Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chair of Foundations of Data Management

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Leonid Libkin to the newly-established Chair of Foundations of Data Management at Edinburgh, and congratulate him on a Marie-Curie Chair award from the EU.

Leonid Libkin received his BSc (1986) and MSc (1988) in Moscow, Russia. While there, he worked primarily in lattice theory and universal algebra. He also became interested in database theory. He moved to the U.S.A. to pursue a PhD (1994) in Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania, supported by an AT&T PhD Fellowship. He worked on query languages for collection types and incomplete information in databases.

Libkin then joined the Computing Sciences Research Center of Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill. Since that time, his primary research interests have been in the areas of databases and applications of logic in computer science.

While at Bell Labs, his solution to one of the most challenging open problems in database theory (Kanellakis' conjecture) led to a series of papers that developed the theory of constraint databases. He also found a unified framework for treating locality of logics, and applied it to studying real-life query languages such as SQL. Among his other projects at Bell Labs were transaction safety, and view and integrity maintenance in databases.

In 2000, Libkin joined the University of Toronto, where he started working on various aspects of XML, and on connections between logic and automata. He produced papers on XML constraints, design of XML schemas, and automatic structures.

Professor Libkin has written/edited 4 books, 10 book chapters, and over 100 papers published in top computer science journals and conference proceedings. He also has three patents.

Professor Libkin will take up his Chair in July 2006. Within the School of Informatics, he will join the Database group in the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Vacancy: Marie Curie Fellowship - Speech Science and Technology

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Computational Thinking

Language and Computation: The State of the Art

Mark Steedman and Matthew Stone

16:00 Wednesday 14th December
Appleton Tower, Level 3

Abstract: Linguistics has been a computational science for almost fifty years, since Chomsky first used formal language theory to characterize structure and complexity in natural language. Yet researchers continue to appeal to new kinds of computational thinking as they frame problems and results in the science of language. This talk focuses on two case studies of particular recent interest, whose common goal is to explain language in its broader evolutionary and biological context.
The first case study concerns an account for the structure of language. Here computational approaches to agency---which showcase close parallels between language use in dialogue and other kinds of collaborative real-world activity---promise to link the grammatical representations implicated in language use to the the more general symmetric representations of ones' own and others' real-world actions that are the hallmark of primate social cognition.
The second case study concerns an account of language processing. Here computational frameworks for approximate probabilistic inference---informed by striking correlations between the time-course of linguistic processing and the dynamics of uncertainty in the evidence available to the processor---suggest how the mechanisms of language use could simultaneously arise from more general neural or cognitive mechanisms.

Following the talk, there will be an informal reception of wine and nibbles to promote discusion and interaction.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Julius Popp: Machines with body consciousness

The second public Conversation to be held under the aegis of Future Academy/Studiolab will be Julius Popp
Machines with body consciousness
St Cecilia's Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh
7.30pm, Monday 5th December 2005

The talk spans a broad range of Julius Popp's work. His work at the interface between art and science includes Micro.spheres, Bitfall, Bitflow, Macro.perpendiculars and Micro.race. With the focus on the nature of intelligent beings, and introducing six specific works, the artist will explain the ideas and motivations that underlie these autonomous intelligent systems. He will highlight the relevance of the works for both art and science.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ceilidh Photos

Many thanks to all who came, to Hugh MacDairmid's Haircut for getting us dancing, and to Diana and George for all their work to make this such an enjoyable evening.
See my flickr pages for photos taken at the Ceilidh - leave a comment if you want to suggest titles or descriptions where these are lacking, or want a photo removed :-)
There is also a video of the Gay Gordons for your delight and amusement.
Comments welcome!

Friday, December 02, 2005

General Meeting, Reception and Ceilidh

A series of events in Appleton Tower, culminating in our annual Informatics Ceilidh - for staff, graduate students and friends of Informatics, and their children and partners.
16:00 General Meeting for Informatics Staff and Students, Lecture Theatre 4
Working Practices
RAE 2005
Filling the Forum
17:00 Presentation from Balfour Beatty
Mike Izzi, Project Director
17:30 Reception AT Concourse
19:00 Ceilidh
Cash Bar
Hot Buffet at 21:00
Please let Diana know if you will be bringing children so she can tell Santa how many sweets to leave under the tree — unfortunately, Santa won't be there in person as he is working on imminent deadlines.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Olga Franks is retiring this Christmas

Olga Franks has decided to take early retirement and will be finishing her employment with us at Christmas.

Olga has over 20 years of working in DAI and AIAI, then Informatics. She first worked at Forrest Hill, I understand, but I know her from the many years she spent at 80 South Bridge building up and maintaining the AI Library, amalgamating the books from Hope Park Square and Forrest Hill in the process. This was a major resource of DAI and became world renowned, often being cited as one of the reasons students wished to study there. The South Bridge fire was a huge shock to a number of us but especially to Olga who suffered more than most in that she saw many years of hard work go up in flames. She played a significant part in the publicity and appeals on behalf of the School in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

If you wish to contribute towards a retiral collection, Lena McDougal (Room 4.02, AT) will be collecting for Olga from today onwards. Collections will also be made at JCMB, BP and FH and consolidated here. A card is available for signature in Lena's office.

An informal retiral presentation will take place on Wednesday 14th December at 11.30am in the 4th floor open area at Appleton Tower.