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Department of Computer Science

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Information management

The Information Management Group (IMG) conducts research into the design, development and use of data and knowledge management systems. Research activities are broad in nature and scope, including basic research on models and languages that underpins research on algorithms, technologies and architectures. Challenging applications motivate and validate our research, in particular in the Semantic Web and e-Science.

Our research includes work in the following specialist areas:

Data discovery and exploration

Data scientists are employed to obtain insights from data through analysis. However, it is widely reported that data scientists are spending as much as 80% of their time discovering, integrating and cleaning data prior to analysis; these tasks are known as data preparation or data wrangling. To increase the cost-effectiveness of data preparation, we investigate techniques for hands-off data preparation, where the user describes what is needed, and the system works out how to wrangle this from available datasets. There is also a growing interest in data catalogs, which capture information on the available data, and again we are looking to provide hands-off techniques for populating rich data catalogs. Such research brings together data integration, data cleaning, decision support, program synthesis and data discovery. Research in data preparation has been funded by the EPSRC, and we have worked with commercial partners in Rolls-Royce and Peak.

Network and distributed system security

We are interested in designing smart security solutions for smart systems. We have been working on cryptographic methods, security protocols and system architectures to protect networks, devices, and data from security attacks or unauthorized access in networked and distributed systems. The settings for our work include wireless sensor networks, mobile ad hoc networks, ubiquitous computing, electronic commerce, Internet of Things (IoT), and Cloud computing, with a focus on threat identification, risk assessment and countermeasure designs. Example projects include secure routing protocols for ad hoc networks, malware detections and preventions, cryptographic methods for protecting Big Data, security protocols for privacy-preserving data collections, risk-based authentication, dynamic access control, and trust management.

eScience Lab

The eScience Lab is led by Carole Goble and Stian Soiland-Reyes. It's affiliated with the wider Information Management Group.

We are focused on the research and development of products and practices designed for data driven and computational research. The eScience tools and techniques support the coming together of people, data and methods, the sharing of the research objects of science and the automation of analysis and data pipelines using computational workflows.

Our work can be called "Translational Computer Science" as we innovate solutions using state of the art knowledge approaches but also produce and run production services and resources for Digital Research Infrastructures, particularly those in the Biomedical Sciences and Biodiversity. Our tools and techniques have been adopted by a large number of projects and institutions across Europe and internationally, as well as national organisations. We have a prominent role in ELIXIR Europe, the European Research Infrastructure for Life Science Data, The FAIR Digital Object Forum, the European OPen Science Cloud, and Health Data Research UK.

Of particular focus in our work is to support practices and methodologies for researchers to follow the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), of which we are authors, not just for publishing research data with rich metadata, but for ensuring computational methods can also be shared in a fully described and reproducible manner.

The research by the eScience Lab spans a wide array of topics, including Open Research, computational workflows, scholarly communication, reproducible science, linked data, provenance, knowledge representation and community building. Lab members are leaders in international standards setting and community groups working on digital research infrastructure for science.