PhD viva success: Michael Pitcher

Congratulations to Michael Pitcher, who successfully defended his thesis today. He is pictured with Dr Ruth Bowness, Internal examiner Prof Tom Kelsey, external examiner Professor Marc Lipman from University College London and Supervisor Prof Simon Dobson. Michael’s thesis was co-supervised by Prof Stephen Gillespie from the School of Medicine.

Blindness seminar

Event details

  • When: 8th January 2020 14:00 - 15:30
  • Format: Seminar

The medical school is holding a Seminar on Wednesday 8th January @1400-1530
New tools and methods to prevent blindness.
Seminar room 1, Medical and Biological Sciences Building

  • Dr. Andrew Blaikie, St Andrews
    Arclight Project
  • Dr. Craig Robertson, CEO Epipole Ltd
    Hand held fundus cameras
  • Prof Congdon, Queen’s University Belfast
    Overview of Global Ophthalmology

Nguyen Dang (University of St Andrews): Hyper-Parameter Tuning for an evolutionary algorithm

Event details

  • When: 11th February 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

Abstract: In this talk, I will present a case study to illustrate how automated algorithm configuration can be used to gain insights into theoretical results on an evolutionary algorithm, namely the (1+(λ,λ)) Genetic Algorithm. This work is a collaboration with Carola Doerr.

The (1+(λ,λ)) Genetic Algorithm is an evolutionary algorithm that has interesting theoretical properties. It is the first algorithm where the benefit of crossover operator is rigorously proved. It is also the first example where self-adjusting parameter choice is proved to outperform any static parameter choice. However, it is not very well understood how the hyper-parameter settings influences the overall performance of the algorithm. Analyzing such multi-dimensional dependencies precisely is at the edge of what running time analysis can offer. In this work, we make a step forward on this question by presenting an in-depth study of the algorithm’s hyper-parameters using techniques in automated algorithm configuration.

Speaker bio: Dr Nguyen Dang is a post-doc in the Constraint Programming group at the University of St Andrews. Her main research focus is on automated algorithm configuration, algorithm selection and their applications in various contexts. These techniques make use of statistical methods and machine learning for fine-tuning of algorithm parameters, assessing parameters’ importance and building algorithm portfolios. Another line of her research is about solving combinatorial optimisation problems using metaheuristic algorithms.

Matt Blackledge (Institute of Cancer Research): Clinical Computational Imaging: Perspectives in Oncology

Event details

  • When: 4th February 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

Abstract: There is an ever-increasing burden on imaging departments to deliver high-throughput assessment of medical images.  MRI in particular provides the advantage of full-body coverage and and a variety of quantitative imaging techniques, such as diffusion-weighted MRI, that can offer potent biomarkers for disease response and prognosis; with the advent of accelerated imaging techniques, many quantitative images can now be acquired in a single patient scan.  Increases in computational power and the advent of methodologies such as deep-learning may help to deliver on the promise of truly personalised, image-guided therapies; by helping clinicians to better understand the complexities within multi-parametric MRI it may be possible to derive a non-invasive “digital biopsy” that can be monitored during treatment.  In this presentation, we will review recent developments within the Computational Imaging group at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital, demonstrating how novel algorithms and deep learning can be used to assist in the response assessment of advanced prostate cancer and soft-tissue sarcoma.

Speaker Bio: Dr Matt Blackledge is the team-leader of computational imaging at the ICR, where he has been developing computational techniques in MRI for over a decade.  He is funded by both CRUK and Sarcoma UK to innovate novel approaches to image analysis from MRI and X-ray CT to improve cancer patient outcomes in a variety of disease types.  He is particularly interested in how AI can be used to (i) further accelerate MR-image acquisition, (ii) understand cancer heterogeneity in images, and (iii) probe the link between quantitative imaging biomarkers and their underlying biology.

 

School seminar: Interactions between Group Theory, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computation – talk by Delaram Kahrobaei (York)

Event details

  • When: 28th January 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Series: School Seminar Series
  • Format: Seminar

Abstract:

In this talk, I explore how group theory playing a crucial role in cyber security and quantum computation. At the same time, how computer science for example machine learning algorithms and computational complexity could help group theorists to tackle their open problems, as such this could help with cryptanalysis of the proposed primitives.

Symmetry is present in all forms in the natural and biological structures as well as man-made environments. Computational symmetry applies group-theory to create algorithms that model and analyze symmetry in real data set. The use of symmetry groups in optimizing the formulation of signal processing and machine learning algorithms can greatly enhance the impact of these algorithms in many fields of science and engineering where highly complex symmetries exist.

At the same time, Machine Learning techniques could help with solving long standing group theoretic problems. For example, in the paper [J. Gryak (University of Michigan, Data Science Institute), R. Haralick (The City University of New York, the prize recipient of International Association for Pattern Recognition), D. Kahrobaei, Solving the Conjugacy Decision Problem via Machine Learning, Experimental Mathematics, Taylor & Francis (2019)] the authors use machine learning techniques to solve the conjugacy decision problem in a variety of groups. Beyond their utilitarian worth, the developed methods provide the computational group theorist a new digital “sketchpad” with which one can explore the structure of groups and other algebraic objects, and perhaps yielding heretofore unknown mathematical relationships.

Graph theoretic problems have been of interest of theoretical computer scientists for many years, especially the computational complexity problems for such algorithmic problems. Such studies have been fruitful for one of the millennium problems (P vs NP) of the Clay Math Institute. Since graph groups are uniquely defined by a finite simplicial graph and vice versa, it is clear that there is a natural connection between algorithmic graph theoretic problems and group theoretic problems for graph groups. Since the graph theoretic problems have been of central importance in complexity theory, it is natural to consider some of these graph theoretic problems via their equivalent formulation as group theoretic problems about graph groups. The theme of the paper [Algorithmic problems in right-angled Artin groups: Complexity and applications, R. Flores, D. Kahrobaei, T. Koberda, J. of Algebra, Elsevier 2019.] is to convert graph theoretic problems for finite graphs into group theoretic ones for graph groups (a.k.a. right-angled Artin) groups, and to investigate the graph theory algebraically. In doing so, new approaches to resolving problems in complexity theory become apparent. The authors are primarily motivated by the fact that some of these group theoretic problems can be used for cryptographic purposes, such as authentication schemes, secret sharing schemes, and key exchange problems.

In the past couple of decades many groups have been proposed for cryptography, for instance: polycyclic groups for public-key exchanges, digital signatures, secret sharing schemes (Eick, Kahrobaei), hyperbolic groups for private key encryption (Chatterji-Kahrobaei), p-groups for multilinear maps (Kahrobaei, Tortora, Tota) among others. [J. Gryak, D. Kahrobaei, The Status of the Polycyclic Group-Based Cryptography: A Survey and Open Problems, Groups Complexity Cryptology, De Gruyter (2016).]

Most of the current cryptosystems are based on number theoretic problems such discrete logarithm problem (DLP) for example Diffie-Hellman key-exchange. Recently there has been some natural connections between algorithmic number theoretic and algorithmic group theoretic problems. For example, it has been shown that for a different subfamily of metabelian groups the conjugacy search problem reduces to the DLP. [J. Gryak, D. Kahrobaei, C. Martinez-Perez, On the conjugacy problem in certain metabelian groups, Glasgow Math. J., Cambridge Univ. Press (2019).]

In August 2015 the National Security Agency (NSA) announced plans to upgrade security standards; the goal is to replace all deployed cryptographic protocols with quantum secure protocols. This transition requires a new security standard to be accepted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

One goal of cryptography, as it relates to complexity theory, is to analyze the complexity assumptions used as the basis for various cryptographic protocols and schemes. A central question is determining how to generate intractible instances of these problems upon which to implement an actual cryptographic scheme. The candidates for these instances must be platforms in which the hardness assumption is still reasonable. Determining if the group-based cryptographic schemes are quantum-safe begins with determining the groups in which these hardness assumptions are invalid in the quantum setting.

In what follows we address the quantum complexity of the Hidden Subgroup Problem (HSP) to determine the groups in which the hardness assumption still stands. The Hidden Subgroup Problem (HSP) asks the following: given a description of a group G and a function f from G to X for some finite set X is guaranteed to be strictly H-periodic, i.e. constant and distinct on left (resp. right) cosets of a subgroup H < G, find a generating set for H.

Group-based cryptography could be shown to be post-quantum if the underlying security problem is NP-complete or unsolvable; firstly, we need to analyze the problem’s equivalence to HSP, then analyze the applicability of Grover’s search problem. [K. Horan, D. Kahrobaei, Hidden Subgroup Problem and Post-quantum Group-based Cryptography, Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science 10931, 2018].

Speaker Bio:

I am currently the Chair of Cyber Security at the University of York, a position I have held since November 2018. While at York, I founded and am the director of the York Interdisciplinary Center for Cyber Security. Before coming to York, I was Full Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City. I was at CUNY for 12 years, among other duties, I supervised 7 PhD computer science and mathematics students. In addition to my position at York, I am also an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the Center for Cyber Security at New York University (NYU). I have been an adjunct at NYU since 2016. I was a lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews before New York.

I am an associate editor of the of the Advances of Mathematics of Communication, published by the American Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the chief editor of the International Journal of Computer Mathematics: Computer Systems Theory, Taylor & Francis, and an associate editor of SIAM Journal on Applied Algebra and Geometry, The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. I also have entrepreneurial experience as President and Co-founder of Infoshield, Inc., a computer security company.

My main research area is Post-Quantum Algebraic Cryptography, Information Security, Data Science, Applied Algebra. My research has been supported by grants from the US military: US Office of Naval Research, Canadian New Frontiers in Research Fund Exploration, American Association of Advancement in Sciences, National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, Maastricht-York Investment Fund, Research Foundation of CUNY, London Mathematical Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, Swiss National Foundation, Institut Henri Poincare, and the Association for Women in Mathematics. I have 70 publications in prestigious journals and conference proceedings and several US patents. I have given about 240 invited talks in conferences and seminars around the world.

Need new software or an interface? Our students can help you design it for free! First deadline Friday 20th December

We are looking for five projects from within the University that have to do with creating new software and/or hardware. Suitable projects can come from individual researchers, practitioners/companies, Schools, or any Departmental Unit that is thinking about building some software or hardware system that will be facing humans (this includes the public, but also experts of any kind or any type of populations, such as children).

The MSc students of our module CS5042 – User Centered Interaction Design – will be performing a contextual analysis of the environment, extracting user interface requirements and providing up to a medium level fidelity design prototype, with the option to further taking this on to working prototype stage during their MSc project during the summer.

In the past, our students have successfully completed designs for the following types of systems:

  • Interactive exhibitions for museums and Edinburgh City of Culture
  • A health smartphone application interface for CIGNA, a health insurance provider
  • An integrated public display messaging system for the library
  • An interactive entrance welcoming system for the entrance of the School of Computer Science
  • An interactive laterality testing tool for the School of Medicine
  • An interface design for a system which measures peoples vital signals at a distance using cameras for Beyond Medics Limited
  • Novel web-based and mobile applications to explore literary collections

If you think your project could use this kind of help, please send to us by e-mail (cs5042.lec@cs.st-andrews.ac.uk):

  • Your name, e-mail address, and phone number
    A sentence or two about what kind of project you have in mind

We will then get in contact with you to briefly explore the options. No commitment necessary at this point. Everything is, of course, free, and this could be a great opportunity for you to explore a tentative system, even if you are not sure that you will need it.

Thank you very much for considering this.

Please feel free to forward this far and wide to other colleagues who may find this useful.

Many thanks,

Uta Hinrichs and Kenneth Boyd

cs5042.lec@cs.st-andrews.ac.uk

IBANS drop-in session

Event details

  • When: 11th December 2019 15:00

IBANS (Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences) will be running the first drop-in session of on December 11th at 3pm in the Seminar Room in the Psychology & Neuroscience building (first floor). Niki Khan (School of Psychology and Neuroscience) writes:

The drop-in sessions are designed to be periodic social events with catering, where people can meet each other, get help with their experiments, discuss prospective collaborations, knowledge exchange etc. We are envisaging questions on study design, programming (Python, R, other), version control, visualisations, and other topics. At the first of such meetings (on Dec 11th), we will discuss with those who will come what we would like to do next. These sessions may be especially useful for those who have attended  Software Carpentry training, and now would like to further practice and master their computational skills.

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