Advanced Interaction Group
The Advanced Interaction Group currently has vacancies for graduate research students in the
areas identified below. Interested persons should contact either
Dr. Russell Beale (
email | homepage) or
Bob Hendley (email |
homepage) for informal discussions.
forms are now available.
A limited number of studentships are available for suitable applicants. It is
usual for there to be more applicants than studentships, and applicants requiring
funding are encouraged to apply early.
Agents and Agent-based Systems
Agents are semi-autonomous, reactive software components that can be combined to create
complex interacting systems of great power and functionality. Work on a software architecture
to integrate agents and applications is almost complete, leading to the next phase of research.
This will be to build and test interactive systems based on agents, as well as developing and
refining the architecture.
Neural networks, AI techniques, machine learning, evolutionary programming (genetic algorithms,
genetic programming) all offer basic learning and adaptive capabilities. The project aim is to
package up these techniques inside agents, giving them the ability to adapt and improve basic
skills through experiential learning, hence developing more refined and powerful skillsets in
response to user-driven needs. The work will involve implementing and evaluating different
techniques as well as building up a library of adaptable, intelligent agents.
Complex software systems are extraordinarily difficult to understand and to manipulate. This
work extends earlier work on visual programming systems to support visualisation of program
structures using self organising systems and virtual reality techniques.
Object visualisation is enabled by building a virtual world through which the user can
navigate to explore and manipulate the object space.
The view of the objects adapts so that they may be seen as distinct objects,
agglomerations (eg. a cluster of objects may appear as a
translucent mass with the individual objects barely visible) or as iconic representations.
The organisation of the objects in space is controlled by forces between the objects
(determined by the relationships between these objects).
The emergent structure that appears can be startling and can give considerable insight
into the system's organisation.
The student will be expected to expand upon these existing ideas and may involve the
development of a more complete programming environment. Other
aspects of the behaviour of systems will also be included, for instance, the
incorporation of animation to show the dynamic behaviour of systems.
Data mining (also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases - KDD) has been defined as "The
nontrivial extraction of implicit,
previously unknown, and potentially useful information from data". It uses machine learning,
statistical and visualization
techniques to discovery and present knowledge in a form which is easily comprehensible to
The work currently in progress utilises genetic algorithm-based refinement of rules, coupled
with a visualisation system, where a symbiotic relationship utilising the computational power of
machine learning and evolutionary approaches is enhanced by the cognitive abilities of users to
recognise patterns of interest in a visual presentation of information. Research is needed to
extend, develop and refine some of these early ideas.
There are other areas of research that are of interest to the AIG (detailed on home pages);
these include Evolutionary and Emergent Computation, HCI, CSCW, Neural networks, Information
networks and Intelligent Tutoring Systems. People wishing to pursue research in any of these
areas at Birmingham are encouraged to discuss the matter informally first.
The AIG is able to offer an excellent environment to people wishing to undertake research.
Comprehensive computing resources (Suns, HPs, Dec Alpha's, SGI, and PCs) are available,
utilising the School's general research machines as well as those specifically for the AIG.
The AIG runs an active group programme, and graduates are also encouraged to take advantage of
the School's seminar series which provides a broader view of computer science.
Active participation in conferences, both within the UK and worldwide, is encouraged. Research
work is coupled with a successful monitoring and education programme to ensure the continued
personal development of researchers. Opportunities to teach, undertake consultancy and liase
with government, industry and commerce are also available.
For additional research-related information:
Russell Beale or Bob Hendley
Advanced Interaction Group
Tel: +44 - (0) 121 - 414 3729
For application forms and other postgraduate study information:
Dr. Peter Hancox
Research Students Admissions Tutor
Tel: +44 - (0) 121 - 414 - 4782
School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT UK.
Fax: +44 - (0) 121 - 414 - 4281
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