Research Interests

Intelligent Inhabited Environments (IIE)
(Pervasive Computing)

Intelligent Inhabited Environments Group
In 1994, we proposed and founded the Essex-Robots group and constructed the Brooker lab for intelligent embedded systems. The robotics group has now grown to the largest and most successful in the country.
In 1998, we identified an opportunity to apply the agent mechanisms we had developed for robotics to the rapidly developing field of Pervasive Computing and Ambient Intelligence. Thus, the Intelligent Inhabited Environments (IIE) group was formed.
The group: 3 academics, Victor Callaghan, Martin Colley and Hani Hagras, 1 computer officer (Dr. Graham Clarke), 6 Research Officers and 10 PhD students

Research Activities
Embedded Agents
Fuzzy, Neural, genetic approaches
Distributed agent architectures
Nano electronics
Novel sensors / effectors
Networking & middleware
Ambient Intelligence
Pervasive Computing / Ubiquitous Computing
Intelligent Buildings
Robotics and Intelligent Machines
Architectures and social psychology

Complementary Research

Current funded projects
(January 2001- January 2004) "eGadgets", Project No IST200-25240. Funded by the EU Disappearing Computer programme. The total funding of this project is 1.2 million Euros shared between 3 partners; CTI Greece, NMRC Ireland and ourselves. Our share is £237,000.
(January 2003-January 2006) "Self-Organised Societies of Connectionist Intelligent Agents capable of Learning " , PROJECT No IST-2001-38911. Funded by the EU Future and Emerging Technology programme. The total funding of this project is 1.8 million Euros shared between 4 partners; University of Patras Medical school Greece, CTI Greece, NMRC Ireland and ourselves. Our share is £292,863.
Pervasive Home Environment Networking”. Started on 1st Oct 2003, for 2 years, funded by DTI New Wave Technologies. Based in iDorm. Total value of the project is £519,388 with BT Exact, and Loughborough University. Our share is £90,000

Current Industrial Funded Projects
(October 2002- October 2005) "An Intelligent Embedded Agent for Fault Diagnosis and EFI Control of Diesel Engines" . This project is funded by MAN B&W. The total funding is £42,000.

Previously Funded Research Projects
(February 2001- May 2003) "A soft-computing based, multi-agent architecture with applications to intelligent building sensing and control". Funded by the Korea-UK Science and Technology Collaboration Fund. The total funding for the project is £30,000 shared equally between 2 partners;
“Previously we had a major EPSRC funded project for technologies for underwater vehicles with other UK Universities and companies, the project was entitled “TUUV - Core Simulation Engine”, Our share was £110,000

Projects under Review and in preparation
“ Ambielife” Funded by the EU With 15 EU Universities and companies , total applied for is 5 Million Euros over 5 year, the Essex share is £ 400,000
“ Developing Intelligent Autonomous Vehicles” Funded by the Ministry of Defence With 15 major UK Universities and defence companies. Total applied for is 3 Million pounds, our share is £ 300,000
“ An Intelligent Simulator for Cement Kilns” Funded by ASEC for Research and Technology our share is £ 25,000.

Research Facilities
The Brooker Laboratory for Intelligent Embedded Systems

Future developments 1
iFlat – Plan to develop a high quality international centre for the development and testing of pervasive computing and ambient intelligence.

Publications and International Esteem
More than 60 Joint Publications in International Journals, Conferences and books
Editing Special issues in top International Journals
Invited talks and Seminars
Membership of many prestigious International Conferences
Referees in top International Journals
Reviews for overseas Agencies
Talks at overseas institutions

Essex Robotics

Robotics - who we are
Huosheng Hu
Dongbing Gu
Owen Holland
Ulrich Nehmzow
Libor Spacek
John Gan
…plus 25 PhD students and 5 RAs

Field and Service Robotics
Hu, Gu, Gan, Spacek
Industrial Funding £115,000 + £92,400 CASE
EPSRC Funding £211,545
Royal Society etc. £7,825
Total £426,000
Pending: EPSRC China -Link Network
EU CogWare NoE

Intelligent Autonomous Systems
and Cognitive Robotics
EPSRC £193,772
Royal Society £3,000
Conference Chair for the UK’s only robotics
conference (the IEE sponsored TAROS’04 -
Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems) to be
held at Essex August 2004

Machine consciousness and swarm intelligence
EPSRC £314,781
Swarm Intelligence Research Cluster
Foresight Cognitive Systems
The Flying Gridswarm (with ESE at Essex)
EU network on Machine Consciousness

Industry: London Aquarium, Guidance
Control Systems, Variant Technologies,
BNFL, Port of Tilbury
Academic Partners: Bristol, Sheffield,
Sheffield Hallam, Bath, Manchester
Cross disciplinary: Psychology, Education,
Medicine, Electronics, Control Engineering,
Aeronautical Engineering
Total funding since Jan 2001: £934,553

The Future
July 2004: New state of the art laboratories:
Large robot arena
Double height for flying robots
Roof access for flying robots
Martian landscape facility
We aim to become and remain the number one mobile robotics group in the UK

Constraint Satisfaction & Optimisation
Computational Finance

Constraints & Optimisation
URL: followed by /NA /CSP /Finance

Finding optimal solutions
Guided Local Search
Multi-step Quasi-Newton Methods
Estimation of Distribution Algorithms (EDA)
Population-Based Incremental Learning

Constraint Satisfaction
Limited-choices Decision Problem
Computer-aided Constraint Programming
Search Techniques
Adaptive Constraint Satisfaction
Guided Local Search, Evolutionary computation
Selected Applications
Timetabling, Radio Length Frequency Assignment, Vehicle routing
Dynamic & distributed scheduling

Computational Finance
Affiliated to Institute to Studies in Finance
Economics, AFM, Maths
~12 PhD students
EDDIE (Genetic Programming based)
Automated Bargaining
Trading agents
Multi-attribute negotiation protocols

Natural Language Engineering
Web Applications

Natural Language Engineering & Web Applications: at-a-glance
Members of group:
7 staff (Fasli, Fox, Kruschwitz, Poesio, Reynolds, Robinson, Steel)
6 PhD (Alexandrov-Kabadjov, al-Haddad, Almuhareb, Goweder, Jafri, Sanchez-Graillet)
1 RA (al-Bakour)
Main areas of research:
Machine learning applied to NL: Acquiring commonsense knowledge from text, segmentation, summarization, text classification, machine translation
Empirical models of semantic interpretation, e.g., anaphora
Dialogue & Speech
Formal semantics & formal models of agents’ info states
IR and Web Search

Highlight I: Acquisition of lexical & ontological knowledge. Application I: Anaphora

Application II: Intelligent Search

Highlight II: The semantics & interpretation of abstract objects
Formal semantics interest: modeling abstract objects requires logical formalisms capable of fine-grained intensionality (e.g., property theory)
Joint project with King’s College, London (Fox, Lapping)
Computational psycholinguistics interest: references to abstract  objects are often underspecified
Joint project with Glasgow (Poesio, Sanford, Sturt)

Highlight III: Dialogue & Speech
Formal models of information states for dialogue: Fasli, Poesio
TRINDI (EU-funded)
Dialogue-based systems: Kruschwitz, Poesio
The Trindikit
Speech Recognition: Reynolds
Speech Recognition in Arabic: Jafri
Potential area of collaboration with Robotics

Machine Learning
Intelligent Agents

Cerebral Palsy patients
Using machine learning to predict surgery outcomes
Adaptive Brain-Computer Interfaces
Mining EEGs for hands-free control of computer interfaces
Gan, Lakany, Poli, Sepulveda

Ab initio protein folding
Abstract automata which have power to fold themselves from any starting position
Filtering results of virtual docking
Using machine learning techniques to identify valid protein bindings

Computer controlled car racing
Robust reading
Lucas, Reynolds
Visual tracking for robot control

Other Learning Projects
Evolving finite state machines
Lucas, Reynolds
High performance sequence recognition
Mining the web for software components
Interpretable models for financial data

Agents 1
Cooperative and competitive agents
Trading agents
Negotiation and protocols
Coalition formation

Agents 2
Agents’ self-models
Learning about and from other agents
Fasli, Scott
Teleological reasoning in plans

Human-Computer Interfaces

Human-Computer Interfaces

Human-Computer Interfaces

Human-Computer Interfaces

Human-Computer Interfaces

Natural and Evolutionary Computation (NEC)

Natural and Evolutionary Computation (NEC)
Natural Computation is the study of computational systems that use ideas and get inspirations from natural systems, including biological, ecological and physical systems
Evolutionary Computation draws inspiration from genetics and natural selection to solve engineering problems requiring optimisation, search and machine learning

Group Members:
Academic Staff in Computer Science: Poli, Tsang, Lucas, Zhang, Gan, Hagras,  Hu, Scott, Reynolds, Lakany, Holland
Affiliate Members:
Academic Staff in Electrical Engineering: Clark
Academic Staff in Accounting, Finance and Management: Abdel-Kader, Haven
Academic Staff in Mathematics: Salhi
Academic Staff in Economics: Markose

Areas of Expertise
Genetic algorithms and Genetic Programming: theory and applications
Estimation of Distribution Algorithms theory and implementation
Neural networks
Fuzzy systems
Ant systems/swarm intelligence
Quantum computing

International Conference Organisation:
GECCO 2002, CEC 2002, WCCI 2002, FOGA 2002, GECCO 2003, EuroGP 2003, CEC 2003, ICDRP 2003, IFSWC 2003, GECCO 2004 (general chair), IDEAL 2005.
International Programme Committee Membership:  CEC 2002, PPSN 2002, EuroGP 2002, GECCO 2002, EuroGP 2002, FOGA 2002, AICS 2002, ICARCV 2002, ICRAC 2002, ISORA 2002,  CS&I 2002, IASTED 2002, EuroGP 2003, EvoIASP 2003, GECCO 2003, MISTA 2003, ICDAR 2003, IJCNN 2003, IASTED 2003, RoboCup 2003.

Grand challenge 7 (non-classical computation) participation
Membership EPSRC cluster on Swarm Intelligence
Co-proposer EU Emergent Computing Institute (ECI)

University of Montana, University of Birmingham, UNAM (Mexico), Stanford University, University of Nottingham, Los Alamos National Lab, University of Minnesota, University of Parma, University College London, UWE, Dortmund University, Centre for the applications of nuclear energy in Brazil

Dependable Systems

Dependable Systems Group
Research centres on Computer Science Grand Challenge 6 – “Dependable Systems Evolution”
Members: Prof Ray Turner; Prof Martin Henson; Dr Norbert Völker; Dr Amon Eden, Dr Chris Fox

Foundations of Specification
Long track record in foundations: EPSRC funded “Constructive Z” and “Program Development in CST” projects.
New “Unified theory” approach – new projects with RefineNet and FMnet partners.

Specification Logics and Refinement
Essex – the home of Z logic
PC Chair for ZB conference in 2002 and 2005
Hosting Refinement Workshop in 2004
Collaborators in ESPRC Network – RefineNet 04-07
Links in Europe and NZ

FM for System Architecture and Design
Formal Methods for object-oriented design
Specification of Design Patterns
“LePUS” – visual formalism for Object-Oriented Architecture
“Two-tier” programming

Program Analysis
Conditioned Program Slicing – testing, reuse, reverse- and re-engineering.
Business Process Modelling – process algebra.
Funded by EU FP5 INSPIRE project; EPSRC GUSTT & TeTra projects; DaimlerChrysler.

Tools and Interoperability
Co-investigators in EU FP6 Coordination Action proposal – “FMnet”
DTI/EPSRC TCS/KTP E-business toolkit for UK SMEs

Formal Methods for Embedded Systems
Applications which depend on embedded systems
technology and particular domain knowledge present a new challenge for Formal Methods.
Particular problem areas include:
Formal Methods for Embedded Devices
Sensor Network analysis
Embedded Security
Networked Appliances
Embedded Operating Systems