New SICSA Research Themes Announced

During recent months, the SICSA Directors have been working with the SICSA Committee and SICSA Member Institutions on a comprehensive review of the SICSA Research Themes, with a view to aligning them more closely with today’s research and funding landscape.  The SICSA Directors are now pleased to announce the new SICSA Research Themes, which will come into effect from August 2016.

From August 2016 the new SICSA Research Themes will be:

  1. Human-Computer-Interaction: SICSA already has a well-established HCI theme.  This continues to be an important area of work in Scotland.  As digital technologies become more and more pervasive there is a continuing need for a focus on modes of interaction between people and machines.  As the depth and scale of the digitalisation of our societies continues apace we will see the emergence of more complex interactions involving complex assemblies of people, digital technologies and infrastructure where effective interaction is essential to the delivery of essential services in a safe, secure and resilient fashion.
  2. Networking & Systems the digital infrastructure has become a critical aspect of modern society. We have reached the stage where many politicians and others see good access to the Internet and other digital services as a basic human right.  But research across Networks and Systems continues to ensure that the infrastructure is safe, secure, resilient, accountable, neutral, transparent, manageable, scalable, predictable, …  and is ready for the challenge of supporting waves of innovation such as the Internet of Things.
  3. Data Science: Covers the management and analysis of data to provide the basis for the creation of new knowledge about the phenomena captured by the data.  A key aspect of this work is also the research into how these techniques can help build a secure society while ensuring that the rights of people to privacy, accountability and transparency are preserved. This theme recognises that there is a large body of researchers in Scotland working in Data Science both in the development of fundamental new techniques in the management and analysis of data and in the application of Data Science across a broad range of application domains.  In particular the close association of SICSA with The Data Lab Innovation Centre focuses attention on the Digital, Financial, Health and Energy sectors as key areas for the exploitation of these techniques.
  4. Cyber-Physical Systems: This theme studies systems that are embedded in the world and are intended to sense and change the environment via actuators of one sort or another. There is a well-established robotics activity in the SICSA Universities, and a growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT).  IoT development will be critically influenced by the need for cyber-resilience as more and more of our physical surroundings become imbued with behaviour that is determined by software interacting with a host of other such embedded things.  Research on security and resilience will be a key feature both as a research challenge and as a major factor in the acceptance of IoT.  This theme is the main link point for the CENSIS Innovation Centre.
  5. Theory, Modelling and Computation: This research theme encompasses work on Theoretical Computer Science (including algorithms, cryptography, security, database theory, verification), Programming Languages, Logic and Mathematics. Here we will see the emergence of new results and techniques that will help drive long term development such as new privacy techniques, new approaches to distributed ledger technologies, program verification tools and techniques and new programming languages that are better adapted to the modern development and deployment environment.
  6. Artificial Intelligence: There is a strong group of Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers in Scotland working both on gaining a deep understanding of the nature of intelligence using computational thinking as a basis and in the application of AI techniques in a range of domains. This theme will provide a clear platform to further develop their work.  AI techniques are becoming ever more pervasive.  In particular the use of algorithmic techniques to interpret data and assist in the coordination of human and machines in an intelligent manner.  This area of work in particular has a considerable impact on the resilience of our societies and understanding the full effects of the embedding of AI in human activity is a key area of work for this theme.

All of the themes listed above have a key role to play in understanding how we can build a secure and resilient Digital Economy and Society.  In order to coordinate this work, each theme will designate an individual to help coordinate the cybersecurity aspect of the theme and as a group these individuals will help to coordinate work on cybersecurity and will interact with the cybersecurity network integrators.

Each theme will be led by one or more SICSA Research Theme Leaders.  Recruitment for these positions is now open and applications can be made via our Vacancies page.