18 July 2022,
by Andrew Murray, University of Strathclyde
Hi, I’m Andrew a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Strathclyde. My research interests are Optimisation, Planning and Scheduling and Explainable AI and my PhD work involves a combination of all of these technologies. As an example, consider you have to perform a number of tasks before a deadline (a problem well known to PhD students). The time it will take to complete these tasks is uncertain and driven by external factors (perhaps delays due to Covid), how can you plan and execute these activities such that you optimise the probability that you will complete them. That’s where my research comes in! In case you want to hear more feel free to give me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). More importantly, I’m here to discuss the Saltire Emerging Researcher exchange that I recently completed at Ericsson AI Research in Stockholm.
Shortly after starting my PhD I was introduced by my supervisor to a number of researchers at Ericsson AI research with whom he had been collaborating for a while on a number of interesting projects. I knew very little about the telecoms industry at the time, however I found the problems they were trying to solve fascinating and highly relevant to my research and was keen to learn more. As a result, I decided to apply for a Saltire Emerging Researcher grant to visit them in their beautiful office in Kista, Stockholm.
Internet service providers do as the title suggests – supply internet services to customers. These services can be made up of a number of components running on nodes within datacentres. With the rise of 5G, services are becoming more and more tailored to the needs of the customers. For example, Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) that have arisen due to the influx of household IoT devices (think Alexa) do not require the connection to be lightning quick, whereas things like Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), the type of information transfer required by self-driving cars, do. Figuring out the optimal way to configure these components in the datacentre, while catering to the varying demands of the customers, is exactly the problem I was working on.
While on the visit I worked alongside researchers from the Machine Reasoning team and implemented a toolchain capable of intelligently solving this problem. The toolchain is due to be validated on a real test case within Ericsson datacentres, with a report summarising the methodology and results to be presented in due course. Sometimes within research, there is a tendency to get lost in the theory and become desensitised to the practical applications of your research. This exchange was a fantastic opportunity to witness first-hand how my research and expertise can be applied to solve important problems within society. I look forward to continuing the collaboration in the future!
While the professional and academic benefits are obvious, I also gained a lot personally from the experience. I spent a lot of time at weekends exploring the beautiful islands around the Stockholm archipelago (some photos included) – an experience I would recommend to anyone thinking of visiting Stockholm.
I would like to thank my kind hosts at Ericsson AI research, as well as SICSA and everyone involved in the Saltire Emerging Researcher scheme. Hopefully this brief snapshot of my trip can inspire future emerging researchers to apply to help forge partnerships and drive innovation in Scotland and abroad. Cheers!