Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship for Nguyen Dang

Congratulations to Dr Nguyen Dang, who has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. The 3 year Fellowships are intended to assist those at an early stage of their academic careers to undertake a significant piece of publishable work. Nguyen will be researching Constraint-based automated generation of synthetic benchmark instances.

Abstract summary: “Combinatorial problems such as routing or timetabling are ubiquitous in society, industry, and academia. In the quest to develop algorithms to solve these problems effectively, we need benchmark instances. An instance is an example of the problems at hand for testing how well an algorithm performs. Having rich benchmarks of instances is essential for algorithm developers to gain understanding about the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches, and ensure successful applications in practice. This fellowship will provide a fully automated system for generating valid and useful synthetic benchmark instances based on a constraint modelling pipeline that supports several algorithmic techniques.”

Winnability of Klondike Solitaire research features in Major Nelson’s video podcast

Research carried out by Charlie Blake and Ian Gent to compute the approximate odds of winning any version of solitaire features in Major Nelson’s Video Podcast [Interview with Ian and Charlie starts 23:56] for XBox news today.

Today is National Solitaire Day and the 30th anniversary of the game. The celebrations include an invitation to participate in a record breaking attempt at the most games of Microsoft Solitaire completed in one day. You can download the collection free or play it through your browser.

The Klondike Solitaire research also featured in the New Scientist last year.
Link to the full paper on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.12314

Online article published in Technology Nov 17th 2019: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2223643-we-finally-know-the-odds-of-winning-a-game-of-solitaire/

Professor Simon Dobson elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)

Congratulations to Head of School Simon Dobson who has been elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for his exceptional achievements in science. This prestigious award recognises expertise which supports the “advancement of learning and knowledge in Scottish public life”. The RSE established in 1783, plays a leading role in “the development of a modern enlightenment that will enable Scotland to contribute significantly to addressing the global challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century”. The RSE announced its newly-elected 2020 Fellows on Tuesday, describing Fellows as “leading thinkers and experts from Scotland and around the world whose work has a significant impact on our nation”.

Simon works on adaptive systems, especially those driven by sensors. He has concentrated recently on how to make robust decisions from sensor data as the sensor system degrades, which is a critical foundation for making best use of the torrent of data coming from the “Internet of Things”. He is also interested in complex processes such as how epidemics spread in a population and how urban transport networks function, where mathematical models need to be complemented by repeatable and validated computational experiments that pose a major software challenge.

Winnability of Klondike Solitaire research featured in New Scientist

Research carried out by Charlie Blake and Ian Gent to compute the approximate odds of winning any version of solitaire featured in New Scientist last week (print edition November 23rd ). Ian emphasised the calibre of research carried out by our undergraduate students and his early interaction with card games.

“This research has been hugely satisfying to me because my mother taught me games like King Albert as a child and I loved to play them with her. Now I know for the first time the chance of winning that game is about 68.5%.

It is wonderful to see work which started as an undergraduate student project feature in the New Scientist. This obviously reflects Charlie’s fantastic programming that he did. But it also shows the research-level quality work that undergraduate students can do as part of their studies in St Andrews.”

Link to the full paper on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.12314

Online article published in Technology Nov 17th: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2223643-we-finally-know-the-odds-of-winning-a-game-of-solitaire/

Computer donation to United Kingdom Jarra Association (UKJA)

The School received the following letter of appreciation from UKJA for a recent donation of computers and IT equipment.

Dear Sir,
I am writing on behalf of The United Kingdom Jarra Association (UKJA) to thank the prestigious School of Computer Science of The University of St Andrews for their recent donation of Computers to our Association. We hereby thank Dr Stuart Nacroos, the entire Systems team and Sheriffo Ceesay (a native of Jarra and current Computer Science PhD Student at your reputable institution) for facilitating this donation. The team also devoted their time to assist in moving the items securely for collection last Saturday – we are very grateful.

The UKJA was formed by Gambians resident in the UK in August 2015 and attained full charitable status in May 2017 with number 1173058. Our aim is to support development initiatives of Jarra in rural Gambia – Jarra comprises Jarra West, Jarra Central and Jarra East where we hail from. We aim to do this through the promotion of education, health and Poverty alleviation.

In the area of education, our focus is on STEM related subjects. ​The association believes that every child deserves a better learning environment to assist them reach their maximum potential and fulfil their dreams irrespective of their background. The association, cognisant of the above challenges conceived the “Educate Jarra” programme. At the core of this intervention is Science, Technology, English and Mathematics with physics, Chemistry, Biology.

Two years ago, the charity, in partnership with Islamic Cooperation for Development (ICO) based in Jeddah Saudi Arabia established our first Science and Computer Laboratory in Soma also in Jarra. In 2019, we expanded our intervention to Bureng where the construction of a new science and computer laboratory is now complete. The donated equipment will directly be used to equip Bureng.

Your intervention arrived at a time when we are vigorously raising the required funds to furnish the facility. Use the link below for further information about our ongoing fundraising: https://www.gofundme.com/f/better-educational-facilities-for-kids-in-jarra?utm_source= whatsApp&utm_medium=chat&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet​. We will also donate some of the computers to the region’s Senior Secondary School and other secondary schools that have access to electricity. We acknowledge the importance of computers and technology in the modern world and our goal is to nurture and prepare the younger generation to be challengers of the future by producing Scientists, Doctors and engineers through the education programme.

In the area of health, the UKJA currently supports the Soma Referral Hospital’s maternity unit. In partnership with FAR – an oil company working in The Gambia – in 2018 we embarked on a project to improve conditions of service at the maternity unit of the hospital. Through this we have been able to expand capacity of the labour ward and provided equipment including those for the operating theatre. Some of the computers received will be donated to this hospital as a step to digitalise the hospital and help improve patient management system. The importance of electronic health information system in the era of technology cannot be overemphasised. Record keeping in The Gambia has always been approached in the traditional. These computers will change that trend in Soma.

With this brief, you will be convinced that your donation will be put to good through the UKJA. Therefore, as a charitable institution, we are always looking for possible collaboration in the aforementioned areas with the aim to help improve our communities. We look forward to continuously working with your reputable institution in the best interest of our community.

Please be assured of our highest consideration.

Sulayman A. Bah
Secretary General

United Kingdom Jarra Association (UKJA) is a registered Charity in England and Wales. Registered number 1173058

The Melville Trust for the Care and Cure of Cancer PhD award

The Melville Trust for the Care and Cure of Cancer have funded a PGR Studentship relative to the project entitled ‘Detecting high-risk smokers in Primary Care Electronic Health Records: An automatic classification, data extraction and predictive modelling approach’.

The supervisors are Prof. Frank Sullivan of the School of Medicine and Prof. Tom Kelsey of the School of Computer Science, with work commencing in September 2019. The award is for £83,875.

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:

Tom Kelsey appointed Associate Editor of Human Reproduction Update

Arne Sunde, the incoming Editor-in-Chief, has appointed Tom Kelsey as Associate Editor of Human Reproduction Update.

Human Reproduction Update is the leading journal in Reproductive Medicine, with an Impact Factor of 11.852. The journal publishes comprehensive and systematic review articles in human reproductive physiology and medicine, and is published on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). The Associate Editor system at Human Reproduction Update has been in place since the beginning of 2001 and it has a significant positive effect on the quality and dynamism of the journal.

In the ISI JCR Global Ranking for 2017, Human Reproduction Update is ranked first of 29 journals in Reproductive Biology, and first of 82 journals in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Tom Kelsey has published extensively in Human Reproduction Update and its sister journals Human Reproduction (impact factor 4.949) and Molecular Human Reproduction (impact factor 3.449). He is also Associate Editor for the Open Access journals Frontiers in Endocrinology and Frontiers in Physiology. He is a regular reviewer for these journals and also the British Medical Journal, BMJ Open, Health Education Journal, Nature Scientific Reports, PLOS One, Mathematical Medicine and Biology, Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine, and the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

Distinguished Speaker Program Tour (Indonesia): Professor Aaron Quigley

Professor Quigley will engage in a lecture tour to three cities in Indonesia in March 2019 as part of the Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The DSP brings together international thought leaders from academia, industry, and government.

Professor Quigley will speak at the 5th International HCI and UX Conference which will travel to Jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar. He will present talks on Discreet Computing and Global Human Computer Interaction along with meeting with local academic and industry leaders in Human Computer Interaction. Professor Quigley will be on sabbatical in the National University of Singapore next year.