The Computing and Informatics Research Centre’s (CIRC) unifying and overarching research vision is ‘Enabling Digital Technology’ and is grounded in high-quality, interdisciplinary work with expertise in advanced computer science topics with links to partners from both academia and industry. The CIRC’s research is delivered by four groups:
- Interactive Systems (IS) – technologies for the cognitive and physical rehabilitation of users within the real world, and the promotion of their mental wellbeing.
- Computational Intelligence and Applications (CIA) – research on computationally intelligent methods and techniques to real-world applications targeting enhanced living and society.
- Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics (CNCR) – research into computational intelligence techniques that takes inspiration and learning from medicine and neuroscience.
- Network Infrastructures, Computing and Cyber Security (NICCS) – research into network technologies that underpin today's connected world with emphasis on middleware technologies, cloud-based systems, classical and quantum computing, and security and mobile systems.
The CIRC is harnessing Enabling Technologies, such as, machine learning, AI, advanced display technologies (including VR, AR, XR), intelligent sensors, IoT, and robotics to drive advances in health, education and wellbeing. Some notably CIRC advances made in the area of health, education and wellbeing extend to prediction and staging of cancers, physical rehabilitation, mental health, care of the elderly, education through personalised learning systems so that all learners are supported to reach their full potential, and intelligent transportation systems with positive environmental impacts. Our strategy is strongly user-focused, interdisciplinary, informs our future research intentions through the construction of high-spec computing research facilities, and coincides with three NTU strategic research themes.
The following staff are involved in the work of the Computing and Informatics Research Centre:
David Brown (Director of CIRC, Research Group Leader – Interactive Systems)
Ahmad Lotfi (HoD, Research Group Leader – Computational Intelligence and Applications)
Colin Willmott (B11 Leader)
Martin McGinnity (Research Group Leader – Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics)
Evtim Peytchev (Research Group Leader – Network Infrastructures and Cyber Security)
João Filipe Ferreira
Junpei Zhong (Joni)
Related Groups and Projects
Interactive Systems is dedicated to combining an unstinting commitment to user-centred approaches with the utility of enabling technologies to drive radical changes in health, education and mental wellbeing. IS research in virtual environments, augmented reality, affective computing, serious games, digital game making, robotics, computational intelligence, advanced sensors, and interaction are driving improvements in the performance and capabilities of users, especially those with learning disabilities and autism, those recovering from stroke, those who experience health inequalities due to their ethnicity, and those experiencing mental health and wellbeing issues – all of which is congruent to CIRC’s vision of ‘Enabling Digital Technology’.
IS’s vision is to view our research environment as not ending at the outer physical boundaries of our campuses, but as extending into the communities we work with and serve at local, national and international level. IS research focus is thus fivefold:
1) to combine our commitment to user centred approaches with the power of enabling technologies to drive improvements in the health, education and mental wellbeing of underserved communities;
2) to exploit our specialist infrastructure, facilities and investments in people to foster and sustain meaningful and effective collaboration with end user groups;
3) to prioritise the use of rigorous computer methods to analyse the impact of our interventions with underserved populations, and to use this knowledge to inform public policy;
4) to position end users from underserved populations not as participants but as co-researchers, and;
5) to extend the reach and effectiveness of our collaboration with end user groups, industry and academia.
Notable recent projects include:
- EU Erasmus+ Pathway+ A mobile pedagogical assistant to develop meaningful pathways to personalised learning
- EU Erasmus+ VESVET Validation of Entrepreneurship Skills through Interactive Learning Sets in VET
- EU Horizon 2020 MaTHiSiS: Managing Affective-learning THrough Intelligent atoms and Smart InteractionS
- EU Erasmus KA2 Real Life. Tackling recidivism in offenders using virtual environments
- EU Horizon 2020 No One Left Behind – Accessible Digital Game Making for learners at risk of exclusion
- EU Lifelong Learning EDUROB - Educational Robotics for People with Learning Disabilities
- EPSRC. Internet of Soft Things for improved perceptions of mental wellbeing
Network Infrastructures and Cyber Security
Network Infrastructures and Cyber Security (NICCS)'s strategic vision is to spearhead current networking technologies and infrastructures deployment through research in ad-hoc networks, peer-to-peer communications and advanced mobile networking. The application of the group’s research extends to traffic information systems for connected and autonomous vehicles, mobile networking for health applications, mobile security, secure network deployment for energy efficiency applications. Our strategy for impactful research firmly aligns us to CIRC’s over-arching vision of ‘Enabling Digital Technology’.
Specific research and impact aims are fourfold:
1) to combine sensor data and novel network infrastructures to achieve energy efficiency in dwellings across cities;
2) to use novel mobile technologies for increasing the effectiveness of mobile applications in health and wellbeing;
3) to use mobile networking approaches in connected and autonomous vehicles domains, and;
4) to use our expertise to inform and influence industry through our novel teaching and learning materials recognised and approved by industry and Transport Systems Catapult.
Notable recent projects include:
- BBSRC IoT Cow lameness monitoring through sensor networks
- EU Horizon 2020 Modum: Addresses the environmental footprint in the transport sector by developing a new approach for pro-active demand-responsive management of traffic
Computational Intelligence and Applications
Computational Intelligence and Applications (CIA)’s strategic vision is to apply the state-of-the-art computationally intelligent tools and techniques to solve issues related to health, wellbeing and energy. We know the increasing burden of elderly care may put at risk the sustainability of health and care systems in the UK, and to combat this and improve the solutions for independent living, it is essential to incorporate technical solutions into existing homes. Our expertise in smart environments, ambient assistive technologies, pervasive computing, location aware systems, intelligent modelling, control and robotics means we are best placed to achieve this. This is encompassed in CIA’s five-pronged strategy ensuring our research focus is aligned to CIRC’s vision of ‘Enabling Digital Technology’.
CIA champions independent living by means of computationally intelligent techniques. By independent living we mean user-centric and community-centric solutions to independent living, and by intelligent techniques we mean our five-pronged strategic approach to research:
1) use of robotic systems to enhance socially assistive platforms of independent living;
2) incorporation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to improve existing ICT systems for more reliable and acceptable remote monitoring;
3) analysis of data collected from sensor networks to improve home energy efficiency;
4) adoption of support platforms in smart homes and intelligent environments (such as, smart campus and smart city) by providing our expertise related to sensor networks and intelligent data analytics, and;
5) support provision to industry seeking to incorporate computational intelligent techniques in their existing service solutions.
Notable recent projects include:
- The Royal Society Community-centric system for elderly care and information support
- Innovate UK TekChef
- Innovate UK and EPSRC iCarer – Aging Well in the Digital World
Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics
Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics (CNCR) is dedicated to research into computational intelligence, bioinspired learning and reasoning, working at the interfaces of computing, robotics, bioscience and neuroscience. Group strengths arise from its expertise in computational intelligence, AI and machine learning, and the fact that it exploits both software modelling and hardware emulations in its work. CNCR collaborations in neuroscience and robotic systems research, grounded on a firm foundation of neural modelling, positions it very appropriately for national and international funding and a key contributor to the overarching ‘Enabling Digital Technology’ research theme.
CNCR places strong emphasis on modelling that incorporates large data volumes and also encompasses the development of learning algorithms for big data, data analytics and deep learning. Emphasis on modelling extends also to biological sensory systems in our research, particularly visual, tactile and auditory sensory modalities and the implementation of biological learning in both hardware (in particular, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) where CNCR has one of the largest FPGA HPC systems in the UK) and in software. Indeed, CNCR’s strengths in modelling have and continues to inform the group’s strategic vision.
Notable recent projects include:
EU FP7 Si–Elegans will provide the scientific community with a reconfigurable, scalable and modular neuromimetic open-access computational platform to explore neural principles that give rise to complex behaviour and to derive a neuro-inspired technological blueprint for a new era of brain-like computational architectures.
We maximise the impact of our research through new major interdisciplinary research facilities spearheaded by the Computing and Informatics Research Centre (CIRC) – a research facility that achieved 80% world-leading or internationally excellent research impact (REF 2014) and houses the Unit’s four specialist research groups. CIRC has been supported by investment in the £8M Mary Ann Evans building with a variety of electronic and communication laboratories. We also enjoy access to a range of other facilities including:
- Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Centre (ISTeC) – a £13M computational research facility for project-based work and its application to the real-world.
- Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF) – a £22M medical research, computing-orientated facility aimed at improving patient care via research collaborations to develop products and materials.
- Institute of Industrial Digitalisation (IDI) – a £23M research facility focusing on opportunities and challenges connected to Industry 4.0: digitalisation, robotics, Internet of Things, and smart future factories.
- Smart house – a facility which takes the form of a typical home and instrumented with a wide-ranging collection of sensors to detect and detail all possible movements.
We’re offering fully-funded PhD studentships aligned with our research centres for UK, EU or International students. Find out more about our PhD studentships