3-year postdoctoral researcher post available

As part of the Science of Sensor Systems Software programme we have a 3-year postdoc post available.

The S4 programme aims to develop a unifying science, across the breadth of mathematics, computer science and engineering, that will let developers engineer for the uncertainty and ensure that their systems and the information they provide is resilient, responsive, reliable, statistically sound and robust. The vision is smarter sensor based systems in which scientists and policy makers can ask deeper questions and be confident in obtaining reliable answers, so the programme will deliver new principles and techniques for the development and deployment of verifiable, reliable, autonomous sensor systems that operate in uncertain, multiple and multi-scale environments.

S4 is funded by EPSRC as a five-year, £5.2M Programme Grant. It brings together four of the UK’s leading research teams in sensor systems, their design, analysis, deployment, and evaluation. Led overall by Prof Muffy Calder at the University of Glasgow, the other academic collaborators are the University of St Andrews (Prof Simon Dobson), the University of Liverpool (Prof Michael Fisher), and Imperial College (Prof Julie McCann). S4 also includes a portfolio of industrial partners ranging from start-up SMEs to multinational companies and State agencies.

St Andrews leads the work on adaptive systems engineering, especially on how systems need to change as time progresses, the system components fail, and goals change. We are looking for someone to join us to work on how to program adaptive sensor systems. A strong track record in sensor systems, programming languages, data analytics, or another related area is essential, as is an ability to work within a larger team using formal methods, advanced statistics, and novel programming languages and approaches

You can find full application details here.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Oliver Sacks

1985


An enjoyable and fascinating collection of grotesqueries, somewhat marred by the self-consciousness of some of the language. There are some wonderful anecdotes and a lot of kind insight into the human condition, especially as experienced by those with unusual neurological function, whether "natural" or caused by brain damage. But some of the language used is simply annoying ("egurgitations"? "vociferating"? – really?), and Sacks falls into something a trap in not being able to decide whether to use – or not use – the medical terminology, with the result that one neither sees enough to make it familiar nor avoids enough to hear about the conditions in commonplace terms.

Finished on Tue, 02 May 2017 00:00:00 -0700.   Rating 3/5.

Wavewatcher's Companion

Gavin Pretor-Pinney

2010


I wanted to like this book, but it's actually a bit disappointing. I think perhaps that's because it tries too hard. There's a lot of fascinating information about waves in here, and an accessible overview of the physics of the various phenomena. But there's also a lot of stretching to make things waves that really aren't, and certainly aren't in the same category of being watched as ocean waves. A more focused book might have achieved the author's aims more effectively.

Finished on Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:25:54 -0700.   Rating 2/5.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness

Neil Postman

1985


If ever a book was timely, this is it. Despite being thirty years old, Postman has nailed both the politics of the modern age and the dangers of "big data".

The current buzz around "Amusing ourselves to death" comes form the recent US election, which seems to have degenerated into a media-driven circus that turned its back on "real" politics. Postman's diagnosis of this – from decades ago, of course – is that attention spans have been systematically destroyed by television which, as the dominant medium of the time, forces all other discourse into its own form. He is icily dismissive of television debates or of any attempts to use it for serious or educational purposes, since there's no scope for measured explanation: he contrasts this with the presidential debates between Lincoln and Douglas that lasted (literally) for hours without benefit of anything but oratory.

One wonders what Postman would have made of the internet. His ire is largely focused on television's image-based format, which discards the deliberation of the printed word and so changes the ways in which information is expected to be presented in other media as well. The internet seems superficially to be the apotheosis of this idea, but I'm not completely convinced: most internet content is textual, after all, especially the blogs and fake news that receive most of the condemnation at the moment. (Brexit, interestingly, was quite TV-driven, and so maybe a better illustration of Postman's thesis.)

As well as the media issues, Postman also prefigures the era of big data with a comment that would be almost throwaway at the time he wrote it, since his readers wouldn't have seen what was coming:

Thus, a central thesis of computer technology – that the principal difficulty we have in solving problems stems from insufficient data – will go unexamined. Until, years from now, when it will be noticed that the massive collection and speed-of-light retrieval of data have been of great value to large-scale organisations but have solved very little of importance to most people and have created at least as many problems for them as they may have solved.

That – from before the commercial internet – is a perfect summing-up of the modern problems with privacy and content sharing, familiar from Who Owns the Future?. While I would argue that computers have solved a huge number of problems for ordinary people, and have potentially enabled them to explore the truth of a massive array of propositions of daily importance, I can't deny the accretion of power in the centres of the network. It's amazing that so prescient an analysis was performed so early.

Finished on Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700.   Rating 5/5.

Spirit of Place

Charles MacLean

2015


An excellent guide, both to the distilleries and their surroundings. The pictures are quite amazing, and often capture details of the distilling process that are being lost or overtaken at many distilleries.

Finished on Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700.   Rating 5/5.

The World Until Yesterday

Jared Diamond

2012


Perhaps the best summary discussion of the differences between traditional and modern societies one could imagine. Diamond is both an expert in his field and an expert in communicating its intricacies – and he doesn't shy away from the details in making often subtle points.

There is no romance here for traditional ways of life: no room for Rousseau. It's a life that many traditional peoples, when offered the choice, abandon with little regret. The perils of the traditional life are many, not least from other members of neighbouring tribes or bands. Diamond makes an identical point to that made by Stephen PinkerStephen Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity: modern societies are by far the most stable and peaceful social structures we've ever created. But there are other hazards: skin scratches are elevated to the ranks of the top-five causes of death (from infection). Diamond himself makes the point, in his excellent concluding chapter, that despite his emotional and professional commitment to New Guinea, he's never considered moving there.

Diamond is at his strongest when discussing war, lifestyle, and religion – and he deals sure-footedly with that most difficult of topics. He's less deft in dealing with the diseases of different societies: not because of any lack of mastery, but because the detail feels overwrought somehow. But that's a minor complaint for a book that's overwhelmingly detailed and balanced, and that tries to draw out the best of traditional societies in a way that might find application for we moderns, without ever losing sight of the fact that the modern world is in many ways an infinitely more preferable place in which to actually live.

Finished on Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0700.   Rating 4/5.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

Steven Pinker

2010


A comprehensive look at an important problem of perception.

I sort of disagree with Pinker's hypothesis that most people believe the world is more violent than in the past: than in the recent past, perhaps, but I don't think anyone really disputes that the past 2,000 years had more violence in them. Where dispute arises, I think, is when one considers pre-State or pre-chiefdom level societies: did small bands live in harmony, as Rousseau and his followers would have us believe? Pinker's answer is a clear "no", when one considers the death rates of small-society violence.

But in some ways this is an essay manifesting itself as a book. The introduction and conclusion are quite compelling in their own rights: violence has decreased, people do live more peaceful and safe lives now than at any other point in history, local eruptions of extreme violence notwithstanding. The rest of the book provides the evidence, and it's vitally important that it's been collected, synthesised, and analysed by someone as skilled as Pinker. And it's the source of fascinating anecdotes that it's a shame to risk missing – but its very depth and length make that risk real, as well as becoming lost in the fascinating but ultimately inconsequential analyses of a certain body of evidence. It's a depth that's necessary for a research work or thesis, but perhaps off-putting for a casual reader.

Finished on Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800.   Rating 4/5.

Call for papers: 11th IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems

SASO 2017 is now accepting paper submissions. Come and join us in Arizona!

SASO 2017

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ · 18-22 September 2017

Aims and Scope

The aim of the Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems conference series (SASO) is to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research on the foundations of engineered systems that self-adapt and self-organize. The complexity of current and emerging networks, software, and services can be characterized by issues such as scale, heterogeneity, openness, and dynamics in the environment. This has led the software engineering, distributed systems, and management communities to look for inspiration in diverse fields (e.g., complex systems, control theory, artificial intelligence, chemistry, psychology, sociology, and biology) to find new ways of designing and managing such computing systems in a principled way. In this endeavor, self-organization and self-adaptation have emerged as two promising interrelated approaches. They form the basis for many other so-called self-* properties, such as self-configuration, self-healing, or self-optimization. SASO aims to be an interdisciplinary meeting, where contributions from participants with different backgrounds leads to the fostering of a cross-pollination of ideas, and where innovative theories, frameworks, methodologies, tools, and applications can emerge. The eleventh edition of the SASO conference embraces this inter-disciplinary nature, and welcomes novel contributions to both the foundational and application-focused dimensions of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems research. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Systems theory: nature-inspired and socially-inspired paradigms and heuristics; inter-operation of self-* mechanisms; theoretical frameworks and models; control theory;
  • System properties: robustness; resilience; stability; anti-fragility; diversity; self-reference and reflection; emergent behavior; computational awareness and self-awareness;
  • Systems engineering: reusable mechanisms and algorithms; design patterns; architectures; methodologies; software and middleware development frameworks and methods; platforms and toolkits; multi-agent systems;
  • Theory and practice of organization: self-governance, change management, electronic institutions, distributed consensus, commons, knowledge management, and the general use of rules, policies, etc. in self-* systems
  • Theory and practice of adaptation: mechanisms for adaptation, including evolution, logic, learning; adaptability, plasticity, flexibility
  • Socio-technical systems: human and social factors; visualization; crowdsourcing and collective awareness; humans-in-the-loop; ethics and humanities in self-* systems;
  • Data-driven approaches: data mining; machine learning; data science and other statistical techniques to analyze, understand, and manage behavior of complex systems;
  • Self-adaptive and self-organizing hardware: self-* materials; self-construction; reconfigurable hardware;
  • Education: experience reports; curricula; innovative course concepts; methodological aspects of self-* systems education;
  • Applications and experiences with self-* systems in any of the following domains are of particular interest:
    • Smart systems: smart grids, smart cities, smart environments, smart homes, etc.
    • Industrial automation: embedded self-* systems, adaptive industrial plants, Industry 4.0, cyber physical systems
    • Transportation: autonomous vehicles, traffic optimization
    • Autonomous systems: aerial vehicles, undersea vehicles, autonomous robotics
    • Internet of Things: self-* for network management, self-* applied to cyber security
We are looking for contributions that present new fundamental understanding of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems and how they can be engineered and used, including: novel theoretical or experimental results, novel design patterns, mechanisms, system architectures, frameworks, tools, and practical experiences in building or deploying systems and applications. Contributions contrasting different approaches for engineering a given family of systems, or demonstrating the applicability of a certain approach for different systems, are equally encouraged. Likewise, papers describing substantial innovation or insights in the use and communication of self-* systems in the classroom are welcome. Where relevant and appropriate, accepted papers will also be encouraged to participate in the Demo or Poster Sessions.

Important Dates

Abstract submission May 1, 2017
Paper submission May 10, 2017
Notification June 30, 2017
Camera ready copy due July 12, 2017
Conference September 18-22, 2017

Submission Instructions

Submissions can be up to 10 pages, formatted according to the standard IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide, and submitted electronically in PDF format. Please submit your papers using the SASO 2017 conference management system: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=saso2017. The proceedings will be published by IEEE Computer Society Press, and made available as a part of the IEEE Digital Library. Note that a separate Call for Poster and Demo Submissions will also be issued. As per the standard IEEE policies, all submissions should be original, i.e., they should not have been previously published in any conference proceedings, book, or journal and should not currently be under review for another archival conference. We also highlight IEEE’s policies regarding plagiarism and self-plagiarism (http://www.ieee.org/.../ID_Plagiarism.html).

Review Criteria

Papers should present novel ideas in the cross-disciplinary research context described in this call, motivated by problems from current practice or applied research. Both theoretical and empirical contributions should be highlighted, substantiated by formal analysis, simulation, experimental evaluations, or comparative studies, etc. Appropriate references must be made to related work. Because SASO is a cross-disciplinary conference, we encourage papers to be intelligible and relevant to researchers who are not members of the same specialized sub-field. Authors are also encouraged to submit papers describing applications. Application papers should provide an indication of the real-world relevance of the problem that is solved, including a description of the domain, and an evaluation of performance, usability, or comparison to alternative approaches. Experience papers are also welcome, especially if they highlight insights into any aspect of design, implementation or management of self-* systems that would be of benefit to practitioners and the SASO community. All submissions will be rigorously peer reviewed and evaluated based on the quality of their technical contribution, originality, soundness, significance, presentation, understanding of the state of the art, and overall quality.

Contact Information

Conference General Chair

Ada Diaconescu Telecom Paris-Tech, Paris, FR

Program Chairs

Peter Lewis, Aston University, Birmingham, UK Sam Malek, University of California, Irvine, USA Hella Seebach, Augsburg University, Augsburg, DE

FAS* 2017 Call for Workshops

Workshops now open for the  FAS* (ICCAC and SASO) conferences in Arizona in September

The FAS 2017 Steering Committee invites proposals for the Workshop Program to be held along with the technical conferences SASO 2017 and ICCAC 2017. FASW workshops will provide a meeting for presenting novel ideas in a less formal and possibly  ore focused way than the conferences themselves. Their aim is to stimulate and facilitate active exchange, interaction, and comparison of approaches, methods, and ideas related to specific topics, both theoretical and applied, in the general area of Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems as well as Cloud and Autonomic Computing. To motivate the discussion and participation of all the workshop attendants, we encourage organizers to get away of the typical "mini-conference" format of a workshop, and include more discussion sessions, panels, etc. Members from all areas of the SASO and ICCAC communities are invited to submit workshop proposals for review. Workshops on global challenges, applications or on new and emerging topics are particularly encouraged. Workshops can vary in length, but most will be one full day in duration. Optionally, if desired by the organizers, workshop proceedings can be published through IEEE. Attendance of workshops will be included in the registration fee for the main SASO/ICCAC conference.

Important dates

  • Workshop proposal submission deadline: April 7, 2017*
  • Workshop acceptance notification: April 14, 2017*
  • CfP submission deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Workshop paper submission deadline: July 7, 2017
  • Workshop paper acceptance notification: July 21, 2017
  • Early registration deadline: TBD
  • Camera-ready papers due: July 26, 2017
  • Workshop notes submission to workshop chairs: July 28, 2017
  • Workshops dates: September 18 & 22, 2017
  • Please submit your workshop proposals as soon as possible (i.e. before April 7)! We will try to decide earlier on workshop acceptance in order to give the organizers more time to solicit papers.

Requirements for submission

Proposals for workshops should be separated in two parts. The first part should be organized as preliminary call for papers or call for participation, depending on the intended format of the workshop, with a maximum of two pages and contain the following information:

PART 1:

  • Title of the workshop.
  • A brief technical description of the workshop, specifying the workshop goals, the technical issues that it will address, and the relevance of the workshop to the main conferences. Please specify, which of the two main conferences the workshop assigned to (if any)!
  • Description of paper review process (if any) and acceptance standards in order to keep the workshop high in quality. Note that papers must be in the same format as the conference proceedings and may not be more than 6 pages in length.
  • The names, affiliations, postal addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of the proposed workshop organizing committee. This committee should consist of three or four people knowledgeable about the technical issues to be addressed. The organizing committee should include individuals from multiple institutions.
  • The primary email address for contacting the organizing committee.
  • Expected duration of the workshop (half or full day). - A brief description of the workshop format.
  • List of potential program committee members (if applicable), including their title and affiliations.
  • List of potential invited speakers, panelists, or disputants (if applicable).

PART 2:

The second part with a maximum of three pages should contain additional information not suitable for a Call for Papers, including:

  • A discussion of why and to whom the workshop is of interest.
  • A list of related workshops held within the last three years, if any, and their relation to the proposed workshop.
  • Information about previous offerings of the proposed workshop: when and where it has been offered in the past, organizers names and affiliations, number of submissions, acceptances and registered attendees.
  • An indication of the envisaged acceptance rate (if applicable).
  • A description of the qualifications of the individual committee members with respect to organizing a SASO or ICCAC workshop, including a list of workshops previously arranged by any members of the proposed organizing committee, if any.
  • A list of places (distribution lists, web sites, journals, etc.) where the workshop is planned to be advertised.

All proposals should be submitted in plain ASCII text or PDF format by electronic mail to the FAS*W 2017 Workshop Chairs, via Christopher Frantz, as described below.

Selection Criteria

The selection of the workshops to be included in the final FAS* 2017 Workshop program will be based upon multiple factors, including:

  • the scientific/technical interest of the topics,
  • the quality of the proposal,
  • complementarity with the conference topics,
  • balance and distinctness of workshop topics, and
  • the capacity of the conference workshop program.

Note that authors of proposals addressing similar and/or overlapping content areas and/or audiences may be requested to merge their proposals.

Responsibilities of FAS* 2017 Workshop Chairs

For all accepted proposals, FAS* 2017 will be responsible for:

  • Providing publicity for the workshop series as a whole. - Providing logistical support and a meeting place for the workshops.
  • Together with the organizers, determining the workshop date and time.
  • Liaising and coordinating between the workshop chairs and the finance chair, publicity chair, registration chair, and web chair for FAS*.
  • Arranging for publication of proceedings.

Responsibilities of Workshop Organizers

Workshop organizers will be responsible for the following:

  • Setting up a web site for the workshop.
  • Advertising the workshop (and the main FAS* conference), and issuing a call for papers and a call for participation.
  • Collecting and evaluating submissions, notifying authors of acceptance or rejection on a timely basis, and ensuring a transparent and fair selection process. All workshop organizers commit themselves to adopt the deadlines set by the committee.
  • Making the pdf of the whole workshop notes available to the workshop chair, as well as a list of audio-visual requirements and any special room requirements.
  • Writing a 1-page organizers' introduction for the workshop proceedings. Ensuring that the workshop organizers and the participants register for the workshop and/or the main conference (at least one author must register for the paper to appear in the proceedings).

FAS* reserves the right to cancel any workshop if the above responsibilities are not fulfilled, or if too few attendees register for the workshop to support its running costs.

Submissions and Inquiries

Please send proposals (as a PDF document) and inquiries to: Christopher Frantz (cf@christopherfrantz.org) or Jeremy Pitt (j.pitt@imperial.ac.uk)

https://saso2017.telecom-paristech.fr/committees.html