Doors Open Event Success

We had a wonderful time yesterday at the Doors Open day. We welcomed more than 200 visitors who were interested in learning more about our programs, facilities, and research.

We showcased some of our cutting-edge projects in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and software engineering. Our visitors had the chance to interact with virtual reality systems, and smart devices. They also learned about the ethical and social implications of these technologies.

Special Thanks to Ruth Hoffmann, Ken Boyd and Kirsty Ross who organised the event. We would also like to thank everyone who attended the doors open day and made it a success. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us at collaborate-cs@st-andrews.ac.uk.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

The Schools of Computer Science and Mathematics & Statistics are now an Institutional Member of the European Women in Mathematics

The Schools of Computer Science and Mathematics & Statistics are now an Institutional Member of the European Women in Mathematics (EWM). The EWM is an association dedicated to encouraging women to study mathematics and related sciences (such as computer science), supporting them in their careers and promoting scientific communication.

Being an Institutional Member supports the EWM in their mission and promotes the role of women in mathematics and related fields while strengthening connections across the European community of mathematicians (which is the primary goal of the EWM). “With the help of our institutional members we are able to empower more female mathematicians by offering travel grants, organize panel discussions and providing a platform to communicate.”

If you would like to find out more about the EWM or how the Schools support Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, please get in touch with the ED&I officers or Ruth Hoffmann who is a EWM country coordinator for the UK.

Open Virtual Worlds Impact Innovation Funding Success

Dr Alan Miller and Catherine Anne Cassidy of the Open Virtual Worlds research group have been successful in funding from the Impact Innovation Fund for their project “Evidencing and Amplifying Impact of Immersive Exhibits in Highlands and Islands Museums”. The project will evaluate the value of digital heritage engagement with virtual reality exhibitions and further develop opportunities to preserve and promote cultural heritage in the highlands and islands of Scotland. Collaborative activities and approaches trialled are intended to discover ways to maximise positive impact. Exhibits are part of the Northern Heritage Network, which provides an infrastructure for transnational collaboration of heritage organisations to preserve and promote heritage within and beyond the North Sea region. The geographical focus of the network is: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Island of Ireland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and the Baltic countries.

Lockdown and COVID-19 meant that the focus of the heritage sector was how to connect with audiences remotely. Whether this be through live online events, social media, virtual tours or other means. In the coming year there is much emphasis on sustainability and on the return of visitors to museums.

Evidence prior to COVID-19 shows that such exhibits have a positive impact in: communicating heritage, improving the sustainability of museums, improving visitor numbers and contributing to the wider Scottish economy. This is recognised by museums who are setting aside valuable space, and time to host immersive exhibits in the coming year. Through developing, deploying and using immersive exhibits we will enhance the “within walls” museum experience with the following impacts:

  • Create digital heritage assets: including 3D models, historic scenes and records of intangible heritage.
  • Improve the way that heritage is communicated.
  • Connect communities with their museum and their heritage.
  • Make learning engaging, improve understanding and motivate learning
  • Contribute to social cohesion and inclusion.
  • Contribute to well being.
  • Contribute to the sustainability of museums.
  • Contribute to the tourist economy and prosperity.

Design of a Heritage Impact Toolkit for digital heritage engagement evaluation will facilitate relevant data collection for West Highland Museum, Timespan Museum, Tomintoul & Glenlivet Discovery Centre, North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme, Finlaggan Trust, Museum of Islay Life, and Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath.

Through surveys, interviews and observation we will collect evidence of impact. Identified profiles for evidence collection include end users (visitors), stakeholders (community), museum and visitor centres (heritage practitioners), and third party organisations (e.g., Creative Scotland, European Commission, ICOM), This will be combined with statistics including visitor numbers and feedback from visitors. Inquiry will cover:

  • Accessibility – whether the exhibition is easy to use and improves accessibility to heritage,
  • Learning – whether the exhibit is effective as a learning resource, helping to learn, reassess views on the topic and generating motivation to engage,
  • Social impact – whether the exhibit helps users engage in heritage and promotes community develop inclusion and cohesion,
  • Engagement – whether the exhibit is engaging and immersive.

SICSA DVF Seminar – Dr André G. Pereira

We had our first School seminar of the semester today. The speaker was André G. Pereira visiting Scotland on a SICSA DVF Fellowship. André is working on AI Planning problems, an area that is closely related to the work of our own Constraint Programming research group.

Title: Understanding Neuro-Symbolic Planning

Abstract: In this seminar, we present the area of neuro-symbolic planning, introducing fundamental concepts and applications. We focus on presenting recent research on the problem of learning heuristic functions with machine learning techniques. We discuss the distinctions and particularities between the “model-based” and “model-free” approaches, and the different methods to address the problem. Then, we focus on explaining the behavior of “model-free” approaches. We discuss the generation of the training set, and present sampling algorithms and techniques to improve the quality of the training set. We also discuss how the distribution of samples over the state space of a task, together with the quality of its estimators, are directly related to the quality of the learned heuristic function. Finally, we empirically detail which factors have the greatest impact on the quality of the learned heuristic function.

Biography: Dr. André G. Pereira is a professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. His research aims to develop and explain the behavior of intelligent systems for sequential decision-making problems. Dr. Pereira has authored several papers on top-tier venues such as IJCAI, AAAI, and ICAPS. These papers contribute towards explaining the behavior of heuristic search algorithms, how to use combinatorial optimization-based reasoning to solve planning tasks, and how to use machine learning techniques to produce heuristic functions. Dr. Pereira is a program committee member of IJCAI and AAAI. His doctoral dissertation was awarded second place in the national Doctoral Dissertation Contest on Computer Science (2017), and first place in the national Doctoral Dissertation Contest on Artificial Intelligence (2018). Dr. Pereira advised three awarded students on national events, including first place and finalist in the Scientific Initiation Work Contest (2018, 2022), and finalist in the Master Dissertation Contest on Artificial Intelligence (2020).

Virtual Open Worlds appear in The Herald

Alan Miller and The Virtual Open Worlds team appeared in The Herald earlier this month promoting their digital reconstruction of Fort William for the West Highland Museum

Using VR headsets, the team created a fully immersive virtual reality model of the old fort in Fort William in the days leading up to the Battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746.

 

 

 

 

 

Research hub considers response to life beyond Earth

The new SETI Post-Detection Hub, coordinated by Dr John Elliott, an honorary research fellow of the School of Computer Science has gathered widespread press interest, across UK, Europe, USA, Canada, South America and South East Asia.

The Hub hosted by the Centre of Exoplanet Science and the Centre for Global Law and Governance of the University of St Andrews, will act as a coordinating centre for an international effort bringing together diverse expertise across both the sciences and the humanities for setting out impact assessments, protocols, procedures, and treaties designed to enable a responsible response should we discover intelligent life forms beyond our planet.

More information about the hub can be found in the university press release

Clouded | Uncovering The Culture Of Cloud

Congratulations to Blesson Varghese who features in a newly released documentary in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and VMWare.

An original film that is uncovering the realities of cloud technology and its effects on both business and society. Many have grown confused with our relationship with a rapidly expanding cloud market, others are reflecting on their strategies. The question is, when did cloud become so ‘Clouded’.

Clouded confronts some of the uncomfortable truths that exist in today’s cloud culture. This is a journey of discovery that uncovers topics which undoubtedly require further thought by governments, enterprise businesses and technology executives.

The full documentary can be watched at https://www.consciouslyhybrid.com

Research Away Day October 2022

Thanks to everyone who attended the school Research away day. The day was very informative and lots of ideas were created.

It was lovely to meet our Ukrainian Visiting Academics Maryna Novozhylova and Olga Chub.

We would also like to thank our guests, Ricky Shek from careers, Kirsty Ross from RIS,  Adeel Shafi and Jayshree Johnstone from business development.