Manchester Centre for Doctoral Training in Computer Science

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Computer Science


We propose a new model of PhD training which preserves the deep technical research study associated with the UK PhD, while augmenting this with training and practical experience in creativity and innovation, scientific evaluation, and experiences working with and communicating with users from outside academia. We will train the students to think about research impacts from the start of their research. We will give them experiences working in groups with non-academic users to solve real problems, experiences communicating outside their specific research discipline. We will give them opportunities to work in other academic and non-academic research labs. Our goal is to produce PhD graduates who are, on the one hand, skilled experts in their research area and, on the other hand, effective cross-disciplinary communicators and impact-aware, creative innovators.We want to lead in the transformation of the UK computer science PhD, and so will make this our primary PhD. To show our commitment, we will provide an additional 10 studentships per year. We will be able to sustain this model after the grant has finished, because some of the funds will be invested in course and recruitment material development, and staff training.We will use two integrative themes to unify the students and focus them on the challenges facing the next generation of researchers in computer science rather than particular methods associated with a particular research community. These two themes represent broad areas which cut across computer science, and are:Engineering for large and complex data - how to deal with the increasing explosion of data and build models of complex systems. How to use these to extract knowledge, fuse with existing knowledge, and make predictions.Engineering for new technologies - how to optimise the effective and energy-efficient use of multicore processors and interconnected embedded smart devices; explore new uses for smart personalised devices, dealing with security issues and other risks.University of Manchester is an ideal place to run the CDT in Computer Science because:1) Manchester has the UK's broadest computer science research portfolio, from electronic data storage, massively-parallel neural microchip engineering and multicore software through to world-beating theorem provers, machine intelligence, semantic technologies, text-mining and e-Science.2) Manchester has the highest concentration of CS RCUK funding anywhere in the UK.3) Manchester has the longest history in the UK of working with industry, including prototyping world-leading machines for Ferranti and ICL to today's wide portfolio of non-academic collaborators. 4) A strong commitment to this transformation, as evidenced by the large amount of resources we will contribute.

Planned Impact

The impact of this CDT comes from three sources. First, impact is integral to the training from year 1. We believe that it is an essential part of the training of a researcher to think through the potential impact, importance and value of a proposed piece of research and how that impact will come about. Thus, we will instill a culture of impact awareness, and have proposed several training activities to support this. Second, the PhD research itself in a range of ways. School of Computer Science has a very diverse research portfolio, and the routes to impact are also diverse, but we have an excellent track record in producing high quality research and our research students have contributed to that through: high quality publications, software which has been widely used, developing research in collaboration with non-academic partners which has directly impacted their activities and participating in the creation of spin-out companies. The PhD training programme of the CDT will only make it more possible for these activities to happen, because the students have more time and much wider and deeper training. Third, the impact of this CDT comes from researchers we graduate. They will join the scientific community or the non-academic research community with a much different training and wider skill set than the traditional UK PhD graduate. They will be better prepared to make early impacts in research. In terms of the specific fields in which the impacts will hit, it will be wide-reaching. Computer science reaches increasingly wide range of sciences and industries, and Manchester Computer Science has a very strong interdisciplinary-research history. A conservative estimate can gleaned from the support letters we have received from: medicine and health, pharmaceutical, computer software, computer hardware, publishing, energy distribution and commerce.


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