Our EU proposal writing and submission with support from SICSA PEER funding

by Juan Ye
29 January 2018

Have you experienced the challenge when you are socialising with people from a wide, diverse background? You may have different ethnic, educational, cultural background, and understanding each other may take a lot of effort. Our EU FET project, called DIVERSITY, is to deliver technological tools that humans can use to overcome the pervasive challenge of understanding people who are different from ourselves – whether by virtue of gender or race, sexuality or neurodiversity. The ambition is to pave the way for ground-breaking technologies that will reshape the ways people interact with each other and make sense together. We aim to instigate this new discipline of Diversity Computing, bringing together psychology and philosophy, design and human-computer interaction, with multiple branches of computer sciences to investigate the very nature of social interaction, using unconventional means and radical theoretical concepts. Through a series of ambitious, interdisciplinary work packages, we will lay the foundations of this new field, ultimately addressing big questions for our individualistic, globalised and multi-cultural society.

Developing this proposal is very pleasant, stimulating, and rewarding experience. Most of the consortium members are young, early-career researchers who share a lot of common research interest. I was very surprised by that even though all of us are from quite diverse disciplines. We started working on the proposal very early, around March 2017. We have several Skype calls and email communications to exchange thoughts, consolidate ideas, and share writings. It is the trip to Vienna in August that brought most of us together and finalized the proposal. During the trip, we had a lot of discussion and writing exercise. The proposal was finally submitted on September 2017.

SICSA PEER funding was very supportive to the proposal writing and the trip. Compared to many other funding applications, PEER is probably the most lightweight, easiest, and quickest. You are only required to complete a short form with one’s basic details along with the call’s information, the idea of your proposal, and purpose for the trip. The SICSA Directors made the decision quickly and the processed the claim was fast and very efficiently.

I really appreciate the SICSA PEER funding award and would encourage anyone who is planning or has already started a EU proposal to consider PEER funding.

Erica

PECE visit to USC/ISI – Los Angeles, US

by Dr Rosa Filgueira
22 January 2018

Rosa 1

My exchange involved visiting Ewa Deelman and Yolanda Gil, both located in the same University (USC) and Institute (Information Science Institute – ISI), from 30th September to 10th December 2017. This visit gave me the great opportunity to work with two World-leading authority on the research and development of advanced information processing technologies and intelligent systems to support extracting knowledge from data and scientific discovery.

Before my arrival, I performed several teleconferences with both, Ewa and Yolanda, so we narrowed the aim and the scope of the visit beforehand. I think that going there with already two pre-defined research-lines in mind helped me a lot to have a successful exchange.

For more than 15 years, Ewa has been conducting and leading the research in scientific workflows. After a couple of meetings, we decided to work together in a new scalable and tolerant monitoring data-streaming framework, which allows us to collect, pre-process, store and visualize data in real-time. This framework is aligned with the Panorama project (https://panorama360.github.io/), an approach to performance modelling and diagnosis of extreme-scale workflows, where Ewa is the Principal Investigator.

Currently, this framework is being evaluated at the British Geological Survey (BGS), as a possible architecture for monitoring real-time sensor data and creating an alert system for interpreting sensors at the field (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/ukgeoenergyobs/).

Yolanda’s research focuses on intelligent interfaces for knowledge capture, which involves topics such as semantic annotation tools or community-wide development of knowledge bases. Yolanda has recently started a new project called MINT: Model Integration through Knowledge-Rich Data and Process Composition (http://mint-project.info/), which I was invited to participate as an external collaborator. Together we developed a new intelligent catalog for hydrological knowledge capture. The new catalog acts as a semantic data hub for choosing which countries to work with in this project (e.g. countries for which we have more datasets available). The next steps will be to link the catalog and mount it in public repository to make queries against it.

During my visit, I also had the opportunity to meet other researchers and groups, through several face-to-face meetings and by giving a seminar at the end of the exchange https://www.isi.edu/events/calendar/11376. Presentation available at https://github.com/rosafilgueira/datastreaminghub/blob/master/Presentation_ISI_17_RF.pdf

These collaborations haven’t finished after my visit, since I am still in touch with both hosts, and we have several ideas for continuing collaborating together (e.g. a draft of a paper for eScience conference or future bids and grants).

The research conducted during this visit at USC/ISI is not only very valuable for me, in terms of my career, as well for the institution where I work as a data scientist. At BGS, I participate in several national and international funded projects (such as EPOS, UKGEOS or Envriplus), where new data-streaming architectures as well intelligent catalogs are needed to improve the interoperability and accessibility of models and data. Therefore, the work conducted at USC/ISI and the new skills learnt would have a positive impact in the projects that I am currently working on.

Rosa 2

Deelman and her team at ISI. (L-R) Back row: Tu Mai Anh Do, Mats Rynge, Karan Vahi, George Papadimitriou. Front row: Rosa Filgueira, Ewa Deelman, Rajiv Mayani

I really encourage early career researchers to take advantage of the SICSA PECE grant. It will have a high impact in your future steps as a researcher and it will allow you to increase your network of contacts, and skills while you are working full-time (for a period of time) in an area of your interest.

One year of the SICSA Network and Systems (NET-SYS) Research Theme

by Dimitrios Pezaros
15 January 2018

In September 2016, I took over as leader of the SICSA Networking and Systems (NET-SYS) theme from Marwan Fayed who had done an excellent job leading SICSA’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) activities over the past few years. Not only there was a succession in leadership, there was also the launch of SICSA’s updated research themes to broaden representation of our research communities.

In the case of Networking and Systems, the theme was launched to succeed SICSA’s NGI as an umbrella theme which would capture all research activity under the broadened constituent areas, and to which NGI would be one specialised strand.

The first thing we did was to set up the NET-SYS mailing list and invite academic colleagues with relevant backgrounds and interests from academia and industry to join. Also, we have invited colleagues to take initiative and form specialist sub-groups to reflect the diverse areas under the merit of NET-SYS, and seek SICSA funding for the organisation of research-focused events in, among others, computer architecture, hardware systems, compiler and language support for parallelisation, networked systems, etc.

NGI continued as a focused strand under NET-SYS, and have had two SCONE (SCOttish Networking Event) meetings, one in January (Glasgow) and one in April (St Andrews), featuring student talks, mentorship activities, research integrity activities, community discussion, and an invited talk from Mirco Musolesi (UCL) on data-driven behaviour interventions, and how smart technologies can contribute to eHealth.

marionet_logoFinally, SICSA NET-SYS together with the EPSRC MaRIONet network co-funded the Reliable, Secure and Scalable Software Systems (RS4) Workshop hosted at Glasgow on 1st September 2017, as part of the activities celebrating 60 years of Computing at Glasgow. The event was very vibrant and well-attended, discussing topics on building secure and resilient systems, and featured talks from academia and industry, including speakers from ARM, EPCC, Codeplay, Maidsafe, and Twitter.

We are now looking forward to another even more vibrant and productive year, with wider engagement from colleagues working in the networking and systems areas across Scotland. There is a budget to support research and community-building events across the theme as well as for conference organisation, and we are very much looking forward to receiving your proposals.

Theory, Modelling and Computation Research Theme update

by Ekaterina Komendantskaya
24 November 2017

SICSA Theory, Modelling and Computation theme had a busy time in the academic year 2016-17. We funded six events on Theorem Proving, Programming Language Semantics, Categories, Logic and Physics, Algebra and Coalgebra, Combinatorics. The events took place at St Andrews, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities. The biggest of these events, ALCOPVIII (https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/clemens.kupke/ALCOP2017/), was in fact an international annual workshop, and featured international speakers from France, Netherlands, Poland and USA.

ALCOP image
We are looking forward to another busy and successful year!

 

SICSA HCI Research Theme update

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey 
2 November 2017

sicsa_hci-meeting

The SICSA HCI theme is one of the longest running themes in SICSA. Within Scotland, we have a range of world-leading expertise that address the difficult research problems in human-computer interaction. As such the SICSA HCI Theme encompasses over 36 individual research groups at 12 Scottish universities. We also maintain a low-traffic and high-relevance mailing list of over 300 academics and practitioners and we welcome proposals to fund local events in Scotland. To give you an idea of the sorts of things we do below are come details on several events we have been involved in over the past 12 months.

  • Each year we hold the SICSA All Hands meeting, the most recent event took place in November 2016 in St Andrews, and that was sold out (about 60 people attended). 2 internationally renowned HCI researchers (Professor Alan Dix and Professor Albrecht Schmidt) gave keynote talks. During the event we also had a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the community and had short presentations from the majority of HCI groups in Scotland. We have also established a working collaboration with the new ACM SIGCHI UK chapter. They also presented information about the new chapter and potential challenges at the all hands meeting.
  • We sponsored student places at the The Biological Visualisation Community’s 3rd Annual Meeting at Edinburgh Napier University in April 2017. This meeting included 3 keynotes, 7 talks on biological data visualisation as well as lightning talks, posters and demos.
  • We sponsored 2 student places at the Tiree Techwave, a creative workshop that tries to bring together creative people from disparate background to solve real world problems
  • Each year we hold a pre-CHI to present the papers from Scotland accepted to ACM CHI, the preeminent venue for HCI research. In 2017 the event was at the University of Dundee. 15 research papers, which represent a subset of accepted papers, were presented on the day
  • Along with multiple research groups we sponsored a SICSA HCI promotional event at CHI 2017 in Denver, Colorado. In 2019 CHI will be held in Glasgow, this is the first time the event will be in the UK. The promotional event intended to promote HCI research in Scotland and also to encourage leading HCI researchers to visit Scotland before and after CHI
  • Each year we also hold a SICSA HCI Doctoral Consortium, this is timed to coincide with the SICSA PhD Conference to reduce travel requirements for students. This was also hosted by the University of Dundee in June 2017.
  • In August 2017 a Digital Humanities Workshop was held at the University of Strathclyde. Their aim of this workshop was to bring together researchers from the extensive research base of both computing and the humanities across Scotland. 2 internationally researchers gave keynotes (Professor Lorna Hughes and Professor Daniela Petrelli), with most of the rest of the day taken up with networking and knowledge sharing events.

As can be seen from the activities above, we are interested in a range of events to support HCI researchers in Scotland and also interested in expanding our network and research world view. If you want to get involved or have some new ideas for our community please get in contact. The Research Theme Leaders for Human-Computer Interaction are Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey.

Helping your Cyber Security Journey

by Alan Settery, SICSA Cyber Security Network Integrator
9 October 2017

As always Freshers week was full of enthusiasm and energy as students were welcomed across Scotland’s universities and now settle down to start their new computing science and cyber security courses.

It’s an exciting time to be involved and set out on this journey; technology is evolving at a fast pace and there are a lot of interesting areas to be involved in – from bit coins and block chain to artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous cars; from a raspberry pi and hackathons to the cloud, supercomputers and big data analytics. Of course cyber security needs to be considered in all of these areas and many more. We know the importance being digitally safe and secure plays in our day to day lives and the role industry has in dealing with cyber threats to our services and infrastructure.

Cyber UpdateRecently, some students may have attended the CyberFirst events held across universities – Edinburgh Napier University and University of Glasgow. These courses are organised by the National Cyber Security Centre and aimed at encouraging 11 – 17 year olds to the world of cyber security. It is worth noting that CyberFirst is a Student Bursary scheme which is available to first year students at university too – details are available and applications are usually open in April each year. https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/articles/cyber-first-bursary-scheme.

Interestingly Lockheed Martin have sponsored CyberFirst too. http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/uk/news/press-releases/2017-press-releases/lockheed-martin-backs-governments-cyberfirst-initiative-to-find-tomorrows-online-security-experts.html

For those of you with an interest in, but not already on a cyber security course, if would like to know more about the topic there is a free on-line Open University introduction through Future Learn. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/introduction-to-cyber-security/12 This covers, Threat landscape, Authentication, Malware, Networking & Comms, Cryptography, Network Security, Defences and Risks and could be a flexible way to understand more.

Did you know?

 – October is the raising Cyber Security awareness month in Europe  https://cybersecuritymonth.eu and in the USA https://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

Another successful HCI All Hands Day

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey, SICSA HCI Research Theme Leaders

The SICSA HCI All Hands day was held on Tuesday November 29th at the University of St Andrews. This is an annual event where members  of the the SICSA HCI theme meet to reflect on the previous year and to discuss how to move forward for the following year. The event was a sell out and was attended by approximately 60 participants from across SICSA institutions.

Prior to the event beginning the SACHI research group in St Andrews hosted a pre-event reception and open lab session where they demonstrated some of their innovative demos.

The main meeting was bookended by two keynote talks. The opening keynote entitled “Amplifying the Mind with Digital Tools: Technologies to Enhance Human Perception and Cognition” was given by Professor Albrecht Schmidt, University of Stuttgart. This talk focussed on how digital tools can provide us with entirely new opportunities to enhance the perceptual and cognitive abilities of humans, and the interesting research problems that arise. The closing keynote entitled “Open Data Islands and Communities: How do we make digital technology serve those at physical and social margins of society?” was given by Professor Alan Dix, University of Birmingham. Alan’s talk focused particularly on open data, how we can devise ways to make it more easily found, accessed, and visualised by small communities at the edges, and moreover how they can become active creators of information: producers not merely subjects of data.

During the day we had a town hall meeting to discuss future directions for the SICSA HCI theme. One of the outcomes from this was a list of potential future events for the HCI theme over the next year. We also had a madness presentation session, each research group attending was allowed 3 minutes to present an overview of their research group. In total close to 20 groups from most SICSA universities were represented. This was a useful exercise to raise awareness of different groups and capabilities across Scotland. The variety of topics and approaches to research (from practical and industry-oriented to more abstract and fundamental research) was an eye-opener.

Over lunch we had a presentation from and discussion with the new SIGCHI UK chapter. SIGCHI is the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction, and is considered one of the world’s leading organisations. The aim was to raise awareness of the new UK chapter and also discuss the potential for SICSA HCI and SIGCHI UK to help each other. SIGCHI UK also sponsored a social event at the end of the All Hands meeting, the fruitful discussions that started over coffee and lunch during the day were thus able to continue later on in the pub.

Overall this was an extremely successful and well attended event. The SICSA HCI community has been strong for a long time, and this was obvious at the meeting.