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Department of Computer Science

Automatic Learning of Latent Force Models

Primary supervisor

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  • Competition Funded Project (UK Students Only)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is only available to UK citizens or those who have been resident in the UK for a period of 3 years or more. Some projects, which are funded by charities or by the universities themselves may have more stringent restrictions.

Project description

There has been an increasing interest in Machine Learning to introduce inductive bias in predictive models through Physics. Such inductive bias allows a significant reduction in the number of data observations needed for training the model plus allows to increase the generalisation ability of the model at extrapolation tasks.

In latent force models, in particular, we combine differential equations with Gaussian processes by building kernel functions that encode dynamical systems. We have found applications of latent force models in a range of domains that include neural engineering, robotics, computational biology and in monitoring air pollution.

Building covariance functions for latent force models is usually a tedious process that involves analytically solving different integration problems. In this project, we will look at recent ideas developed in the kernel literature that automatically build covariance functions and apply and extend those approaches to the domain of latent force models.

Person specification

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Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • This project requires mathematical engagement and ability substantially greater than for a typical Computer Science PhD. Give evidence for appropriate competence, as relevant to the project description.
  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will have good time management.
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?