Understanding and Applications of Deep Learning

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science


Brief description of the context of the research, including potential impact:
The research will focus on understanding deep learning models and their applications. As deep learning is at the cornerstone of artificial intelligence, it is essential to improve our understanding of the inner dynamics of deep learning models. As such, I'm interested in developing more theoretically grounded models. This part of my research is motivated by previous work on adversarial examples, which highlighted how design choices (e.g., loss function) can unwittingly impact models (via, e.g., learnt features, robustness or uncertainty). I believe that understanding the inner workings of models is essential for responsibly integrating AI into society. Furthermore, as we deploy deep learning models in practice, we must ensure that algorithms are trustworthy and fair. As such, it's essential to explain why models make a particular decision. I would be interested in working on different facets of interpretability, from creating benchmarks to developing new methods or evaluation protocols. Lastly, there are several open problems for which we can use deep learning to drive positive impact. One crucial application which I would be keen to work on is healthcare.
Aims and Objectives:
-Further our understanding of the inner workings of deep learning models
- Investigate interpretability of deep learning models
- Tackle healthcare or other exigent problems using deep learning
Alignment to ESPRC and research areas: The topics broadly fall under Artificial Intelligence Technologies, Mathematical Analysis, Statistical and Applied Probability, Numerical Analysis,
Image and Vision Computing, and Medical Imaging.

Planned Impact

AIMS's impact will be felt across domains of acute need within the UK. We expect AIMS to benefit: UK economic performance, through start-up creation; existing UK firms, both through research and addressing skills needs; UK health, by contributing to cancer research, and quality of life, through the delivery of autonomous vehicles; UK public understanding of and policy related to the transformational societal change engendered by autonomous systems.

Autonomous systems are acknowledged by essentially all stakeholders as important to the future UK economy. PwC claim that there is a £232 billion opportunity offered by AI to the UK economy by 2030 (10% of GDP). AIMS has an excellent track record of leadership in spinout creation, and will continue to foster the commercial projects of its students, through the provision of training in IP, licensing and entrepreneurship. With the help of Oxford Science Innovation (investment fund) and Oxford University Innovation (technology transfer office), student projects will be evaluated for commercial potential.

AIMS will also concretely contribute to UK economic competitiveness by meeting the UK's needs for experts in autonomous systems. To meet this need, AIMS will train cohorts with advanced skills that span the breadth of AI, machine learning, robotics, verification and sensor systems. The relevance of the training to the needs of industry will be ensured by the industrial partnerships at the heart of AIMS. These partnerships will also ensure that AIMS will produce research that directly targets UK industrial needs. Our partners span a wide range of UK sectors, including energy, transport, infrastructure, factory automation, finance, health, space and other extreme environments.

The autonomous systems that AIMS will enable also offer the prospect of epochal change in the UK's quality of life and health. As put by former Digital Secretary Matt Hancock, "whether it's improving travel, making banking easier or helping people live longer, AI is already revolutionising our economy and our society." AIMS will help to realise this potential through its delivery of trained experts and targeted research. In particular, two of the four Grand Challenge missions in the UK Industrial Strategy highlight the positive societal impact underpinned by autonomous systems. The "Artificial Intelligence and data" challenge has as its mission to "Use data, Artificial Intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030". To this mission, AIMS will contribute the outputs of its research pillar on cancer research. The "Future of mobility" challenge highlights the importance the autonomous vehicles will have in making transport "safer, cleaner and better connected." To this challenge, AIMS offers the world-leading research of its robotic systems research pillar.

AIMS will further promote the positive realisation of autonomous technologies through direct influence on policy. The world-leading academics amongst AIMS's supervisory pool are well-connected to policy formation e.g. Prof Osborne serving as a Commissioner on the Independent Commission on the Future of Work. Further, Dr Dan Mawson, Head of the Economy Unit; Economy and Strategic Analysis Team at BEIS will serve as an advisor to AIMS, ensuring bidirectional influence between policy objectives and AIMS research and training.

Broad understanding of autonomous systems is crucial in making a society robust to the transformations they will engender. AIMS will foster such understanding through its provision of opportunities for AIMS students to directly engage with the public. Given the broad societal importance of getting autonomous systems right, AIMS will deliver core training on the ethical, governance, economic and societal implications of autonomous systems.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S024050/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2420473 Studentship EP/S024050/1 31/12/2020 29/09/2024 Lisa Schut