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2015 CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations competition

The 2015 CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertations competition is now open for submissions via the submissions site. Closing date Wednesday 1 April 2015. Further details can be found below and on the competition web page.

The Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC), in conjunction with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, annually selects for publication the best British PhD/DPhil dissertations in computer science.

The scheme aims to make more visible the significant contribution made by the UK - in particular by post-graduate students - to computer science. Publication also serves to provide a model for future students. The selection panel on behalf of BCS/CPHC consists of experienced computer scientists, not more than one from any institution, each normally serving on the panel for three years.

Any dissertation is eligible which is submitted for a doctorate in the British Isles in what is commonly understood as Computer Science. (Theses which are basically in some other discipline but which make use, even very extensive use, of computing will not be regarded as eligible.)  However, there is a limit of THREE dissertations per year per university, and one per research group within any university.

To be considered, a dissertation should:

  • make a noteworthy contribution to the subject;
  • reach a high standard of exposition;
  • place its results clearly in the context of computer science as a whole; and
  • enable a computer scientist with significantly different interests to grasp its essentials.
It is reasonable to submit a thesis to the scheme if it has all of the above qualities in good measure, and if it is comparable in standard with the top 10% of dissertations in the subject. Long dissertations are not encouraged; if the main text is more than 80,000 words, there should be good justification.

The dissertation should be submitted electronically (as a PDF file) by the author's examiners, or by the Head of Department with the examiner's advice. The submitted version of the dissertation must be the final version after any required corrections have been made. The competition period for the 2015 competition is for theses accepted from 1 January 2014 until the closing date of 1 April 2015. A dissertation cannot be submitted to the competition more than once.

The dissertation should be accompanied by a written nomination comprising the following information:

  • a justification, of about 300 words, by one of the examiners -- preferably the external -- explaining the dissertation's claim to  distinction (against the criteria listed above);
  • the name of the primary supervisor and the research group within the university to which the student was primarily affiliated;
  • an assurance that within the competition period the examiners have recommended to the author's institution that the doctorate should be awarded;
  • the names and contact details of three suggested reviewers who are not in the same Department as the nominated thesis and who are independent of the supervision and examining of the thesis; and
  • an indication should be given if the dissertation is being considered for publication elsewhere.

The nominated reviewers must have confirmed that they are willing to provide a review. In addition the author's written agreement that their thesis may be considered for the Distinguished Dissertation competition should be emailed by the author to

Submissions should be made on-line via

The first author name submitted should be that of the thesis author; the individual submitting the nomination should list themselves as the second author. The title and abstract should be those of the thesis being nominated. The first file uploaded should be the 300 word nomination; the thesis document should be uploaded as an attachment.

If any problems are experienced, or you have any questions, please email for assistance.

The deadline for submission is 1 April 2015.

Laureation for Professor Dana Scott

I had the honour (and the great personal pleasure) of inviting the Vice-Chancellor to bestow an honorary degree upon Dana Scott, the inventor of some of the most influential ideas in computer science.

Vice-Chancellor, I have the privilege to present Professor Dana Scott for the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Vice-Chancellor, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

For millennia, people have performed calculations, sometimes changing the way we live or understand the world. Many of these calculations have involved long, complicated sequences of actions — what we now refer to as algorithms. But it was only in the 1930s that researchers such as Alonzo Church, John von Neumann, Alan Turing, and others formally studied how we perform calculations, which rapidly opened-up the mechanisation of such operations and led to what we now know as computer science.

What does it mean to describe a calculation? For Turing, it meant designing an ideal machine whose small set of simple operations could perform computation — an operational view of computing that allows machines to perform tasks previously thought to require humans. But we can also think of computation independent of mechanisation, where mathematics can be applied to studying computation, and a theory of computation becomes available for the study of mathematics, physics, and other disciplines. And when we take this view, we are making use of ideas that owe their modern existence to the work of Dana Scott.

Scott was a PhD student of the logician Alonzo Church, whom I mentioned earlier. Working with the late Christopher Strachey at Oxford, Scott developed a theory of computation that allows calculations to be analysed, studied, and compared. Scott’s insight was to view computation as a steady increase in information. His development of the mathematical structures now known as Scott domains provided a way of precisely describing this progression. They in turn led directly to an approach for formally describing programs and programming languages — the Scott-Strachey approach to denotational semantics — and indirectly both to approaches to proving programs correct, and to the development of lazy functional programming languages that today form a major strand of computer science research: one to which St Andrews is proud to be making an on-going contribution.

If asked, most computer scientists would agree that denotational semantics forms Scott’s most lasting contribution; they might marvel that, later this year, at the age of 81, he will be delivering a keynote lecture in Vienna at the main international conference on computational logic; and they would probably be able to tell you that he is a recipient of the Turing Award, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Computer Science”. However, Scott in fact won the Turing Award, jointly with Michael Rabin, for work on automata theory that predates his work on semantics. In other words, he won the highest accolade his discipline has to offer for work not generally considered to be his most significant. As you might imagine, this is a rather unusual occurrence: in fact, the only other example I can find in the entire history of science is the award of the Nobel Prize to Albert Einstein for work other than his theory of relativity. That’s not bad company to be keeping.

When we think of computers, we often think of their visible manifestations: the internet, mobile phones, aircraft flight control systems, Angry Birds. But no matter how impressive, and how much they continue to change our lives for the better, these systems are possible only because of the foundational intellectual developments that let us reason about proofs, calculations, and computations, as well as simply carrying them out. Vice Chancellor, the work of Dana Scott grounded the discipline of computer science, not only in a specific piece of theory, but also in an approach and a mindset that changed how we think about computing and, through this, has had a profound influence across the whole of human endeavour. It is in recognition of these seminal contributions to science that I invite you to confer upon Professor Dana Scott the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Photo here.

(Thanks to Al Dearle, Steve Linton, Lisa Dow, and Muffy Calder for comments that made this better than the first draft I did.)

Research fellowships available in Dublin

Two post-doctoral positions in smart cities now available at Trinity College Dublin.

Research Fellowships in Autonomic Service-Oriented Computing for Smart Cities

Applications are invited for two Postdoctoral Research Fellowships at Trinity College Dublin’s Distributed Systems Group to investigate the provision of a new service-oriented computing infrastructure that provides demand-based composition of software services interacting with a city-wide, dynamic network infrastructure. The project will investigate autonomic adaptation of services and infrastructure, ensuring resilient service provision within an integrated, city-wide system.

Applicants should have a Ph.D. in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or a closely-related discipline and strong C++/C#/Java development skills. Experience with autonomic computing, service-oriented middleware, and/or smart city technologies is desirable as are strong mathematical skills.

The project is supported by Science Foundation Ireland under the Principal Investigator programme between 2014-2018 and will be conducted in collaboration with Cork Institute of Technology, NUI Maynooth, IBM Smarter Cities Research Centre, Intel Intelligent Cities Lab, EMC2 Research Europe, and Arup.  The position is tenable from September 2014.

Please apply by email to quoting “Smart Cities Fellowship” in the subject line. Applications should include a curriculum vitae, in PDF format, giving full details of qualifications and experience, together with the names of two referees. The closing date for applications is the 20th June, 2014.

Trinity College is an equal opportunities employer.

Call for papers: new journal on self-adaptive systems

Papers are welcome for the EAI Endorsed Transactions on Self-Adaptive Systems.

EAI Transactions on Self-Adaptive Systems

Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Emil Vassev, Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland


This journal seeks contributions from leading experts from research and practice of self-adaptive systems that will provide the connection between theory and practice with the ultimate goal to bring both the science and industry closer to the so-called "autonomic culture" and successful realization of self-adaptive systems. Both theoretical and applied contributions related to the relevance and potential of engineering methods, approaches and tools for self-adaptive systems are particularly welcome. This applies to application areas and technologies such as:

  • adaptable user interfaces
  • adaptable security and privacy
  • autonomic computing
  • dependable computing
  • embedded systems
  • genetic algorithms
  • knowledge representation and reasoning
  • machine learning
  • mobile ad hoc networks
  • mobile and autonomous robots
  • multi-agent systems
  • peer-to-peer applications
  • sensor networks
  • service-oriented architectures
  • ubiquitous computing

It also hold for many research fields, which have already investigated some aspects of self-adaptation from their own perspective, such as fault-tolerant computing, distributed systems, biologically inspired computing, distributed artificial intelligence, integrated management, robotics, knowledge-based systems, machine learning, control theory, etc.


Manuscripts should present original work in the scope of the journal and must be exclusively submitted to this journal, must not have been published before, and must not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Significantly extended and expanded versions of papers published in conference proceedings can be submitted, providing also a detailed description of the additions. Regular papers are limited to a maximum of 20 pages. Prepare and submit your manuscript by following the instructions provided here.


Authors are not charged with any publication fees and their papers will be published online with Open Access. Open Access is a publishing model where the electronic copy of the article is made freely available with permission for sharing and redistribution. Currently, all articles published in all journals in the EAI Endorsed Transactions series are Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons with Attribution license and published in the European Union Digital Library.


  • Christopher Rouff , Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, USA
  • Danny Weyns , Linnaeus University, Sweden
  • Franco Zambonelli , UNIMORE, Italy
  • Genaina Rodrigues , University of Brasilia, Brazil
  • Giacomo Cabri , UNIMORE, Italy
  • Imrich Chlamtac , CREATE-NET Research Consortium, University of Trento, Italy
  • James Windsor , ESTEC, European Space Agency, Netherlands
  • Michael O'Neill , UCD, Ireland
  • Mike Hinchey , Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland
  • Richard Antony , University of Greenwich, UK
  • Simon Dobson , Uni­ver­sity of St Andrews, UK