Fully-funded EPSRC PhD Studentship / Scholarship at the University of Birmingham, UK

Title: Study of fitness landscapes arising from software engineering problems


As modern software systems grow larger and more complex, there is an increasing need to support the software engineer with better techniques. Recent research in the field of search based software engineering (SBSE) has demonstrated that a wide range of problems in software engineering that traditionally have been solved manually, can be reformulated as optimisation problems. Such a reformulation opens up the possibility of applying meta-heuristic search algorithms to automatically find good solutions to the original software engineering problem. This approach has been taken on SE problems from different stages in the software development cycle, including planning, design, testing and maintenance.

The existing methodology in SBSE is predominately experimental. Such results often give inconclusive answers to fundamental questions in SBSE, e.g., which algorithm should be applied to a particular problem, and how to construct algorithms that are more suited to a particular problem? We need more in-depth studies into the characteristics of SE problems and appropriate algorithms to solve them.

The Candidate

In this project, the successful applicant will study and characterise fitness landscapes arising from SE problems, e.g., through statistical and visualisation techniques. In doing so, the applicant will draw upon and extend advanced landscape characterisation methodology from diverse fields, including evolutionary computation, biology, chemistry and physics. This research will complement ongoing theoretical research in the group on the runtime analysis of evolutionary algorithms on SE problems.

The successful applicant must have at least a 2.1 or above degree in computer science or a closely related field. We do consider outstanding applicants from mathematics, physics and engineering as long as they have sufficient computer science background. A good knowledge of optimisation is required, especially a good understanding and practical experience with modern meta-heuristics, including evolutionary algorithms, estimation of distribution algorithms, simulated annealing and others. The successful applicant must have excellent programming skills and knowledge of software engineering. S/he must be an excellent team player who can work independently and communicate well with others.

The Studentship / Scholarship

Duration: Up to three years (subject to satisfactory progress).

Payments: Living expenses: up to GBP12,500 per year tax-free; plus tuition fee fully paid.

Eligibility: Open to European Union/United Kingdom applicants only.

Deadline: Until the post is filled.

How to Apply

For more information on the PhD programme at Birmingham: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate-research/

Please apply according to the instructions given in the above website, NOT to the person below.

For technical enquiries only: Prof. Xin Yao (x.yao@cs.bham.ac.uk)