Research in the School of Electronics and Computer Science
Future technologies for our future world
Photo: Andy Vowles
The MountbattenBuilding is a ÂŁ100m investment in UK science and technology, which will lead the countryâ€™s research in nanotechnology and photonics.
Research in ECS
Future technologies for our future world The School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton is world-class, research-led and multidisciplinary. The largest and most distinguished School of its kind in the UK, it has a worldwide reputation for its education, research and enterprise. This brochure presents an overview of the Schoolâ€™s research, profiling some of our academic staff and students, and highlighting some of our achievements over recent years.
Contents Introduction The PhD programme Doctoral Training Centres - Web Science - Institute for Complex Systems Simulation
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iPhD EPrints - ECS Research available on the Web ECS Research groups Communications Dependable Systems and Software Engineering Electrical Power Engineering Electronic Systems and Devices Information: Signals, Images, Systems Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia Learning Societies Lab Nano Pervasive Systems Centre Science and Engineering of Natural Systems
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Research Centres and Institutes in ECS Postgraduate funding opportunities The University and City
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Our world-leading facilities are central to our research capabilities and success - the Mountbatten Building, opened in 2008, is the leading cleanroom facility in Europe, with a unique range of equipment for future research in nanotechnology.
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
The School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton has been at the forefront of research and technology development for over 60 years. Today the School continues to define and develop substantial new areas of research that impact on the fast-changing world in which we live. ECS is the leading university department of its kind in the UK, with an international reputation for world-class research across computer science, electronics and electrical engineering. ECS is unique in the UK through its integration of its core subjects, its distinguished record of research success over many years and, especially, through the scale of its research activities. There are currently over 500 researchers in the School, all working at the leading edge of technology in areas such as digital applications to improve healthcare, transport, security and the environment, new devices for sensing and mobile communications, innovative ways to assess climate change and provide more efficient power generation, and the interface of biomedicine with new computing paradigms. ECS has a global reputation for its ability to define and develop new areas of research. One of the most important aspects of the School’s distinguished history was the invention and development of the fibre optic cable, which transformed the potential of global communications. This spirit of innovation characterizes all the School’s endeavours. Our recent ‘world firsts’ include harvesting energy from vibration (for example to power heart pacemakers), the establishment of the new discipline of Web Science, the first robot to be controlled by living cells, and the development of the world's first biometrics tunnel. The most widely used email protection system, MailScanner, was developed in ECS and continues to be run from the School; every day it protects 1 billion emails in government departments, global agencies, and major multinational companies.
Our Faculty includes some of the world’s most celebrated researchers, including Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, President of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest organization for computing professionals, Professor Lajos Hanzo, who has probably contributed more than any other individual to wireless multimedia communications, Professor Hiroshi Mizuta, who is leading research on developing new types of silicon-based devices which will create advanced functionalities at the nanoscale, Professor Stevan Harnad who leads the global campaign to increase access to research online, and Professor Nick Jennings, one of the world’s leading researchers in AI and agent technologies. The far-reaching and transformative effects of the research being undertaken in ECS can be gauged by our distinguished research partners, such as BAE Systems, Philips, ARM, BT, Microsoft, and Rolls Royce. Our current research portfolio is worth £65m, and our annual grant income is around £15m annually. In addition to our collaborative research we also have a strong reputation for the establishment of spin-out companies, particularly in the area of photonics and telecommunications.
‘As a world-class research school, we offer the best possible environment in which to undertake postgraduate research. The School’s 10 research groups all have international reputations, and our faculty includes some of the world’s leading researchers. A substantial element in our success is the strength of our research students and their contribution to our research projects.’ Professor Nigel Shadbolt Deputy Head of School (Research) Professor Nigel Shadbolt is currently advising the UK Government on the release of public data.
ECS is a place where things happen ...
Biometrics are an increasingly important aspect of security systems in public places. ECS houses the world’s only biometrics tunnel, a special research facility built to advance the pioneering research of Professor Mark Nixon and Dr John Carter.
ECS research – ranked world class In the UK the quality of a university department’s research activities is regularly assessed and the findings published. This is done through the ‘Research Assessment Exercise’ (RAE), a very large-scale initiative, backed by the UK government, and held every seven years or so. The RAE thoroughly examines all university research against a number of criteria, mostly focused on the international excellence and influence of the research. ECS is internationally renowned for its research and has achieved outstanding results in the RAEs. In previous RAEs, ECS received the top ratings of 5* for its research across the board - in Computer Science and IT, Electrical Engineering, and Electronics. Indeed, in 2003, ECS was awarded a special ‘Best 5*’ rating, reflecting the fact that it had achieved the 5* rating in both 1996 and 2001. The latest RAE was held in 2008, and again ECS achieved exceptional success. The methodology of the Exercise had changed slightly, with the top rating now being 4*, rather than 5*, and ECS was again ranked at the highest level. In the 2008 RAE Computer Science and IT at ECS was ranked joint second in the UK for the quality of its research, with 85 per cent of its research work receiving either the top 4* rating (defined as ‘world leading’) or the 3* rating (‘internationally excellent’). In Electronics and Electrical Engineering (in which ECS was assessed jointly with the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre),* ECS (and the ORC) came second in the ‘medals’ tables, with 42 researchers rated as achieving research of either world-leading or internationally excellent quality (4* or 3*). Overall ECS submitted 106 staff to this Research Assessment Exercise, and 97.5 per cent of their research work was deemed to be of international standard.
‘This is an excellent outcome for the School. We have achieved outstandingly good results and demonstrated once again that the driving force for the School remains its commitment to research work that is world-leading and transformative.’ Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science * The Optoelectronics Research Centre is one of the world's leading institutes for photonics research, based at the University of Southampton.
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
The PhD research programme ECS is one of the top schools in the world, with a vibrant community of over 270 postgraduate research students, 250 academic and research staff, and a rich and diverse research portfolio totalling over twice the average Research Council income of the other leading schools in the UK. ‘University research offers a unique opportunity to pursue a new field of study of your own choosing, free from many of the constraints that are present in the non-academic world. However, the research process is a complex, multi-faceted activity, demanding passion, application, personal discipline, method, scientific knowledge and insight and, of course, creativity and originality. Working within the structure of the ECS Graduate School will help you succeed in developing these qualities and skills. To be successful in your PhD studies will require considerable dedication and hard work on your part, but our hope is that you will also find research stimulating and fulfilling. We aim to support you throughout your time at ECS, both as you develop research skills and as you progress through different stages of your research. You will be assigned a team of supervisors to oversee your work during the entire enrolment period, and thereafter to help you assess your progress and research training needs. Direct and regular contact with your supervisors is the key for you to develop the relevant scientific insight, and will steer you towards creative and original thinking. We arrange induction activities designed to introduce you to the world of postgraduate research and to get you acquainted with the main ‘tools-of-the-trade’. We will deliver courses to sharpen your skills in oral communications, technical writing, research methodology, mathematics, and more. These are designed to give you the best opportunity to succeed as a research student and beyond. There are regular seminars held within the groups and across the School. Students are encouraged to attend international conferences and also to take part in international projects and competitions. Our students are drawn from many countries as well as diverse subject backgrounds, including computer science, electrical engineering, electronics, mathematics, psychology, the life sciences, physics, and economics. This ensures an intellectually lively, innovative, and high-achieving study environment, as well as a very friendly and welcoming social environment. We look forward to receiving your application’ Dr Paul Lewin Director, ECS Graduate School
Making your application We welcome applications for research degrees from wellqualified candidates. We offer a number of studentships which provide tuition fees and a significant maintenance allowance. This prospectus provides an overview of research in the School. Further information is available on the School’s web site, and especially in the group web sites. If you are interested in joining ECS to undertake PhD research, you should identify themes and subjects of the academic staff in your areas of interest. Alternatively you could contact the Head of the Group whose activities fit with your interests (see Group pages 12 - 30). The University of Southampton’s online applications procedure can be found at: www.soton.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgstudy/howdoiapplypg.html
PhD key facts Intake: 70 per year Start dates: Typically October, but throughout the year Study mode and duration: A PhD typically lasts three years (full-time) Entry requirements: First or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) Assessment: Thesis and viva voce examination Application procedure: Apply online using the University application form and sending supporting documentation. Application deadline: Applications are welcomed at any time, however application is advised by 1 May (especially if you wish to be considered for School funding) Funding: See page 34 for studentship details Fees per year 2010/11: UK/EU full-time £3,390 (09/10 rate subject to increase) Part-time £1,695 (09/10 rate subject to increase) International full-time £15,500 p.a. Contact: PhD Admissions School of Electronics and Computer Science University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ T +44(0)23 8059 2882 E email@example.com www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/admissions/pg/phd/apply.php
Research in ECS
Progress stages towards the PhD MPhil/PhD registration
No travel fund available before this point
Month 15 (max 24)
Upgrade to PhD Viva No travel fund available if 1st training incomplete Completed by month 24
Proceed like PhD, but final Viva typically not necessary
Possible 1 year max of nominal registration in months 25-48 when research is completed
MPhil registration Possible 1 year max of nominal registration in months 13-48 if research is completed
File intention to sumit form
File intention to sumit form
Submission: month 24 (min 12-max 48)
Min 2 months before submission by Jan 31 for Graduation in July
Examiners proposed by supervisors appointed byGradSchool Director
Submission: month 36 (min 24-max 48)
Supervisors arrange Viva date and venue
Deadline set by examiners according to complexity of required modifications: typically 1-3 months (6-12 in complex cases)
Subject to deposit dissertation in the Library (and Eprints)
Note: this illustrates typical work flows for full-time students.
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
Building the foundations for future science In 2008 the University of Southampton was awarded two prestigious Doctoral Training Centres in which the School of Electronics and Computer Science plays a key role. The Centres are providing a new generation of trained and skilled scientists with wide-ranging understanding across a range of disciplines. The new Doctoral Training Centres (DTC) are part of a £250m investment in the future of UK science and technology. The Southampton Centres are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and by the University.
Doctoral Training Centre
Complex Systems Simulation The DTC in Complex Systems Simulation is hosted in the new Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, and provides the fundamental training and research experience necessary to create a future generation of researchers able to use complex systems simulation effectively and rigorously.
shortage of resources, the effectiveness of global communications and the interdependence of the world’s economy.
The huge and increasing availability of computational power, raw data and complex systems thinking is now providing unprecedented opportunities for scientists to use computational modelling and simulation to better understand the structure and behaviour of large-scale and complex systems.
Over 50 academics spanning 14 research groups are involved in the Centre, which will recruit 100 new funded doctoral research students over the next five years. ‘We know that UK industry is short of the trained scientists and engineers needed to tackle the complex problems that exist in many sectors, and we have a very strong set of industrial partners involved in the Centre’s work,’ said Dr Bullock.
These systems present some of the most pressing real-world challenges for society, government and industry - in the environment, health and medicine, finance and economics, population growth, technology and transport. Understanding them better will drive progress in addressing global problems such as climate change, the need for better drugs and treatments, the
‘By providing PhD training in the context of live research challenges within appropriate complex systems, we can ensure that our doctoral graduates are fully equipped to act as research leaders in applying complex systems simulation to this century’s most pressing scientific and engineering challenges.’
The Institute’s research addresses live challenges within a broad set of application domains and fundamental problems in complex systems theory. Target systems span 22 orders of magnitude, from sub-atomic interactions to global processes. The application domains share a common concern with understanding how high-level phenomena arise from low-level interactions. In addition, each application domain relies increasingly upon sophisticated simulation modelling to interpret data, understand emergent phenomena, generate theory and hypotheses, direct experimentation, optimise design, and predict system behaviour. Application domains: Core complex systems simulation research; physical systems; biological systems, environmental systems; sociotechnological systems.
The DTC is directed by Dr Seth Bullock of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and chaired by Professor Jonathan Essex of the School of Chemistry,
Web Science The new Centre for Doctoral Training in Web Science underlines Southampton’s pre-eminence in this newly emerged research discipline. In 2006 Southampton established Web Science as a joint interdisciplinary research collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and global interest in researching the Web has been growing ever since (see www.webscience.org). Web Science has an ambitious agenda; it is inherently interdisciplinary - as much about social and organizational behaviour as about the underpinning technology of the World Wide Web. Its research programme targets the Web as a primary focus of attention, adding to our understanding of its architectural principles, its development and growth, its capacity for furthering global knowledge and communication, and its inherent values of trustworthiness, privacy, and respect for social boundaries. The new DTC in Web Science is directed by Professor Dame Wendy Hall, one of the pioneers of Web Science (along with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and Dr Daniel Weitzner) and will train 80 students. University Schools which will
participate in the interdisciplinary doctoral research and training in Web Science include Health Sciences, Law, Economics, Sociology, Mathematics, Psychology, and Humanities. Research in Web Science will enable greater understanding of the complex technical, social, economic and cultural inter-relations that are shaping the Web's growth and diversification, and which are fundamental to its future productive development. ‘We are looking for the brightest lawyers, economists, social scientists, psychologists, mathematicians and computer scientists to participate in our Web Science programmes and to provide leadership in the future of the digital society,’ said Profesor Hall. ‘The incredible support we have obtained from industry is evidence of the need industry has for people with the sort of interdisciplinary skills that we will be training our students to develop. The funding is a real boost for Web Science and we hope the Centre at Southampton will set an example that the rest of the world will follow.’ http://webscience.ecs.soton.ac.uk
DTC key facts Start date: October Study mode and duration: Full-time 4 years Entry requirements: First or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) Assessment: Year 1 - examinations, a written fulltime project and dissertation; Years 2 to 4 - thesis and viva voce examination Application deadline: 1 May advisable to be considered for studentship funding Funding: Funded studentships are available for students who meet EPSRC eligibility criteria
Fees per year: Year 1 as MSc; Years 2 to 4 as PhD (see p.6) Contact: Complex Systems Simulation T +44(0)23 8059 4510 E firstname.lastname@example.org Web Science T +44(0)23 8059 2738 E email@example.com
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
The Four-Year Integrated PhD â€“ Added value to your PhD The integrated PhD comprises an initial one-year specialist taught MSc course in either: Computer Science Electronic Engineering Electrical Engineering with subsequent progression to the three-year PhD degree. This four-year programme is specially designed for international candidates, ensuring maximum opportunity to benefit from our specialized teaching and facilities in the first year of study, before undertaking the more intensive PhD research. Your first year of study for the MSc degree will provide you with: Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of advanced theoretical foundations of Computer Science, Electronic Engineering or Electrical Engineering; Techniques for design and evaluation of computing, electronic and/or electrical systems; Current important research issues and recent research developments in specialized areas. After successful completion of the first year, you will receive an MSc degree in your subject of study â€“ Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, or Electrical Engineering. The programmes have been carefully designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills required either for an academic career as a researcher and teacher, or for a career in a public or private research organization. Full details of all course modules for Year 1 can be found on our Admissions web site: www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/admissions/pg/iphd/index.php
Supervision You will be allocated a PhD supervisor and research topic before starting the programme. You will normally remain with the allocated supervisor throughout the four-year programme, in order to achieve integration between your MSc and PhD degrees.
Intermediate awards If you pass the required examinations and project you will be awarded an MSc after 12-16 months, even if you continue to PhD. Those who are unable or unwilling to complete the MSc may leave the programme with a Postgraduate Certificate (subject to achieving 60 credits), or a Postgraduate Diploma (subject to achieving 120 credits).
Key facts Start date: October Study mode and duration: Full-time 4 years Entry requirements: First or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) Assessment: Year 1 - examinations, a written full-time project and dissertation; Years 2 to 4 - thesis and viva voce examination Application deadline: June Funding: Applicants must have four years full funding in place Fees per year: Year 1 as MSc; Years 2 to 4 as PhD Contact ECS PhD Admissions T +44(0)23 8059 2882 E firstname.lastname@example.org
Research in ECS
ECS Research - fully available on the Web ECS leads the world in the area of Open Access. Since all the research output of all members of the School is placed on the Web, you can gain a comprehensive perspective on the School’s research by consulting the ECS EPrints Repository. It is the School’s policy to maximise the visibility, usage and impact of its research output by making it available online. ECS was the first academic institution in the world to adopt a self-archiving mandate (2002), requiring all of its research output to be made Open Access on the Web in the ECS EPrints Repository. In December 2009 the repository has over 14,000 records of academic books, conference papers, and journal articles. The School has continued to play a leading role in the worldwide Open Access movement. ECS created the first and most widely used archiving software (EPrints); demonstrated the citationimpact advantage of self-archiving, maintains the Registry of Open Access Repositories, tracking the number, size and growth of archives worldwide, and the Registry of Institutional Self-Archiving Policies. EPrints is open source software developed in ECS, now used to run over 350 institutional repositories worldwide. It has a growing community of users and enthusiastic supporters around the world. ECS EPrints Repository http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/
Also on the School’s web site you will find a full account of the research activities of the groups: www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/research/groups.php and a full list of research themes: www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/research/themes/ Individual members of staff have personal web sites containing a great deal of information about their research; see www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/about/community.php
EPrints at the forefront of the world’s Open Acccess movement The first-ever internationally designated Open Access Week was held in October 2009, providing an opportunity to broaden awareness and understanding of Open Access to research and to celebrate the successes achieved by the Open Access movement, within the global research communities and the world’s higher education institutions. It was announced at the same time that the world’s 100th OA mandate had been adopted by the University of Salford, UK. The world’s first Open Access Mandate was adopted by the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton. In 2002 ECS proposed and then mandated that all of its own research output must be made accessible free for all on the Web in order to maximize its usage and impact. While mandates at first grew slowly, despite coming from significant national research funding councils, such as the NIH in the US and RCUK in the UK, last year’s adoption of mandates by Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and UCL provides a strong indication that the next steps in the growth of Open Access will be exponential, according to ECS Professor Stevan Harnad, one of the leaders of the OA movement. Dr Les Carr, Director of EPrints at ECS which provides the software to run many of the world’s leading repositories, underlined the importance of all this concerted effort: ‘It’s important to pay tribute to the coordinated action of the international research community,’ he said, ‘including funding councils and research institutions across the globe which have worked in harmony through proactive local policies (mandates) to bring about international Open Access through an established network of research repositories.’
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
The Communications group plays a key role in researching and advancing the necessary enabling technologies to facilitate a quantum leap in mobile phone technology, including the physical, network and service layers, as well as their joint optimisation. The groupâ€™s research activities are progressing towards the development of the next generation of wireless communications systems and their components. Long-term research in the group focuses on communications and information theory, which informs more short-term, applied research, while directly appealing to industrial partners across the globe. The Communications group is also involved in various European projects and projects with India and China.
It is anticipated that the near future will witness the integration of computation and communication in the form of highly intelligent shirt-pocket-sized multimedia communicators.
We will be free from old-fashioned keyboards and mouses, as input devices, we will just talk to our computers. Again, some computers already run advanced speech recognition software, but this is just the commencement of an era hallmarked by a paradigm, which is also often referred to as mobile
computing. This is because our communicators are expected to be well endowed with computing power, memory and networking facilities, in order to serve business and, ultimately, personal users on the move. Some elements of this system - such as palm-top personal computers or personal mobile radio voice and data communicators - are already widespread; however, further research is required in order to amalgamate them into more ergonomic devices, improve the variety and quality of services offered and accommodate the increasing traffic requirements, while providing near-ubiquitous radio coverage at a low cost. The various propagation scenarios of indoor and outdoor wireless systems are also dramatically different, as illustrated above, portraying the range of hostile outdoor macro-cells, the more benign micro-cells and the friendly - predominantly line-of-sight wave-propagation scenario of indoor cells. These indoor pico-cells are already in operation at virtually all railway stations, airports, filling
Academic staff and research interests in Communications PROFESSOR LAJOS HANZO, FIEEE Head of Group Wireless multimedia communications. PROFESSOR SHENG CHEN, FIEEE Adaptive signal processing for communications; intelligent control and learning systems. DR ROB MAUNDER Joint source and channel coding; iterative decoding; irregular coding; code and interleaver design.
DR SOON XIN NG Adaptive coded modulation; channel coding; spacetime coding; joint source and channel coding; OFDM and MIMO. DR LIE-LIANG YANG Wideband, broadband and ultra-wideband wireless communications; advanced signal processing for wireless communications; network information theory, network coding and co-operative networking; multi-user transmission and multi-user detection; smart antennas and multiple-input multiple-output wireless communications.
Research in ECS
stations, and pedestrian precincts; however, they will soon permeate all offices, homes and even vehicles, such as trains, buses and aeroplanes. In other words, some pico-cell base stations will be mobile themselves, providing higher quality radio coverage for users on a train than the outdoor network, penetrating the train from high-rise macro-cellular base stations. A further advantage of such roaming base stations is that, for example, a bus will be always in the vicinity to provide radio coverage to surrounding cars and pedestrians, when in a traffic jam. This is the scenario where a large tele-traffic surge is observed, for example, due to a road traffic accident. The potential of having a wireless home network is also fascinating - though requiring substantial further research - allowing us to monitor all our domestic appliances remotely, while on the move. Indeed, it will be our own ‘body area network’, which will do most of the monitoring and will draw the user’s attention to problems only when requiring personal attention. In most scenarios the user’s mobile agent will be capable of arranging directly for a service engineer to carry out the necessary maintenance job. The mobile agent will also be able to download the user’s favourite sound track or video clip, after negotiating the best possible deal over the network. This can then be viewed on the user’s multimedia communicator. The range of services available - once the imminent convergence of consumer electronics, computers and wireless communications takes place - are limitless. Only highly intelligent, nearinstantaneously adaptive communicators are capable of carrying out these complex functions and providing a seamlessly adjustable quality of service over the above-mentioned wide range of propagation environments, and user requirements. More specifically, there is a plethora of challenges and contradictory factors, which impose conflicting criteria on the associated research.
For these futuristic services to become attractive and affordable, they have to be offered nearubiquitously, at low cost and high quality. However, ‘tele-presence-like’ service quality requires a tremendous bandwidth for the transmission of full-motion video, for example. If this bandwidth requirement is multiplied by the ever increasing number of subscribers, only revolutionary new technologies will be capable of operating in the currently technologically inaccessible extremely high-frequency bands, where spectrum is still available for new services. Multimedia signal compression is a powerful means of reducing the required bit rate of video signals, for example. However, again, there are a range of contradictory requirements, since increasing the compression ratio is only possible at the cost of increasing algorithmic and implementational complexity, which requires bulkier batteries. A further problem - which is well-known for example in the context of zipped, highly compressed computer files - is that a single bit error may corrupt an entire file. Hence complex error correction techniques have to be invoked, in order to remove the associated transmission errors. It can thus be seen that the whole arsenal of signal processing has to be invoked in order to cope with calamities imposed by the wireless communications channel. This is the context of the work of the Communications group and makes for a fascinating era for telecommunications research. For further information about research opportunities in the Communications group, contact Professor Lajos Hanzo, or the appropriate member of the academic staff: T +44(0)23 8059 3125 E email@example.com
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
Dependable Systems and Software Engineering Dependable Systems and Software Engineering
The overall objective of the Dependable Systems and Software Engineering group (DSSE) is to conduct research which leads to increases in the dependability of software-based systems through the provision of architectures, construction methods, validation tools and the general advancement of software science. The dependability of software is of critical importance to society as a whole. Failures in software systems are enormously costly not only to developers, but also to the users of such systems, as well as the users and providers of services that depend on them. Our work on software engineering is concerned with management of the software development process and predicting and improving the productivity of software development. While much of our work has a strong mathematical underpinning; it is very much driven by practical experience, objectives and validation. Our research encompasses a wide range of activities covering software engineering practice, software architectures, formal design methods, automated verification, computational models and foundations. On the more practical side, we develop tools that help with software construction and validation. We also construct software applications to experiment with software architectures and construction methods. On the more foundational side, we develop theories and methods for a range of systems including distributed systems, ubiquitous systems, information systems, and control systems. The foundational work feeds into the development of tools and construction methods.
Challenges The software development process has evolved in recent years to become more agile through the
development of programming tools and programming methods. Nevertheless there are still many challenges in software engineering, not least our ability to predict the time it will take to produce software of high dependability. Research in this area continues to develop methods, both formal and semi-formal, and to devise means for measuring progress in an individual software project. Research in this area includes the development of languages, tools and methods both for generating software and for managing the software engineering process itself. DSSE has strong collaboration with industry which provides us with many exciting challenges and helps ensure the relevance of our research. We also have strong links with other groups in the School of Electronics and Computer Science and with groups in other national and international institutions. The strength of our researchers and collaborations provide a rich and cooperative research environment in which to work. The DSSE web site provides a full listing of all open PhD projects but the group welcomes other PhD proposals in its areas of research.
Major research themes Formal Modelling and Refinement - Tools and Theories System Verification Semantic Models and Theories Emerging Computing Paradigms Software Engineering Model checking for B
Research in ECS
Academic staff and research interests in DSSE PROFESSOR MICHAEL BUTLER Head of Group Dependable systems; formal development methods; verification tools; security.
DR JULIAN RATHKE Foundations of distributed and ubiquitous computing; semantics of programming languages; models of computation.
DR CORINA CIRSTEA Theory and applications of coalgebras; modal logic; category theory models, calculi and logics for ubiquitous computing.
PROFESSOR VLADIMIRO SASSONE Foundations of distributed and ubiquitous computing; logics, models and semantics of computation; computational trust and security models; formal methods.
DR BERND FISHER Automated code generation; formal methods; automated theorem proving; software correctness. DR DENIS NICOLE System performance and benchmarking, including the National HPC(X) service; workflow and scripting, including semantic annotations for reliable workflow; security, including interoperation between Microsoft and other technologies; dependable concurrent programming. DR MIKE POPPLETON Formal methods; requirements engineering; software engineering; generative methods in software engineering; theory of refinement and retrenchment.
For further information about research opportunities in DSSE, contact Professor Michael Butler, or the appropriate member of the academic staff: T +44(0)23 8059 3440 E firstname.lastname@example.org
DR PAWEL SOBOCINSKI Foundations of concurrency and distributed computing; categorical models; graph rewriting. DR KEN THOMAS High performance numerical methods. DR ROBERT WALTERS Distributed systems; formal modelling; software engineering.
FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES FOR OUR FUTURE WORLD
Electrical Power Engineering www.epe.ecs.soton.ac.uk
The activities of the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) group range from fundamental numerical modelling studies to the development of novel products and procedures in collaboration with industry. Major research themes are:
Electrical Power Engineering
A major focus of this research theme concerns the development of efficient techniques for the computational solution of electromagnetic problems using finite-element (FE) and related techniques. Recent developments include the use of kriging, pareto optimisation and various probability algorithms. These methods are then used to solve a wide range of important engineering problems ranging from magnetic optimisation around superconducting materials to the design of various electromechanical devices.
High voltage engineering This work is based in the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory and encompasses many different issues related to power systems, including the fundamentals of change transport in the bulk and at interfaces, the development of novel sensor systems and the development of methodologies for assessing the condition of many items of high voltage plant. This work also encompasses lightning strike endurance - an increasingly important aerospace issue.
conditions is of great practical importance. At a very different dimensional scale, the study of charge transport dynamics within disordered and inhomogeneous materials impacts upon our work ranging from high voltage plant to aerospace composites. A related area concerns discharge events in liquid nitrogen, where modelling of the rapid plasma expansion must include both fluid dynamics and ionisation thermodynamics.
Nanomaterials and dielectrics Components of electrical systems from transistors to supergrid transformers all rely on dielectric materials and, currently, polymeric materials are of paramount importance in an increasing number of applications. Our research is unique in the UK in bringing together expertise in high voltage engineering and materials physics to study topics such as the ageing and failure of polymers under ac and dc applied fields and the experimental study of charge transport dynamics. A topic of growing interest worldwide is the use of nanostructured materials as dielectric systems, although the fundamental physics governing the mechanical and electrical performance of these systems is poorly understood and consequently provides an excellent research challenge.
Modelling and simulation
Robotics and control
Experimental work is underpinned by a great deal of theoretical research. Novel FE (Finite Element) techniques have been developed for mesh adaption in two dimensions, in which the field distribution is iteratively used to determine the element size, orientation and shape, in order to create an optimal mesh. Numerical modelling of various coupled electrical, thermal and mechanical phenomena are being performed with emphasis on free and moving boundaries problems. A major issue with large power systems concerns the thermal consequences of large power flows through buried cables and therefore the ability to model this under different electrical and climatic
Current research focuses on the derivation and practical assessment of Iterative Learning Control algorithms using robotic test facilities. These control laws learn from their mistakes and have been shown to offer improved performance over traditional methods when applied practically to systems that repeat the same action continually. Work is also being undertaken to expand these techniques to deal with the constrained and object-driven demands associated with more varied tasks. In particular these novel approaches can be applied to control human movement, and to the rehabilitation of stroke patients using robotics and electrical stimulation.
Research in ECS
The application of temperature superconductivity to electrical power devices is attracting growing interest. Our work in this area has included the construction of a model transformer and synchronous generator operating at 77 K (liquid nitrogen), modelling superconducting tapes and fundamental experimental studies of high voltage cables where liquid nitrogen is used as both as the coolant and the electrical insulation. Current work is focussing on the design and construction of a new high temperature superconducting generator and a topic that impacts on all the above application areas, the development of dielectric systems that can operate successfully at the ambient/cryogenic interface.