SCSS Computer Science and Statistics Newsletter 2015 16

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Research Page 3 News and Events Page 5 Alumni News Page 7



Welcome to our latest newsletter which highlights some of the achievements during 2015/16. Professor Jeremy Jones Head of School

We must, however, first acknowledge the death of Professor John G Byrne who died on 16th April 2016, aged 82. Affectionately known to us all as “The Prof”, his 50 years at Trinity College Dublin has left a legacy which I am sure will not be surpassed. Having established Computer Science as an academic discipline in Ireland in the late 1960s, he oversaw its growth, development and success over many years. John was responsible for the education of generations of Computer Science and Engineering students and launching them on exciting and worthwhile careers. The Irish Times Obituary had it right by calling him “the father of computing in Ireland”. John was a strong inspiration to all of us, yet was unassuming, modest by nature and never sought public recognition. We have a lot to thank him for. I can certainly remember my first meeting with John. It was January 1974, in his Pearse St. Office with papers piled high on every available surface, but every paper in its place. I felt so proud to be there, as a Junior

Freshman student, to collect my book prize on PL/1 and PL/C programming, which I still have on my shelf to this day. I’m sure you have your own memories of John, and with this in mind, we plan to publish “Memories of John G Byrne” in hard and e-book form. We invite you to contribute your best recollections. We are particularly interested in pieces which illuminate aspects of his character and wide interests. Your contribution should be at least 100 words but no more than 2,000. You should confirm that you are happy to have your name and affiliation published alongside your contribution. Please send your contribution to Chris Horn ( by 16th September 2016. Chris has kindly agreed to collate the submissions and arrange publication.

Professor John G Byrne

Newsletter 2015-16

World-Renowned Creative Technologies Researcher joins Trinity College Dublin

Professor Aljosa Smolic

Trinity College Dublin has appointed Professor Aljosa Smolic, a world-renowned creative technologies researcher to lead a cutting-edge research programme that will increase Ireland’s capability as a global centre of creative industries and production.

 Professor Smolic has been awarded €4.5 million in funding under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship Programme to work on the V-SENSE project. He joins Trinity from Disney Research in Switzerland where he was a Senior Research Scientist, leading the Advanced Video Technology Group. He brings to the role an impressive track record, combining leading academic research with the development and commercialisation of technology. He is a recognised leader in his field of visual computing, with particular expertise in computer graphics, computer vision, multimedia and video signal processing.


His work has had a significant practical impact on industrial technologies in the areas of 3D video technology, forming the basis for 3D Blu-ray and stereo 3D production technology. At Disney Research he led over 50 industrial R&D projects that have resulted in technology transfers to a range of Disney business units. They include film studios, TV broadcasters, consumer products and are used in professional production today.

 Commenting on his appointment as SFI Professor of Creative Technologies, Professor Smolic said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to be joining Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin where we will develop a centre of excellence in Creative Technologies. This is part of an even bigger endeavour to establish Dublin and Ireland as a global hub in this field".

 Announcing the award and welcoming the appointment Professor Mark Ferguson,

Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Professor Smolic is recognised internationally as a leading researcher in the field of visual computing. He has an exceptional track record both in terms of scientific publications and industry collaboration and his appointment will enhance both Trinity College Dublin and Ireland’s standing as a location for research in creative technologies". Before his time at Disney Research he was Scientific Project Manager at the Fraunhofer HeinrichHertz-Institut (HHI), Berlin, also heading a research group. He has been involved in many national and international research projects, where he conducted research in various fields of video processing and visual computing, and published more than 130 refereed papers in these fields. He has been granted 11 patents and currently has 23 patents filed with Disney.


Computer Science and Statistics

Research ADAPT Centre to Position Ireland as Digital Capital of Europe Over the next six years 200 highly skilled postgraduate students will be trained at the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, which has secured €50 million in funding; €24 million from Science Foundation Ireland and a further €26 million from 19 industry partners. The investment will also foster the development of spin-out companies and the creation of 300 high skill jobs. With an excellent track record, a unique research fusion, a host of commercial licenses to its name and some of the world’s leading organisations collaborating on research projects, ADAPT is set to lead the way in the area of digital content technology. “The expertise within ADAPT is helping to position Ireland as a world leader in digital content technologies that will transform our online engagement in the future. ADAPT’s specialists and researchers are the lifeblood of a new digital revolution that has the potential to transform our economy,” commented the Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills, Damien English TD at the official launch of the Centre in January 2016. Led out of Trinity College Dublin’s School of Computer Science and Statistics and headed up by Professor Vincent Wade,

ADAPT combines the expertise of researchers at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, and Dublin Institute of Technology with that of its industry partners to develop next generation digital content technologies. The aim is to enhance people’s lives by helping to analyse, personalise and deliver digital content more effectively for businesses and individuals.

multinational enterprises such as Intel, PayPal and Huawei, ADAPT has garnered significant commercial expertise. The Centre continues to seek opportunities to work with new industry partners to further diversify and strengthen its research and identify new uses for the technologies under development. In a world that has become increasingly connected online, digital content has an important role to play in many spheres.

The scope of research at ADAPT covers the analysis and extraction of knowledge from information, the curation and delivery of knowledge to suit personal needs, and the translation using machine learning of information across language to break down barriers to information exchange and reach, and the use of multi-modal interaction with information using speech and graphics as well as text.

The centre is expected to revolutionise how customers and companies engage with each other digitally. Leading-edge innovations will enable delivery of the right content to the right customer, at the right time, in their preferred format and language, and on the device of their choice. Already many sectors such as the gaming industry, ICT, publishing, commerce, e-commerce, insurance, marketing, pharmaceuticals, medicine and education are taking advantage of the opportunities presented from ADAPT research.

Having engaged with more than 140 companies in Ireland and beyond, ranging from indigenous start-ups such as Air Learning, Iconic and Xanadu to


Newsletter 2015-16

Research award for ALIGNED their applications, such that flexible apps and analytics can use data that exists in a variety of formats. This will lay the foundations for the next generation of big data systems that lower costs and deal with the challenges of dynamism, complexity, scale, and data inconsistency on the web.

ALIGNED received an award from the Irish Research Council's New Foundations scheme for "Cliodynamics Research Network Ireland II" in February 2016. This award will support the building of an international interdisciplinary network of researchers who are interested in Cliodynamics - the study of historical dynamics through data-driven history and mathematical modelling. It will bring together researchers of all stripes to drive further development and research in this area - computer scientists, archaeologists, social scientists, archivists, and historians.

 The chief goal of ALIGNED is the development of software that will allow developers to incorporate big data from the web into

ALIGNED brings together world class computer science researchers (Trinity College Dublin, the University of Oxford, and the University of Leipzig), software companies specialised in data-intensive systems (Semantic Web Company), information companies (Wolters Kluwer) and academic curators of the Seshat Global History Databank, large datasets describing world history and archaeology (University of Oxford, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań). ALIGNED is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 644055. As part of this research network, ALIGNED hosted the 2nd IFIP International Workshop on Computational History and Data-driven Humanities in Dublin on May 25th at Trinity.

Virtual Reality Game to Teach Peacekeeping Skills A new virtual reality game to train international military and police in peacekeeping skills such as communication, cultural sensitivity and gender awareness is being developed by an EU-wide consortium led by a team of researchers from sociology, computer science and psychology at Trinity College Dublin. It is planned that all military, police and civilian personnel being deployed in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding missions such as those to Afghanistan, Palestine and Libya will be able to receive training through the online role-playing game – ‘Gaming for Peace’. The ‘Gaming for Peace’ project has been funded by a €2 million grant from the European Commission under the Horizon 2020


programme. Led by Trinity, it brings together 14 collaborative partners from academia, military, police, civil actors and business, including the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Finnish military, the Polish military and Polish police, Laurea University in Finland, the Ted Kennedy Institute at NUI Maynooth, Upskill in Belfast, and Irish computer games company Haunted Planted, led by Mads Haahr, who is also an Assistant Professor in Computer Science in Trinity. The European Security and Defence College, which oversees the training of all EU personnel deployed on peacekeeping missions, the UN and NATO have all expressed interest in using the end product of the project.

Slándáil - Social Media in Disaster Response Project update Slándáil, a collaborative project (20142017) between organisations across the EU aims to ethically improve the use of social media to respond to disaster. Academic partners have developed advanced text, image, video and communication systems, combined with terminology and ontology development, to work with this coupled emergency management system. SME companies have combined their technologies – a text and media monitoring system and an emergency alarm system – to create a system that links social media to emergency control room operators. An ethical framework has also been developed for harvesting data building a unique legal framework, partfacilitated by Dublin firm Arthur Cox LLC. Communications strategies for emergency managers also form a key part of the project. Emergency response teams at An Garda Síochána, the German Bundesministerium (military reserve, Saxony), Italian Civil Protection (Veneto region) and the PSNI are involved in end user development. Slándáil is coordinated by Professor Khurshid Ahmad, School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin. A full list of partners and further information about the project can be found at (EU FP7 Project Number 607691).


Computer Science and Statistics

News and Events Computer Science Students Aim to Build World’s First Decentralised Poker Site Computer science students from Trinity College Dublin are working to build a completely decentralised, peer-to-peer poker site that will operate without the need for a trusted-third-party hosting site. The platform will use Bitcoin as currency, for betting purposes, and implement a cryptographic algorithm to ensure fairness of the card deal and money distribution. The basic protocol of the Trinity team’s idea requires every player to encrypt and shuffle the card deck before the game to ensure that nobody has any knowledge of the order of the cards, or of which cards his opponents are dealt. To view any card, all players must first decrypt that card in a cycle. The game is entirely transparent as all players can verify the fairness and correctness of the cards after each hand completes.

Eamon McNamee

Bitcoin’s decentralised payments and irreversible, transparent transactions are essential to the solution as poker demands money to be committed as soon as each bet has been placed. This means that no player can cheat by exiting a game early or requesting a refund if they don’t like the look of their cards.

Girls in Tech During 2015/16, 400 girls from schools around Dublin took part in the CodePlus programme with Bridge21. It is now in its second year and is supported by the ICS Foundation. The girls created animations and games using the Scratch programming language and some moved on to creating their own apps or starting more advanced programming using Python. These ‘girls only’ workshops are part of the school’s response to the national call to increase female participation in Computer Science. A graduation and showcase of their work was held in the Science Gallery on Friday May 6th. If you would like to know more about Bridge21 or get involved as a supporter please contact: Brendan Tangney, Academic Director, Bridge21, 01-8961223/ or Sinéad Pentony, Associate Director, Trinity Foundation, 01-8964564/ Enquiries from all Transition Year students who are interested in participating in any of our workshops are welcome to:

While studying in his 4th Year, Computer Science student Eamon McNamee used this technology to create a proof-of-concept poker game between two players. He approached the issue from a research perspective, but in doing so was also able to assess its potential viability for industry purposes, saying: “Poker is a perfect example of a fundamentally trust-based game. With the advent of Bitcoin, a cryptographic solution to a fair, decentralised, poker network is entirely possible. This idea may have far-reaching implications in other trust-based industries, such as banking, as we have already seen the decentralisation of information transfer and money transfer with technologies like BitTorrent and Bitcoin”. Professor of Computer Science, Donal O’Mahony, is overseeing the investigations. He said: “This is a great example of students combining fundamental work in cryptography with clever bitcoin payment techniques to produce a really novel service. Similar trust problems exist in many financial transactions and I believe this idea will find applications in some surprising places”.


Newsletter 2015-16

Internship Profile internship. As for why Switzerland, I wanted to stay in Europe and I was offered an interesting project based in the Zurich office. What excites you about the work you’re doing? The most exciting thing about working at Google is the exposure to a lot of large scale technologies and big data, something that’s often absent from an academic environment. As I am doing a research project, I have a lot of control over what I do and that’s very empowering. I’m expected to publish a research paper by the end of the 6 months and think that that’s an amazing opportunity I would not get otherwise.

What skills have you developed? So far I’ve been doing a lot of data analysis, so I’m learning a lot about about statistical thinking and big data processing and I’ve been using Google’s Map­Reduce framework to help speed up the process. Would you recommend the internship route to other students? Why? Definitely. I think an internship offers you a different perspective and allows you to apply everything you’ve learned in college to real life situations. Plus you get to connect with a lot of smart and interesting people, which can be a valuable asset in the future.

What made you choose Google Switzerland for your internship? I had interned at Google in the summer of my 2nd year so I was familiar with the company and I knew I would learn a lot during this

How do you spend your time? During the week, I come in at around 10am, have breakfast and get to work. I have weekly meetings with my manager about the project, but other than that I don’t attend many other meetings. On a typical day I would leave work at around 7pm after having dinner. On the weekends I travel around Switzerland and Europe.

What are your plans for the future? I’m hoping to do my Master’s thesis in the area of Machine Learning/Natural Language Processing and hopefully come back to Google full­time in a year from now.

Congratulations to our new Fellow at SCSS

Congratulations to our new Scholars

Congratulations to Professor Douglas Leith who was elected to Professorial Fellowship.

Computer Science: Sarah Sharkey, Dário Tavares Antunes, Luke Egan and Daniel Crawford

Sports Person of the Year goes to Computer Science and Business Student

Yana Kulizhskaya

Management Science & Information Systems Studies: Rachel Margaret Henry

Shadowing 2016

Professor Douglas Leith


The 2016 Spring Shadowing experience was very popular again this year with students from more than twenty five schools joining our first years for a 'day in the life'. The experience is designed to assist students in making more informed choices about their study paths which is key to their success in college . The participating students gained a better understanding of what to expect on our undergraduate courses. For further information, email: Informal enquiries during the year about any aspects of our courses are also welcome.

Badminton sports scholar Prakash Vijayanath won Sports Person of the Year at this year’s Trinity Sport Awards and Commons. The Sports Awards, open to all the college’s sports clubs, are designed to acknowledge the extraordinary commitment made by the sporting community here in Trinity.

Pictured L-R: Sonia O'Sullivan, Prakash Vijayanath and Michelle Tanner, Head of Sport


Computer Science and Statistics

Alumni News The Class of 1985 Reunion The graduates from 1985 reunited on campus in August 2015. They visited their old classroom in the Museum Building and then met up with some staff in the Global Room. Thank you to the Class of '85 Reunion Committee for organizing the successful event.

Health Informatics Alumni Group The recently formed Health Informatics (HI) alumni group was invited to host its first workshop at the HISI conference at the Aviva stadium last November. The workshop focused on careers in Health informatics and the roles that HI graduates can play in the Irish eHealth community. Excellent feedback was gathered on challenges and suggestions for the HI community in Ireland going forward which has been presented to Richard Corbridge, CIO of the HSE and CEO of eHealth Ireland. The first HI alumni social gathering was also organised to coincide with the HISI conference and took place at Crowes pub in Ballsbridge. A good evening was had by all. Congratulations to Sinead Impey, Mubshir Ali, Anil Deo and Sarah Moore who won The Best Paper Award for HISI 2015: ‘Implementing eHealth Projects: Identifying barriers to adoption’.

Sarah Nolan BA(Mod), MCS wins Professor John G Byrne Prize Congratulations to Sarah Nolan, B.A. (Mod), MCS, who was awarded the 2015 Professor John G Byrne Prize in recognition of her academic achievement at Trinity College. Reunion Reception-L-R-Susan Barry, Paula McGrath, Marie Coleman, Aine Shivnan

Where are you now?

This prize was established in 2014 with funds provided by Alumni of the School in honour of the late Professor John G Byrne, Chair of Computer Science 1973-2003, and Head of the Department of Computer Science from its founding in 1969 to 1987 and from 1990 to 2001. In celebration of excellence, the prize is awarded annually to the student who achieves the highest overall result in the Master's year of the integrated Computer Science course provided the result is at distinction level. Sarah is currently working with SAP as a Software Developer.

We would love to hear your news for our next newsletter. All contributions welcome to:

Upcoming events The School will welcome the class of 1986 back on August 26th 2016. Contact for more information. Showcase of MSc Dissertations O’Reilly Institute on Thursday 8th September at 4 p.m. Register your interest in attending to: See last year’s event at:

Sarah Nolan with Jeremy Jones, Head of Computer Science and Statistics and Mike Brady Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning


Paul and Theresa Johnston Graduate Fellowship Fund to Support Engineers and Computer Scientists Trinity College Dublin Civil Engineering graduate, Dr Paul Johnston, and his wife, Theresa, have endowed a significant graduate fellowship to cover the cost of an engineering or computer science student attending Stanford University each year. The $1.2 million fellowship fund was established to attract exceptional graduate students in engineering and computer science from Ireland, with a special focus on graduates of Trinity. Dr Johnston is President and Chief Executive Officer of Exponent, an engineering and scientific consulting company headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Dr Johnston who holds a doctoral degree in Civil Engineering and a master’s degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford was previously a Consulting Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Stanford University, and a member of the Stanford School of Engineering Advisory Council. He is currently a member of Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering Development Board. Theresa Johnston, a graduate of Political Science and Communication from Stanford, currently works as a freelance writer specialising in K-12 and post-secondary education. She is a contributing writer for

Stanford Magazine, Packard Children’s News, Stanford Lawyer and Stanford Business magazines.

Dr Paul Johnston and Theresa Johnston

Remember. The power of a legacy to Trinity Oregon Maple Library Square Planted early 1800s

There’s an old saying that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade one does not expect to sit. When you leave a legacy to Trinity however big or small, you’re planting a tree which will grow to provide shelter to many. You’re empowering ground-breaking research which will benefit people in Ireland and all over the world. You’re supporting students from all backgrounds to access a Trinity education. You’re helping preserve our unique campus and heritage for new generations.

When you remember Trinity in your will, you join a tradition of giving that stretches back over 400 years – and reaches far into the future. For more information about leaving a Legacy to Trinity, please contact Carmen Leon. T. +353 1 896 1379 E.

Get Involved

Upcoming Alumni Events

Class Notes

Trinity has a long tradition of outreach and community engagement. To find out about the numerous ways you can get involved with Trinity both at home and abroad, see

Christmas Commons 7 and 14 December 2016

Do you have any news or updates that you’d like to share with your fellow alumni? Submit your news with an image, subject of study and year of graduation to For more information see news-events/publications

Other Upcoming Events: @tcdalumni


The School of Computer Science & Statistics O’Reilly Institute Trinity College Dublin 2, Ireland Phone +353 (0)1 896 1765 Email

tcd alumni


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