Graduation Reception: December 2018

The School will celebrate more student successes and accomplishments next month, when our MSc and PhD students graduate. We look forward to toasting their success at our graduation reception in the School of Computer Science, on Thursday 6th December, between 1.30 and 3.30. Over the years graduation has involved cakes, fizz, laughter, changeable weather and lots of reminiscing as pictured below. For family and friends who can’t make it to the graduation, the University broadcasts each graduation ceremony live.

Summer and Winter Graduations 2010 – 2014

Celebrations, Kilts and Graduation 2010- 2014

School Seminar: Jason Alexander (Lancaster University) – What would you do if you could touch your data?

Event details

  • When: 29th November 2018 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33a
  • Format: Seminar

Title:  What would you do if you could touch your data?

Abstract: Data Physicalizations are physical artefacts whose geometry or material properties encode data. They bring digital datasets previously locked behind 2D computer screens out into the physical world, enabling exploration, manipulation, and understanding using our rich tactile senses. My work explores the design and construction of dynamic data physicalizations, where users can interact with physical datasets that dynamically update. I will describe our data physicalization vision and show our progress on designing, building, and evaluating physicalizations and discuss the many exciting challenges faced by this emerging field.

Speaker biography:  Jason is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University. He has a BSc(Hons) and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol. His research is broadly in Human-Computer Interaction, with a particular interest in developing novel interactive systems to bridge the physical-digital divide. His recent work focuses on the development of shape-changing interfaces—surfaces that can dynamically change their geometry based on digital content—and their application to data physicalization. He also has interests in digital fabrication and novel haptic interaction techniques.

SRG Seminar: “Large-Scale Hierarchical k-means for Heterogeneous Many-Core Supercomputers” by Teng Yu

Event details

  • When: 1st November 2018 13:00 - 14:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: Systems Seminars Series
  • Format: Seminar, Talk
We present a novel design and implementation of k-means clustering algorithm targeting supercomputers with heterogeneous many-core processors. This work introduces a multi-level parallel partition approach that not only partitions by dataflow and centroid, but also by dimension. Our multi-level ($nkd$) approach unlocks the potential of the hierarchical parallelism in the SW26010 heterogeneous many-core processor and the system architecture of the supercomputer.
Our design is able to process large-scale clustering problems with up to 196,608 dimensions and over 160,000 targeting centroids, while maintaining high performance and high scalability, significantly improving the capability of k-means over previous approaches. The evaluation shows our implementation achieves performance of less than 18 seconds per iteration for a large-scale clustering case with 196,608 data dimensions and 2,000 centroids by applying 4,096 nodes (1,064,496 cores) in parallel, making k-means a more feasible solution for complex scenarios.
This work is to be presented in the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC18).

SRG Seminar: “Using Metric Space Indexing for Complete and Efficient Record Linkage” by Özgür Akgün

Event details

  • When: 18th October 2018 13:00 - 14:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: Systems Seminars Series
  • Format: Seminar
Record linkage is the process of identifying records that refer to the same real-world entities, in situations where entity identifiers are unavailable. Records are linked on the basis of similarity between common attributes, with every pair being classified as a link or non-link depending on their degree of similarity. Record linkage is usually performed in a three-step process: first groups of similar candidate records are identified using indexing, pairs within the same group are then compared in more detail, and finally classified. Even state-of-the-art indexing techniques, such as Locality Sensitive Hashing, have potential drawbacks. They may fail to group together some true matching records with high similarity. Conversely, they may group records with low similarity, leading to high computational overhead. We propose using metric space indexing to perform complete record linkage, which results in a parameter-free record linkage process combining indexing, comparison and classification into a single step delivering complete and efficient record linkage. Our experimental evaluation on real-world datasets from several domains shows that linkage using metric space indexing can yield better quality than current indexing techniques, with similar execution cost, without the need for domain knowledge or trial and error to configure the process.

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.

St Andrews Research Open-day in Computer Science

Event details

  • When: 26th October 2018 10:00 - 16:00
  • Where: School of Computer Science
  • Format: Conference, Symposium, Visiting Day

Register for St Andrews ROCS HERE for free.

St Andrews ROCS is an event for those of you who engage (or are planning to engage) with research in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews.

The main audiences are prospective postgraduate students, prospective or current industrial collaborators, and colleagues from other disciplines or Schools in Scotland and beyond.

The event will take place Friday October 26th 2018, between 10:00 AM and 4 PM.

There will be talks from all research groups, posters, demonstrations, guided tours, and much more.

You can learn about how to become a St Andrews PhD student or an active industrial collaborator.


You can download the programme of activities.

If you have any questions, e-mail

Register for St Andrews ROCS HERE for free.

DLS: Scalable Intelligent Systems by 2025 (Carl Hewitt)

Event details

  • When: 13th November 2018 09:30 - 15:30
  • Series: Distinguished Lectures Series
  • Format: Distinguished lecture

Venue: The Old Course Hotel (Hall of Champions)


9:30 Lecture 1
10:30 Break with Coffee
11:15 Lecture 2
12:15 Break for Lunch (not provided)
14:15 Lecture 3
15:15 Discussion

Lecture 1: Introduction to Scalable Intelligent Systems

Lecture 2: Foundations for Scalable Intelligent Systems

Lecture 3: Implications of Scalable Intelligent Systems

Speaker Bio:

Professor Carl Hewitt is the creator (together with his students and other colleagues) of the Actor Model of computation, which influenced the development of the Scheme programming language and the π calculus, and inspired several other systems and programming languages. The Actor Model is in widespread industrial use including eBay, Microsoft, and Twitter. For his doctoral thesis, he designed Planner, the first programming language based on pattern-invoked procedural plans.

Professor Hewitt’s recent research centers on the area of Inconsistency Robustness, i.e., system performance in the face of continual, pervasive inconsistencies (a shift from the previously dominant paradigms of inconsistency denial and inconsistency elimination, i.e., to sweep inconsistencies under the rug). ActorScript and the Actor Model on which it is based can play an important role in the implementation of more inconsistency-robust information systems. Hewitt is an advocate in the emerging campaign against mandatory installation of backdoors in the Internet of Things.

Hewitt is Board Chair of iRobust™, an international scientific society for the promotion of the field of Inconsistency Robustness. He is also Board Chair of Standard IoT™, an international standards organization for the Internet of Things, which is using the Actor Model to unify and generalize emerging standards for IoT. He has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University and Keio University and is Emeritus in the EECS department at MIT.


A project to build the technology stack outlined in these lectures can bring Scalable Intelligent Systems to fruition by 2025. Scalable Intelligent Systems have the following characteristics:

  • Interactively acquire information from video, Web pages, hologlasses, online data bases, sensors, articles, human speech and gestures, etc.
  • Real-time integration of massive pervasively inconsistent information
  • Scalability in all important dimensions meaning that there are no hard barriers to continual improvement in the above areas
  • Close human collaboration with hologlasses for secure mobile interaction. Computers alone cannot implement the above capabilities
  • No closed-form algorithmic solution is possible to implement the above capabilities

Technology stack for Scalable Intelligent Systems is outlined below:

  • Experiences Hologlasses: Collaboration, Gestures, Animations, Video
  • Matrix Discourse, Rhetoric, and Narration
  • Citadels No single point of failure
  • Massive Inconsistency Robust Ontology Propositions, Goals, Plans, Descriptions, Statistics, Narratives
  • Actor Services Hardware and Software
  • Actor Many Cores Non-sequential, Every-word-tagged, Faraday cage Crypto, Stacked Carbon Nanotube

For example, pain management could greatly benefit from Scalable Intelligent Systems. Complexities of dealing with pain have led to the current opioid crisis. According to Eric Rodgers, PhD., director of the VA’s Office of Evidence Based Practice:

“The use of opioids has changed tremendously since the 1990s, when we first started formulating a plan for guidelines. The concept then was that opioid therapy was an underused strategy for helping our patients and we were trying to get our providers to use this type of therapy more. But as time went on, we became more aware of the harms of opioid therapy and the development of pill mills. The problems got worse.

It’s now become routine for providers to check the state databases to see if there’s multi-sourcing — getting prescriptions from other providers. Providers are also now supposed to use urine drug screenings and, if there are unusual results, to do a confirmation. [For every death from an opioid overdose] there are 10 people who have a problem with opioid use disorder or addiction. And for every addicted person, we have another 10 who are misusing their medication.”

Pain management requires much more than just prescribing opioids, which are often critical for short-term and less often longer-term use. [Coker 2015; Friedberg 2012; Holt 2017; Marchant 2017; McKinney 2015; Spiegel 2018; Tedesco, et. al. 2017; White 2017] Organizational aspects play an important role in pain management. [Fagerhaugh and Strauss 1977]

Google@Computer Science 2018

The School hosted another successful Google event today. Students heard first hand from Exie Huntington University Programs Specialist, three of our talented alumni (James Smith, Peter Josling and Blair Fyffe) and had an opportunity to chat with current students (Silvia Nepšinská, Diyana Petrova, Daria Savanovich and Shyam Reyal) who have completed internships with Goggle. The well-received and very well attended session heard about their academic background, working at Google and technical roles. A technical interview workshop will take place later this evening.

SRG Seminar: “Efficient Cross-architecture Hardware Virtualisation” by Tom Spink

Event details

  • When: 11th October 2018 13:00 - 14:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: Systems Seminars Series
  • Format: Seminar, Talk

Virtualisation is a powerful tool used for the isolation, partitioning, and sharing of physical computing resources. Employed heavily in data centres, becoming increasingly popular in industrial settings, and used by home-users for running alternative operating systems, hardware virtualisation has seen a lot of attention from hardware and software developers over the last ten?fifteen years.

From the hardware side, this takes the form of so-called hardware assisted virtualisation, and appears in technologies such as Intel-VT, AMD-V and ARM Virtualization Extensions. However, most forms of hardware virtualisation are typically same-architecture virtualisation, where virtual versions of the host physical machine are created, providing very fast isolated instances of the physical machine, in which entire operating systems can be booted. But, there is a distinct lack of hardware support for cross-architecture virtualisation, where the guest machine architecture is different to the host.

I will talk about my research in this area, and describe the cross-architecture virtualisation hypervisor Captive that can boot unmodified guest operating systems, compiled for one architecture in the virtual machine of another.

I will talk about the challenges of full system simulation (such as memory, instruction, and device emulation), our approaches to this, and how we can efficiently map guest behaviour to host behaviour.

Finally, I will discuss our plans for open-sourcing the hypervisor, the work we are currently doing and what future work we have planned.