Computer Science News

Machine learning to help with searches for concealed weapons

A sample of shipping containers passing through the Port of Rotterdam is X-rayed. The resulting images are inspected by humans who search for anything suspicious - weapons for example. However, the process is time-consuming, so only a small fraction can be sampled.

The Computational Security Science (COMPASS) group at University College London (UCL), led by Lewis Griffin, may soon speed up the process by employing artificial intelligence. Dr Griffin is being sponsored by Rapiscan, who make the X-ray machines, to create software that uses machine-learning techniques to scan the x-ray images. T... [more]

UCL ranked 1st from London universities in NWERC

This year UCL has prepared and sent 3 teams to the NWERC (Northwestern Europe Regional Contest) part of ACM programming competition which was held in Bath on 20th November 2016.

During the contest, the teams consisting of three students had 11 algorithmic problems to solve. They must submit solutions as programs in C, C++, Java or Python (although it is not guaranteed every problem is solvable in Python). Programs are then run on test data. If a program fails to give a correct answer, the team is notified and can submit another program.

The winner is the team which correctly solves most proble... [more]

UCL receives Google grant towards automated fact-checking

Google has given €150,000 to three UK organisations, including UCL, who are working on fact-checking projects to help journalists and the public avoid falling for fake stories and bogus claims.

The funding announcement comes amid heated debate about the role of companies such as Facebook and Google in spreading fake stories that some claim influenced the results of the US election. The money is part of a €24m (£20.5m) round of funding from Google’s digital news initiative, which backs innovative projects in news across Europe.

€50,000 is being given to a project called Factmata, developed at U... [more]

Most updates to mobile apps don’t make a noticeable difference

The majority of updates to mobile apps don’t have a significant impact on user ratings, suggesting developers might release updates too frequently, according to a new study by UCL researchers. They found free apps were less likely to make an impact when their developers release an update compared to paid apps, although among the impactful releases, the impact was more likely to be positive for free apps.

“There’s a culture among app developers of getting more releases out than your competitors, but our research suggests they should think more carefully before putting out a release, as it might... [more]

UCL Student Project at Microsoft Future Decoded

The rise of online retailers, big-box-stores, and the increasingly personalized services offered to online shoppers, in conjunction with the economic downturn of 2008 and its residual economic effects, has meant that more and more British shoppers are turning away from the high street to address their shopping needs.

Although there has been some evidence of better economic performance in recent years, the high street economy has not always followed in step. As a result, there has been a net increase in vacant shop fronts across UK high streets.

To help address the needs of ailing UK high stre... [more]

Computer Science fills UCL liaison role at the Alan Turing Institute

David Pym, Professor of Information, Logic, and Security, and Head of the Programming Principles, Logic and Verification Research Group at UCL Computer Science, has been appointed UCL’s University Liaison Director with the Alan Turing Institute, succeeding Professor Sofia Olhede (UCL Statistical Science). 

UCL is a founding partner of the Turing, the UK’s national data science institute. Its mission is to:

  • undertake data science research at the intersection of computer science, mathematics, statistics and systems engineering
  • provide technically informed advice to policymakers on the wider implic... [more]

Today marks official launch of the second UK Robotics Week

UK Robotics Week 2017 officially launches today, with a range of robotics activities and challenges open to schools, academic institutions and industry sectors. These activities culminate in a national week of celebration being held 24th – 30th June 2017.

The first ever UK Robotics Week proved a huge success, encompassing a host of events up and down the UK, including public lectures, open labs, hackathons, tech weekends, conferences, and a state-of-the-art robotics showcase held on the last day.

The UK Robotics Week initiative is jointly spearheaded by founding supporters, the Engineering and... [more]

Technology is not Neutral

The "Technology Is Not Neutral" exhibition will take place the at the Watermans Arts Centre from 4th November 2016 to 8th January 2017 September. 

"Technology Is Not Neutral" is a touring exhibition project that highlights and investigates the work of a group of women artists in the field of digital arts. This new curatorial project explores methods of working with new technologies and the themes that bring these artists together.

From drone choreography, sequencing of bacteria and brainwave art to hacking reality, social media activism and telepresence, this exhibition highlights the contri... [more]

UCL research scrutinises Web Bluetooth API

Lukasz Olejnik, Researcher at UCL Computer Science, has given scrutiny to a new Web Bluetooth API, which stands to be one of the core components of Web of Things, the application layer of Internet of Things. It will enable sensors, beacons and user devices to communicate with each other.

Potential privacy problems according to Lukasz include:

1) Information leaks due to device names. Websites or attackers that can access a Bluetooth-enabled device could determine the owner's real name. Many people use their real names for naming devices, or in some cases, nicknames.

2) Behavioral monitoring. ... [more]

Dr Alex Silva awarded prestigious Leverhulme Trust Award

The Leverhulme Trust has announced the winners of the 2016 Philip Leverhulme Prizes, which includes Dr Alex Silva, Senior Lecturer at UCL Computer Science and member of the Programming Principles, Logic and Verification Research Group.

Philip Leverhulme Prizes have been awarded annually since 2001 in commemoration of the contribution to the work of the Trust made by Philip Leverhulme, the Third Viscount Leverhulme and grandson of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of the Trust.

The prizes recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recog... [more]

UCL Wins First Minerva Informatics Equality Award

The winner of the first edition of the Minerva Informatics Equality Award is UCL Computer Science Department for its comprehensive gender policy, the diversity of initiatives put in place as well as the strong evidence of positive impact.

This year’s edition of the Minerva Informatics Equality Award focused on gender equality initiatives and policies that help develop the careers of female faculty. The Award, organised by Informatics Europe and sponsored by Google, was presented at a special ceremony held in Budapest, Hungary, during the 2016 European Computer Science Summit. Dr Alexandra Silv... [more]

AI predicts outcome of human rights cases

An artificial intelligence system has correctly predicted the outcomes of hundreds of cases heard at the European Court of Human Rights,  UCL researchers have claimed. The AI predicted the verdicts to an accuracy of 79%, according to the scientists involved.

AI is increasingly being used in fields such as journalism, law and accountancy, though critics said no AI would be able to understand the nuances of a legal case. The study, which was conducted by researchers at UCL Computer Science, led by Dr Nikolaos Aletras of the Media Futures Research Group, and the universities of Sheffield and Penn... [more]

How hackers handle stolen login data

Computer Science Research Student Jeremiah Onaolapo and colleagues from UCL's Information Security Research Group decided to find out how quickly criminals react once they get access to an online account.

The team set up 100 Gmail accounts and then accidentally-on-purpose shared their log