PhD studentship on Declarative Programming for Data Science

Project: Declarative Programming for Data Science
Supervisor:James Cheney
Deadline: March 17, 2017 (for 2017/2018 academic year)

We seek strong candidates for a 4-year, joint Master's and PhD research studentship in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Science, on the topic of Declarative Programming for Data Science. The studentship will be supervised by Dr. James Cheney and is supported by a generous gift from LogicBlox, Inc., a leading provider of database solutions based on declarative foundations.

Project description

Today, many of the most popular frameworks for data science are based on ideas from functional programming (e.g. MapReduce) or logic programming (e.g. SQL and richer logic programming languages such as Datalog). Declarative programming techniques (drawing on functional and logic programming, database theory, and logic) offer tremendous potential to make large-scale data analytics easier and more accessible to a wide audience. The aim of this studentship is to explore foundations of declarative programming languages for the analysis of large amounts of data.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Design and implementation of declarative database languages
  • Bidirectional data transformations (view update/data synchronization)
  • Declarative techniques for machine learning
  • Provenance, audit, explanation of errors
  • Declarative Web and user interface programming

This studentship is supported by a generous gift from LogicBlox, Inc. and funding from the University of Edinburgh Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Science. The studentship can provide full funding for a student of any nationality.

For additional information about the project background, please consult recent publications on related topics:

LogicBlox welcomes collaboration driven by fundamental research interests of the academic partner, and we hope to recruit an exceptional student who aims to become a world-class researcher and leader in declarative programming for data science. The student supported by this studentship would also have the opportunity to visit LogicBlox (or other CDT industrial partners) as an intern to gain experience applying their system to practical problems.

LogicBlox's business is founded on applying declarative programming and database research to practical problems of large-scale data analysis in industry. Applying machine learning models to large datasets is a core application area for the LogicBlox system. LogicBlox collaborates with over 50 faculty members at over 25 leading universities, and is an industrial partner in the Data Science CDT.

Background required

The PhD student supported by this funding will carry out fundamental research on declarative programming for data science. We seek applicants with a strong background and research interests in declarative (functional or logic) programming, databases, or logic, and who have the drive and ambition to become a future leader in this exciting area. Applicants with a strong background in mainstream tools for data science and clear potential to learn other aspects of the research background will also be considered.

About the position

This PhD studentship provides a total of 4 years funding for full-time research (with no required teaching obligations), structured as a 1-year Master's by Research followed by 3 years of PhD research, hosted in the School's EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Science. Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss project topics with the supervisor before applying.

Application information

To apply to the CDT in Data Science, use the standard University of Edinburgh website to apply for the programme called "Informatics: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Science: MSc by Research Data Science - 1 Year (Full-time)". All CDT students should apply to this MSc programme as applications will automatically be considered for the full 1 year MSc by Research + 3 year PhD programme.

In your application, please:

  • list James Cheney in the "Proposed Supervisor" field;
  • list Declarative Programming for Data Science in the "Research Topic" field; and
  • the research proposal should address a topic relevant to the project you are applying for, it should not simply be a restatement of this advertisement.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact James Cheney to discuss the studentship before submitting an application.

The Team

These positions will be under the supervision of the Dr. James Cheney, whose group currently includes one postdoctoral researcher (Dr. Wilmer Ricciotti) and three PhD students, all working on topics involving provenance, programming languages, security, and databases. The current team is supported by funding from AFOSR, Microsoft Research, Google, and the European Union. The project will also benefit from strong collaborative links with other world-leading experts in LFCS, particularly in the Edinburgh Database Group and the Programming Languages and Foundations group.


The University of Edinburgh School of Informatics brings together world-class research groups in theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence and cognitive science. The School led the UK 2014 REF rankings in volume of internationally recognized or internationally excellent research. In 2013, the School of Informatics received an Athena Swan Silver Award, in recognition of its commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. Overall the University of Edinburgh has achieved a Silver Award.

The Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS) established by Burstall, Milner and Plotkin in 1986, is recognized worldwide for groundbreaking research on topics in programming languages, semantics, type theory, proof theory, algorithms and complexity, databases, security, and systems biology. Formal aspects of databases, XML and provenance (Libkin, Fan, Buneman), language-based security (Aspinall, Stark, Gordon), and Web programming languages (Wadler) are active areas of investigation in LFCS complementary to this project.

The Edinburgh Database Group is part of the Laboratory for the Foundations of Computer Science and includes six faculty members, five postdoctoral researchers, and six PhD students. Interests of the group span all aspects of database systems and theory. Topics of current interest include graph databases, XML, data integration, novel approaches to query processing and storage, data provenance, archiving and annotation. Many of these topics are relevant to scientific data management, an area in which Edinburgh has unique strengths.

Programming Languages and Foundations is one of the largest research activities in LFCS, including 15 academic staff, 8 postdoctoral researchers, and 10 current PhD students, working on functional programming, types, verification, semantics, software engineering, language-based security and new programming models. We participate in a thriving PL research community across Scotland, with Scottish Programming Languages Seminars hosted every 3-4 months by PL groups at Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt, St. Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh.

For more information about study in Edinburgh and the School of Informatics, see these pages:

Last modified: Tue Feb 21 13:59:00 GMT 2017