Team NOMAD win IDEA Explosion 2017

Congratulations to PhD students Shyam Reyal and Simone Conte , from Computer Science and Senior Scientific Officer Tomas Lebl, from Chemistry who presented NOMAD (NMR Online Management and Datastore) at IDEA Explosion 2017 and emerged victorious. Shyam delivered a five-minute elevator pitch, whilst Simone and Tomas responded to questions. Judges acknowledged that NOMAD has huge potential with researchers, and were impressed that it has been used in St Andrews for the past 5 years, with other universities now lined-up to make use of its services, fully supporting the use of the prize money to set-up a company.

Shyam reflected on NOMAD’s success-

“When Tomas and I began development of NOMAD in 2012, it started as a simple lab-management system to run the NMR facility, and a mechanism for users to store and retrieve their data efficiently. We didn’t envisage that NOMAD would become what it is now, a full end-to-end data management solution for researchers with over 200 different functions, which we would like to describe as “Google Photos for Research Data”. We didn’t expect it would gain the interest of so many others outside of St Andrews, and could be taken forward as a company. I would like to thank Tomas, Simone, our wonderful dev-team, and our mentors (Professors Al Dearle, Simon Dobson, David O’Hagan, Russel Morris and Doug Philip) for their valuable guidance along the way. We have come far, but we have a long way to go and this is only a small step amongst countless other challenges we’ve faced and about to face in future”.

NOMAD is currently serving ~600 users at the School of Chemistry with storage, access, collaboration and publication of their research data, and aiding lab-managers to efficiently manage their research labs. NOMAD is currently limited to NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) services inside St Andrews, but is planned to expand into other services such as Powder-X-Ray-Diffraction, Mass Spectrometry, and to other universities outside of St Andrews with similar lab facilities. The current NOMAD team is led by Tomas, Shyam and Simone, and consists of a number of graduate and undergraduate developers and project students from the School of Computer Science.

IDEA Explosion is a competition open to all students and staff at the University of St Andrews, providing an opportunity to turn a business idea into a successful venture. Contestants submit their business idea in writing, from which 12 finalists are selected to present their idea as a five-minute “elevator pitch” in front of a panel of judges, consisting of business experts, venture capitalists, angel investors, and sponsors. The winners are awarded £1500 towards progressing their business idea and have the opportunity to meet people who can give professional business support in taking their idea from concept to creation.

Data and the User Experience in Retail

Event details

  • When: 6th March 2017 15:00 - 16:00
  • Where: Honey 110 - John Honey Teaching Lab
  • Format: Seminar

The Hut Group develop and manage a proprietary eCommerce platform that handled over half a billion pounds of revenue last year. UX within the company is responsible for optimising user flows through the website, and working with Design departments to deliver user delight. With over 30 distinct site brands internally, and several external clients, the team attempt to strike a balance between optimising sites for revenue and user delight. This talk is about the challenges of UX within a wider business organisation, and the role that Computer Science graduates can play in a multidisciplinary UX team.

Elliott joined The Hut Group in June, starting in the Research and Development department. He worked on developing a dashboard for use inside the business, and developed a series of prototypes to show users Social Media content on-site. He now heads the User Experience (UX) department. Prior to joining THG, Elliott worked at Skyscanner as a front-end developer whilst graduating from St Andrews in Computer Science with several modules in HCI.

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 (


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.

Type-Driven Development of Communicating Systems using Idris

Event details

  • When: 23rd February 2017 13:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Format: Colloquium, Seminar, Talk

Speaker: Jan de Muijnck-Hughes


Communicating protocols are a cornerstone of modern system design.
However, there is a disconnect between the different tooling used to design, implement and reason about these protocols and their implementations.
Session Types are a typing discipline that help resolve this difference by allowing protocol specifications to be used during type-checking to ensure that implementations adhere to a given specification.

Idris is a general purpose programming language that supports full-dependent types, providing programmers with the ability to reason more precisely about programs.
This talk introduces =Sessions=, our implementation of Session Types in Idris, and demonstrates =Sessions= ability to design and realise several common protocols.

=Sessions= improves upon existing Session Type implementations by introducing value dependencies between messages and fine-grained channel management during protocol design and implementation.
We also use Idris’ support for EDSL construction to allow for protocols to be designed and reasoned about in the same language as their implementation.
Thereby allowing for an intrinsic bond to be introduced between a protocol’s implementation and specification, and also with its verification.

Using =Sessions=, we can reduce the existing disconnect between the tooling used for protocol design, implementation, and verification.




EPSRC Grant Success: A Constraint Modelling Pipeline

Congratulations to colleagues Professor Ian Miguel, Dr Chris Jefferson, Dr Tom Kelsey, Professor Ian Gent and Dr Peter Nightingale, who have secured an impressive EPSRC grant A constraint Modelling Pipeline, with NHS and SME project partners. The three and a half year grant, officially announced yesterday, aims to advance the state of the art in solving complex combinatorial search problems ubiquitous in many settings, such as planning, scheduling or design. Specifically, the aim is to produce a powerful, general automated modelling and solving system unique in targeting a range of powerful solving formalisms from a single abstract problem specification. The research will impact across the public and private sectors, and academia.
Read more about the grant application through EPSRC reference:EP/P015638/1

Graduation November 2016

Congratulations to the Masters Class of 2016, and PhD students Dr Vinodh Sampath and Dr Oche Ejembi, who graduated last month. Each year, students are invited to a reception in Computer Science to celebrate their achievement and reflect on their time in the School, with staff and guests.

Our graduates have moved on to a wide variety of interesting and challenging employment and further study opportunities, and we wish them all well with their future careers.




Alexander Konovalov: Certified Software and Data Carpentry Instructor

Congratulations to Alexander Konovalov who has just completed the instructor training course and subsequent assignments and is now certified to teach Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry workshops.

Software Carpentry is a volunteer organisation whose goal is to make scientists more productive, and their work more reliable, by teaching them basic computing skills. Its sibling organisation is DataCarpentry, which focuses on data analysis skills rather than programming skills. Their volunteer instructors run hundreds of events for thousands of scientists. Alexander has been teaching at several workshops, and is very enthusiastic about organising more!


CodeFirst:Girls Final presentations Fall 2016

Congratulations to our St Andrews Computer Science Code First Girls, for completing the Fall 2016 course, and staging their final projects. Students are pictured presenting some of their diverse and ambitious projects to staff, CFG tutors and fellow students. Presentations were followed by some home baking.

Judges awarded overall winner to Marya Simeonova and Chirsty McFadyen for Student Association’s Environment Subcommittee. Runners-up were Hannah Done, Anna Guckian and Eilidh Robb for GradTrip and Alix Réveilhac, Bridget Holmes and Sherry Zhang for The Grind.

Well done to all. Read more about CFG in our previous post Computer Science supports CodeFirst:Girls


Children in Need 2016

Well done to Sophie and Caitlyn, who raised £215 pounds for Children In Need today. They are pictured setting up shop and selling their delicious homemade cakes and biscuits. Thanks to staff and students for helping them raise a fabulous total. Options included Pretzels, Rainbow Cupcakes (lactose free), Oreo Cupcakes, Brownies (gluten free), Chocolate cake (vegan) and Gingerbread Pudsey Bears.


Review their previous 2012, 2013 and 2015 cakes and fundraising through our past blog posts. A great effort all round, we look forward to seeing you again next year.