Computer Science News

AI experts at UCL develop a more robust autopilot system

Haitham Baomar and his colleague Peter Bentley are developing a special kind of autopilot: one that uses a “machine learning” system to cope when the going gets tough, rather than ceding control to the crew.

As reported by The Economist, today’s autopilots cannot be trained because they are “hard coded” programs in which a limited number of situations activate well-defined, pre-written coping strategies — to maintain a certain speed or altitude, say. A list of bullet points (which is what such programs amount to) does not handle novelty well: throw a situation at the computer that its programm... [more]

Peter O'Hearn elected fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering is the UK’s national academy for engineering and brings together the most successful and talented engineers from across the engineering sectors for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. 

The Academy's Fellowship represents the nation’s best engineering researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, business and industry leaders. Election to the Academy is by invitation only; about 50 Fellows are elected each year by peer review from nominations made by existing Fellows. They are distinguished by the title "Fellow of the Royal Academy of ... [more]

Google Research Fellowship for Aron Monszpart

UCL-CS Research Student Aron Monszpart has been awarded the Google PhD Fellowship in Machine Perception to continue exploring how computers can learn about their environment from observing how humans use it. Aron is a member of the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics Research Group.

Aron's research topic is 3D scene understanding with unseen priors. We as humans use many other cues than just vision to interpret our environment, something that's still lacking in scene understanding performed by machines. Aron's research investigates how simple assumptions about the environment can yield... [more]

Team of UCL undergrads win Facebook AI Research award

A team of Computer Science Undergraduates and researchers have won award from Facebook AI Research for work presented at the RepEval 2016 workshop. The project, led by Pontus Stenetorp, Research Associate, uses an enjoyable language-based game to collect linguistic annotations and also to introduce a novel way to evaluate AIs that communicate using natural language.

Congratulations to the student team comprised of Iuliana-Elena Parasca, Andreas Lukas Rauter, Jack Roper and Aleksandar Rusinov; and thanks to and Guillaume Bouchard and Sebastian Riedel for their input too.

The project was part of... [more]

New scheme to aid image search featured on news site

Online databases now contain huge numbers of images. However there is only limited ability to search within these databases for an image with particular characteristics. Systems may rely on images being annotated with meaningful descriptions - "metadata".

Peter Wonka (of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Paul Guerrero and Niloy Mitra (both from University College London) wanted to add something more powerful to the currently limited repertoire of image search tools without adding extra metadata to existing images. They devised a query tool they call a relation-aug... [more]

Computer-Aided Verification award for Peter O'Hearn

Professor Peter O'Hearn was one of seven researchers to share the 2016 CAV (Computer-Aided Verification) Award.

The annual CAV Award was established in 2008 by the steering committee of the CAV conference, which is the premier international event for reporting research on computer-aided verification, a sub-discipline of Computer Science that is concerned with ensuring that software and hardware systems operate correctly and reliably.

The 2016 CAV Award was given on July 21, 2016, at the 28th annual CAV conference held in Toronto, to Josh Berdine, Cristiano Calcagno, Dino Distefano, Samin I... [more]

Can a computer copy your handwriting?

Researchers at UCL Computer Science have taught a computer to imitate anyone's handwriting. They have created an algorithm that can take a sample of handwritten text, examine its qualities, and then write any text in the same style.

There are already typefaces in word processing programs that produce text in a fairly uniform handwritten style. But what Research Associate Tom Haines, member of UCL'S Intelligent Systems Research Group, and colleagues have done is create software that they claim reproduces the messy details of any individual writer's hand.

They call their system My Text In Your ... [more]

Gordana Novakovic wins Arts Council grant for digital art exhibition

The "Technology Is Not Neutral" exhibition will take place the at Phoenix Brighton as part of Brighton Digital Festival 2016 from 2nd - 25th September. It will be a major new touring exhibition of digital artworks by leading pioneering and contemporary female digital artists. The exhibition is curated by UCL-CS artist in residence Gordana Novakovic, Anna Dumitriu and Irini Papadimitriou.

From drone choreography, sequencing of bacteria and brainwave art to hacking reality, social media activism and telepresence, this exhibition will highlight the contribution of female artists in shaping what... [more]

Battery status used to track people online

Lukasz Olejnik, Research Associate at UCL Computer Science, has contributed to a debate on how battery status indicators might be used to track devices, leading to privacy exposure.

Security researchers from Princeton University have shown that the battery status indicator really is being used in the wild to track user, a year after a privacy warning was issued. By running a specially modified browser, Princeton's Steve Engelhard and Arvind Narayanan found two tracking scripts that used the API to “fingerprint” a specific device, allowing them to continuously identify it across multiple contex... [more]

UCL success at GECCO Human Competitive Awards (HUMIES) 2016

UCL's Centre for Research on Evolution, Search and Testing (CREST) was recognised at the GECCO Human Competitive Awards (HUMIES) 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

The Department would like to congratulate:

Alex Marginean who received the Gold medal and a $5000 prize for his work on Automated Transplantation, with Earl Barr, Justyna Petke, Yue Jia and Mark Harman;


Federica Sarro who received the Bronze medal and a $2000 prize for her work on Multi Objective Effort Estimation with Alessio Petrezziello and Mark Harman.

The Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) presents the late... [more]

PhD student wins elevator pitch competition

Jonathan Bootle wins the PhD student elevator pitch competition at the annual ACE-CSR conference.

UCL is among thirteen UK universities that have been recognized as Academic Centres of Excellence in cyber security research by GCHQ and EPSRC. At the annual conference for the ACE-CSRs, UCL PhD student Jonathan Bootle presented joint work with Andrea Cerulli, Pyrros Chaidos, Jens Groth and Christophe Petit on space-efficient zero-knowledge proofs, which was published earlier this year at the internationally leading cryptography conference EUROCRYPT 2016.

The main contribution is a protocol that ... [more]

Yvonne Rogers wins Microsoft Outstanding Collaborator Award

Yvonne Rogers, Professor of Interaction Design and Director of UCL Interaction Centre, has been announced as a Microsoft Research Outstanding Collaborator 2016. In its 25th Anniversary Year Microsoft is highlighting 32 great academics worldwide who have collaborated in a variety of ways with researchers in their labs over the years. These contributions have had an outstanding impact on the direction, visibility and value of Microsoft's research and products.

Since its founding in 1991, Microsoft Research has grown to be a worldwide symbol of excellence in computer science. Our over 1,000 sci... [more]

Computer Science Spinout is a winner at UCL Business' Annual Summer Reception

A data science spinout from UCL Computer Science has received the UCLB One-to-Watch award 2016. Co-founded by the Department's Dr Jun Wang, Reader of Information Systems, MediaGamma has built an Audience Decision Engine, where the “Audience” are viewers of online ads.

The Decision Engine uses Machine Learning to provide information to digital ad trading platforms about the expected behaviour of a person potentially about to view that ad. This helps to inform the real-time decision-making process of the bidding algorithm as to whether or not to show a particular ad to a particular person.

The c... [more]

UCL at Microsoft's Research Faculty Summit

Microsoft is hosting its seventeenth annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Washington. This year the summit focuses on where and how computing can contribute to increasing productivity in professional and personal activities.

Dr Emiliano de Cristofaro, Senior Lecturer at UCL Computer Science and member of UCL's Information Security Research Group, has been invited to deliver a talk How to keep your Genome Secret, with XiaoQian Jiang, University of California-San Diego; and Kim Laine, Microsoft Research.

Over the last 10 years, the cost of sequencing the human genome has come do... [more]

Network Analytics explored in Science

UCL Computer Science's Nataša Pržulj, Professor of Biomedical Data Science, with Research Fellow Noël Malod-Dognin, have had a perspective paper published at Science, 'Network analytics in the age of big data'. See more at
We live in a complex world of inter-connected entities. In all areas of human endeavor, from biology to medicine, economics, and climate science, we are flooded with large-scale data sets. They describe intricate real-world systems from different and complementary viewpoints, with entities being modeled as nodes and their co... [more]

Computer Science staff & students featured in Women in STEM documentary

UCL Engineering academics, researchers and students are featured in the documentary supported by The Manufacturers’ Organisation EEF and led by photographer, Stephanie Smith. “Women in STEM: The New Generation of Engineers” is a project about women in the manufacturing and engineering industries featuring them at different stages of their career, research and studies; as well as their personal pathways into STEM careers. The project looks at photographing women at all stages from apprentices and students right through to line managers and CEOs - to show to girls and young women the diversity o... [more]

Computer Science examines the effect of immigration on wealth inequality

The recent surge in economic inequality, together with current immigration pressures, are among the most distressing social and economic issues of our times.

In a recently published paper 'To what extent does immigration affect inequality?' (Physica A 2016 written by Tomaso Aste, Professor of Complexity Science and Head of UCL's Financial Computing & Analytics Research Group, with Yonatan Berman of Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, the links between these two phenomena are investigated, and highlights that immigration does not have a major impact on ... [more]

Restored artefact joins the UNESCO Register of World Heritage

A project led by researchers at UCL has resulted in an artefact being granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO.

The Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society has been likened to the Domesday Book, a great land survey of England from 1086. It will be honoured at UNESCO's UK Memory of the World awards in Cardiff. The event marks heritage collections of 'outstanding significance to the UK'.

Researchers from UCL including Professor Tim Weyrich, member of UCL’s Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group, and Professor Melissa Terras, Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humani... [more]

UCL Engineering's response to the EU Referendum Result

A message from The Provost

The outcome of the referendum is now known. While UCL did not take a formal position during the referendum campaign, I have given my personal view and you will have heard many other voices from the UCL community. The loss of EU membership will have a clear impact on universities such as UCL, particularly around the mobility of students and funding of research.

Today, more than ever, I want to reaffirm that UCL remains a global university through our outlook, people and enduring international partnerships. I also want in particular to address UCL’s staff and students... [more]