Computer Science Ball 2017

Postgraduate students, led by Paul Dobra, organised the first ever CS Ball in August. The celebration coincided with finishing summer dissertations and the annual poster and demo session. The school sponsored Smurfalicious Blue Ball proved very popular and sold out of tickets earlier in August. The theme was blue and the location was The old Manor Hotel, in Lundin Links. The evening comprised of champagne, dinner and a Ceilidh till midnight. Students are pictured enjoying the 3 course dinner and fully embracing the spirit of a Cèilidh. We look forward to seeing them at December Graduation.

Images courtesy of Paul Dobra, Ula Rustamova, Nick Tikhonov, and Xu Zhu.
– Main Organisers: Paul Dobra & Shyam Reyal
– Promotion (online): Yin Noe, Nouchali Reyal
– Promotion (offline): Gillian Baird, Fiona George, Midhat Un Nisa
– Material Design: Yin Noe
– Photography: Ula Rustamova and Nick Tikhonov
– Decorations: Fiona George, Midhat Un Nisa, Anke Shi, Masha Nedjalkova, Sihan Li
– Electronics / Multimedia / Drone: Xu Zhu
– Music for Disco: Blair Fyfe

https://www.facebook.com/csball.standrews/

Gala Malbasic: Finalist in Scottish Software Engineer of the Year

Congratulations to St Andrews student Gala Malbasic, who has been selected as one of the finalists in the Young Software Engineer of the Year Award 2017.

The Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards are given for the best undergraduate software projects completed by students studying computer science and software engineering in Scotland.

Gala graduated in Computer Science from St Andrews earlier this year, her Major Software Project – Leap Up: The New Keyboard Renaissance, incorporated novel uses of the Leap Motion sensor and was supervised by Professor Aaron Quigley.

Previous finalists and prize winners have included,
Simone Ivan Conte, Sam Elliott,Thomas Grimes, Alistair Scott, Craig Paul, Angus MacDonald, Ben Catherall and Graeme Bell. The number of finalists is further testament to the quality of talented students graduating from the School of Computer Science at St Andrews.

The winners of this year’s award will be announced on 5th October 2017!

Computer Science Orientation and Welcome 2017

After advising and induction events, staff and students are pictured enjoying a welcome reception and orientation activities, coordinated by Uta Hinrichs. The annual orientation gaming session proved as popular as ever and offered retro classic digital games and traditional board games. The gaming session was closely followed by a well attended welcome reception for the consumption of Twiglets and Irn Bru.

DLS: What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Computer History

Event details

  • When: 10th October 2017 09:30 - 16:00
  • Where: Byre Theatre
  • Series: Distinguished Lectures Series
  • Format: Distinguished lecture

What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Computer History

Prof Ursula Martin

Update: Lectures will be live streamed at this link.

Distinguished Lecture Series, Semester 1, 2017-18

Biography:

Professor Ursula Martin CBE FREng FRSE joined the University of Oxford as Professor of Computer Science in 2014, and is a member of the Mathematical Institute.  She holds an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship, and a Senior Research Fellowship at Wadham College. Her research, initially in algebra, logic and the use of computers to create mathematical proofs, now focuses on wider social and cultural approaches to understanding the success and impact of current and historical computer science research.

Prof Ursula Martin

Prof Ursula Martin

Before joining Oxford she worked at  Queen Mary University of London, where she was Vice-Principal for Science and Engineering (2005-2009), and Director of the impactQM project (2009-2012), an innovative knowledge transfer initiative. She serves on numerous international committees, including the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee and the UK Defence Science Advisory Council.  She worked  at the University of St Andrews from 1992 – 2002, as only its second female professor, and its first in over 50 years. She holds an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge, and a PhD in Mathematics from Warwick.

Timetable:

9.30 Introduction

9.35 Lecture 1:  The early history of computing: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of programming

10.35 Break with Refreshments Provided

11.15 Lecture 2: Case study, Alan Turing,  Grace Hopper, and the history of getting things right

12.15 Lunch (not provided)

2.30 Welcome by the Principal, Prof Sally Mapstone

2.35 Lecture 3: What do historians of computing do, and why is it  important for computer scientists today

3.30 Close

Lecture 1. The early history of computing: Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the history of programming

IN 1843 Ada Lovelace published a remarkable paper in which she explained  Charles Babbage’s designs for his Analytical Engine. Had it been built, it would have had in principle the same capabilities  as a modern general purpose computer. Lovelace’s paper is famous for its insights into more general questions, as well as for its detailed account of how the machine performed its calculations – illustrated with a large table which is often called, incorrectly, the “first programme”.   I’ll talk about the wider context; why people were interested in computing engines; and some of the other work that was going on at the time, for example Babbage’s remarkable hardware description language. I’ll  look at different explanations for why Babbage’s ideas did not take off, and give a quick overview of what did happen over the next 100 years, before  the invention of the first digital computers.

Lecture 2. Case study, Alan Turing,  Grace Hopper, and the history of getting things right

Getting software right was a theme of programming for the days of Babbage onwards. I’ll look at the work of pioneers Alan Turing and Grace Hopper, and talk about the long interaction of computer science with logic, which has led to better programming languages, new ways to prove programmes correct, and sophisticated mathematical theories of importance in their own right.  I’ll look at the history of the age-old debate about whether computer science needs mathematics to explain its main ideas, or whether practical skills, building things and making things simple for the user are more important.

Lecture 3: What do historians of computing do, and why is it  important for computer scientists today

When people think about computer science, they think about ideas and technologies that are transforming the future – smaller faster smarter connected devices, powered by, AI, and big data – and looking at the past can be seen as a bit of a waste of time. In this lecture I’ll look at what historians do and why it is important; how we get history wrong; and in particular often miss the contribution of of women.  I’ll illustrate my talk with  my own work on Ada Lovelace’s papers, to show how  detailed historical work is needed to debunk popular myths – it is often claimed that Lovelace’s talent was  “poetical science” rather than maths, but I’ve shown that she was a gifted perceptive and knowledgeable mathematician. I’ll explain how the historian’s techniques of getting it right can help us get to grip with  topical problems like “Fake news”, and give us new ways of thinking about the future.

Computer Science: June Graduation 2017

Congratulations to our Senior Honours Class of 2017, MSci Honours students and our PhD students Dr Anne-Marie Mann, Dr Ildiko Pete, Dr Yuchen Zhao and Dr Michael Mauderer, who graduated on Wednesday. Students were invited to a reception in the School prior to the ceremony, to celebrate their achievement with staff, friends and family. We echo the sentiments expressed by our Head of School, Professor Steve Linton, during his Graduation address.

“For what you have achieved here, we are so proud of you. For what you will achieve, we wait eagerly and will always be proud. And wherever you are, we hope you will always regard St Andrews as a place you can call home.”

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


Images courtesy of Annemarie Paton and Ryo Yanagida.

Best Final Year Student at Lovelace 2017

We are delighted to congratulate Iveta Dulova, who attended the 10th BCSWomen  Lovelace Colloquium, and walked away with the prize for “Best Final Year Student”. Iveta’s poster, titled “SensorCube: An end-to-end framework for conducting research via mobile sensing“, was based on her final year project supervised by Dr Juan Ye.

The event was held at Aberystwyth University on April 12, 2017. Also attending from St Andrews were Chloe Collins, competing in the second year category with the poster “Pedal to the metal – the role of technology in transportation” and Laura Brewis with her poster “What percentage of solitaire games are actually winnable?”.

It showed great commitment for these three students to undertake the lengthy trip at a busy time of semester. Like St Andrews, Aberystwyth, is a beautiful small seaside town with an excellent Computer Science department.  Iveta took a couple of photos showing off the beach and the campus.

Workshop on Considering Technology through a Philosophical Lens

Event details

  • When: 18th May 2017 10:00 - 13:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Format: Workshop

Technology fundamentally shapes our communication, relationships, and access to information. It also evolves through our interaction with it. Dialoguing across disciplines can facilitate an understanding of these complex and reciprocal relationships and fuel reflection and innovation.

This hands-on, participant-driven and experimental workshop will start a discussion of what can come from considering technology through a philosophical lens. Through discussions and hands-on design activities, it will provide an introduction to and reflection on questions at the intersection of computer science and philosophy, such as:

  • How have philosophy and technology shaped each other in the past?
  • How can philosophical ideas and methods guide research in Computer Science?
  • How can thinking through technology help Humanities researchers discover relevance and articulate impact in their research?

Engaging these questions can provide participants an entry-point into exploring these themes in the context of their own research.

This workshop is aimed at researchers from computer science who are curious about philosophy and how to leverage it to inform technically oriented research questions and designing for innovation. It is also aimed at researchers in the arts & humanities, social sciences, and philosophy who are curious about current research questions and approaches in computer science and how questions of technology can stimulate philosophical thought and research.

Attending the workshop is free but please register by emailing Nick Daly: nd40[at]st-andrews.ac.uk

Organisers: Nick Daly (School of Modern Languages) and Uta Hinrichs (School of Computer Science)

 

Junior Honours: Software Team Project 2017

Earlier today our Junior Honours students presented their Team Projects. The projects involve substantial team based software engineering and rely heavily on collaborative development. There are many aspects of software and professional development along with considerable inter-team and intra-team collaborations. This year the students were asked to develop a version of the Settlers of Catan with AI players. They were further asked to make their games interoperate so one teams AI or human player might play on another teams game and board.

The teams demonstrated lots of creativity with the use of software tools, approaches to AI, use of domain specific languages, remote services, games environments, graphics development, collaborative frameworks and many tools for software engineering project development. Thanks to all the students, supervisors and coordinators for their hard work this year.

We wish all our junior honours students success with their forthcoming exams and we look forward to seeing them again for their senior honours year in September.

Images and text courtesy of Professor Aaron Quigley

Senior Honours: Poster Presentation and Demo Session 2017

Our talented hard working SH students from CS4099: Major Software Project and CS4098: Minor Software Project presented their posters and final year software artifact to staff and students earlier this week.

As Illustrated in the above collage, the busy poster session is the perfect opportunity to discuss output from their year long project with markers, and provides time to share research ideas and reflect on the experience with their peer group. We wish them success with forthcoming exams and look forward to seeing them during June graduation celebrations.

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.
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