in augmenting interactions in AR and his older work on technology for rehabilitation and older people.

Professor Quigley is currently on sabbatical in the National University of Singapore but he will attend the CHI 2019 conference in Glasgow this May with SACHI colleagues and graduate students presenting their latest research.

Encoding Egyptian quadrats in Unicode

Unicode 12, released 5th March 2019, includes 9 control characters for Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic text. These resulted from an initiative by Dr. Mark-Jan Nederhof (St Andrews) and Egyptologists at the University of Liège, CNAM (Paris) and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, in collaboration with Unicode experts. The control characters allow hieroglyphs to be arranged horizontally and vertically much as in original inscriptions. This removes the foremost obstacle to adoption of Unicode in Egyptology.

The control characters:

Although existing fonts are not yet able to interpret the control characters directly, hieroglyphic text can now be displayed on web pages with the help of JavaScript:

Lao Characters for Pali added to Unicode 12

Congratulations to Vinodh Rajan, Ben Mitchell, Martin Jansche and Sascha Brawer on their successful proposal for additions to the repertoire of ISO/IEC 10646, which will see Pali letters added to Lao in Unicode 12. As a result, it is now possible to write both Pali/Sanskrit in Lao and represent the entire Tripitaka in the Lao script. The proposal (https://bit.ly/2TE2XKJ) submitted in 2017 was finally added to the Unicode standard this year.

Vinodh explained that the proposal allows four things. Firstly, one can now transcribe liturgical Pali (the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism) texts and by extension the whole Pali Tripitaka (the Theravada Buddhist canon) in the Lao script without any distortion, providing lay people accurate access to these liturgical texts. Previously, the texts had to go through some sort of distortion due to the lack of appropriate characters, which means they had to be approximated. Secondly, it allows people who would want to use etymological orthography for Lao (it currently uses a phonemic orthography) access to the necessary additional characters. Thirdly, there are several books printed (mostly in the 1930’s) using the expanded alphabet that need to be eventually digitized. This will enable their proper digitization by allow plain-text representation of all the Lao characters. Lastly, it will improve the transliteration accuracy between Lao and neighboring scripts like Thai and Khmer.

The expanded Lao alphabet can be found here:

Vinodh, a St Andrews Computer Science alumnus completed his PhD in 2016. His thesis, Quantifying scribal behavior : a novel approach to digital paleography was supervised by Dr Mark-Jan Nederhof.

Back to normal

The School will be fully open as normal from around 0800 tomorrow, Thursday 14 February.  We’re running on generator power as a result of the weekend’s fire in Chemistry, but this will be sufficient to run all our lights, alarms, systems, and other equipment. There may need to be some restrictions in 24-hour lab access, but we’re hopeful that this won’t be necessary.

Thank you everyone for your patience and understanding, as well as to all the staff in the School and the wider University who’ve both minimised the disruption and got us back into operation so quickly.


Prof Simon Dobson
Head of School for Computer Science

Reduced service because of fire

As you may be aware, there was a fire over the weekend in the School of Chemistry. While this has not led to any physical damage in Computer Science, it has meant we’ve lost all power and access to our main Jack Cole building.

The School is still open and functioning as normally as possible. Classes are being relocated to other rooms in the University whenever possible. However, staff have no access to their offices (or phones), and we will be cancelling all non-essential meetings or events.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience. We expect to be back running again as normal by the end of the week. I’m happy to (try to) answer any questions you may have.


Prof Simon Dobson
Head of School for Computer Science


Paul-Olivier Dehaye: From Cambridge Analytica to the future of online services: a personal journey (School Seminar)

Event details

  • When: 19th March 2019 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar


2018 was a crazy year for privacy. The General Data Protection Regulation came into force in May, and new revelations on the personal data ecosystem were making headlines on a weekly basis. I will give the behind the scenes for a lot of these events, question why they didn’t happen earlier, and offer some thoughts on the necessary future of online services. This will include a brief discussion of topics such as semantic alignment, interpretable machine learning, or new privacy-preserving data processing techniques.

Speaker Bio:

Paul-Olivier Dehaye is a mathematician by training. Affiliated to the University of Zurich as a SNSF Assistant Professor until 2016, his career then took a turn towards data protection activism and social entrepreneurship. He was the researcher on several news articles who have reached millions of readers (including many with Carole Cadwalladr), and testified in front of the UK and EU Parliaments on multiple occasions. He is on the board of MyData Global, has founded the NGO PersonalData.IO, and the project MyData Geneva.

Dr Juan Ye: Lifelong Learning in Human Activity Recognition

Dr Juan Ye will be running an online event for IEEE SMC (Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society) on Lifelong Learning. The technical seminar, designed to focus on future research trends in human activity recognition, will take place on Friday 1st February from 2.00pm – 3.00pm.

Seminar Details: Human activity recognition systems will be increasingly deployed in real-world environments and for longer periods of time. This significantly challenges current approaches to human activity recognition, which have to account for changes in activity routines, evolution of situations, and of sensing technologies. Driven by these challenges, this webinar will argue the need to move beyond learning to lifelong machine learning – with the ability to incrementally and continuously adapt to changes in the environment being learned. We will introduce a conceptual framework for lifelong machine learning to structure various relevant proposals in the area, and identify some key research challenges that remain.

Read more about the event and joining instructions through IEEE online.