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School of Computing


School of Computing Research Colloquia - 2015        

Colloquia are 11.30-12.30pm Fridays during term time (40 mins talk + 20 mins questions).
Venue: School of Computing Staff Room (Level 9 EC Stoner)

Fri 30 Jan, David Duke, Computational Science and Engineering Research Theme
Title: High-Performance Computing with Haskell

Abstract: Codes for computational science have historically been dominated by machine-oriented imperative thinking. This position is now being challenged, both through the complexity of parallel hardware and the need to reduce development and access costs for high performance computing. One outcome has been development of specialised runtime systems and domain-specific languages for scientific applications. However a different approach to the challenge of extreme-scale computing on parallel hardware is to build on advances elsewhere in the programming system design space, specifically parallel functional programming. This talk will describe recent work that has exploited and extended Haskell for applications in computational topology, including an application to nuclear simulation data that led to new results in physics. The talk will cover:

- advances that have made high-performance computing in Haskell possible;
- our shared and distributed memory implementations of the Joint Contour Net algorithm;
- performance results to date; and
- our contributions to functional HPC.

I will conclude by setting out some of the many remaining challenges, both technical and in the day-to-day reality of working in computational science.

Fri 6 Feb, Padraig Gleeson, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, University College London
Title: The Open Source Brain Initiative, enabling collaborative model development in computational neuroscience

Abstract: Computational modelling is important for understanding how brain function and dysfunction emerge from lower level neurophysiological mechanisms. However, computational neuroscience has been hampered by poor accessibility, transparency, validation and reuse of models. The Open Source Brain (OSB) initiative ( has been created to address these issues. This aims to create a repository of neuronal and network models from multiple brain regions and species that will be in accessible, standardised formats and work across multiple simulators. OSB will create a collaborative space to facilitate model creation and sharing, where both computational and experimental researchers can contribute to their development.

A related initiative which has also been using this open development model successfully is OpenWorm, which aims to build a computer model of the worm C. elegans incorporating unprecedented levels of biological and physical detail. These initiatives freely share software and knowledge to the benefit of both, and enjoy active contribution from a growing community of developers and scientists which would be impossible in more traditional closed scientific projects.

This talk will introduce the aims of the OSB initiative, describe the current functionality of the website and the range of models already available, and present future plans for the project, including greater collaborations with other initiatives like OpenWorm.

Fri 13 Feb, Sara J Fernstad, Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies, Northumbria University
Title: To See What Isn’t There – Visual Analysis of Missing Data

Abstract: Missing data are records that are absent from a data set. They are data that were intended to be recorded, but for some reason were not. Missing data occur in almost any domain and is a common data analysis challenge that causes problems such as biased results and reduced statistical rigour. Although visualization has great potential to provide invaluable support for the investigation of missing data, missing data challenges are rarely addressed by the visualization society. This talk will cover various concepts and aspects in missing data analysis, suggesting patterns of relevance for gaining further understanding of ‘missingness’ in datasets and present visualization approaches that have the potential to support this understanding.

Fri 20 Feb, <to be confirmed>

Fri 27 Feb, Django Armstrong, Distributed Systems and Services Research Theme
Title: Energy Efficiency In Cloud Computing - The ASCETiC Approach

Abstract: Energy efficiency is at the heart of the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as part of a transition to a resource efficient economy. Current trends in industry show continuous growth in the adoption and market value of Cloud computing with many companies changing their business models and products to adapt to a service orientated outlook (e.g. Microsoft's planned Windows 10 give-away, Office 365). With this growth, predictions have been made on an unsustainable quadrupling in the energy consumption and carbon emissions of data centres used to operate Cloud services by 2020 with comparable emissions to the aeronautical industry.

The Adapting Service lifeCycle towards EfficienT Clouds (ASCETiC) FP7 EU project is focused on providing novel methods and tools to support software developers aiming to optimise energy efficiency and minimise the carbon footprint resulting from designing, developing, deploying, and running software in Clouds.

This talk will cover: 1) The ASCETiC energy efficient Cloud computing reference architecture in the context of energy awareness and self-adaptation; 2) Present a live software demonstration of the first prototype of the architecture on a Cloud testbed; 3) Discuss our initial scientific findings on the performance of the prototype, and 4) Discuss lessons learned on leading development of a large EU STReP project.

The talk will be concluded with ideas on the future direction of and challenges within the research area of green Cloud computing.

Fri 6 Mar, Vania Dimitrova, Artificial Intelligence Research Theme
Title: Dealing with Cultural Diversity - Challenges and Opportunities for User-adaptive Systems

Abstract: User-adaptive systems are intelligent interactive systems that can adapt themselves to the users by using some model of the user which is derived from analysing interaction data. Typically, a user-adaptive system has some algorithmic component to derive a mode of the user from the interaction data, and another algorithmic component to adapt the user interaction to the individual characteristics of the user. These systems enable personalisation, i.e. creating unique interaction experiences tailored to individuals' specific needs and requirements, which is seen by Gartner as one of the key directions for organisations to realise the transformational impact of big data. This talk will focus on an overlooked dimension of personalisation – awareness of the cultural diversity of users and application contexts. As shown in numerous cases, cultural ignorance in business can result in big financial losses while it can lead to further segregation and isolation in the public sphere. Yet, current user-adaptive systems are culturally ignorant, at most merely translating into different languages. I will point at challenges of bringing cultural diversity as a key feature in user-adaptive systems and will show how some of these challenges, specifically related to user modelling, are being addressed at Leeds by adapting semantic web technologies.

Fri 13 Mar, Kia Ng, Artificial Intelligence Research Theme

Fri 20 Mar, Netta Cohen, Applied Computing in Biology, Medicine & Health Research Theme