Intelligent Systems Lab - Heriot-Watt University

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Intelligent Systems Lab

Heriot-Watt University

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Welcome to the Intelligent Systems Lab (ISL) at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. We are part of the Department of Computer Science in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

We work on computing methodologies, specifically those aspects of artificial intelligence that are state-of-the-art in the 21st century. We invent and use novel and effective techniques. Modelling and simulations allow us to understand biological systems, humans, and their brains. We are involved in agent based and knowledge based systems, approximate reasoning, artificial neural networks, DNA computing, membrane computing and evolutionary computing. Some of our agents are decision-making agents in a micro-economic context; others are synthetic characters interacting with a virtual world. We develop swarms of 'detectives', seeking new and innovative designs, and solutions to difficult problems. Agents make plans, and we find ways how to deal best with uncertainty, and emotions. We do emotion engineering. Animation, mobile communications, cars, homes, and computer games can all be emotionally intelligent and responsive. Our agents can engage in a dialogue with users, informing, persuading and motivating, taking into account the user's interests and state of mind.

Our work has a very wide range of applications. These include computer based diagnosis, pattern recognition and classification, intelligent user interfaces, web intelligence and fault-tolerant robotics. We apply our research to data mining, genome analysis, engineering design, knowledge discovery, and logistics. We assist traders and bidders at auctions. We help SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) with establishing networks. We help larger enterprises optimise or rejuvenate their services (communication networks, production schedules, product designs), and unlock hidden knowledge in their databases.Our agents are embodied in virtual environments, and in robots. In our lab, we use neural networks for shape classification, medical diagnosis, geo-archaeological analysis, gene discovery, radiotherapy treatment planning, industrial plant control, and robot control. Our research on uncertainty is useful to stroke victims and Alzheimer's patients.

The Intelligent Systems Lab was founded in 1984 to pursue the synthesis of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques with control engineering methods to produce intelligent systems. The lab participates in a wide range of industrial collaborative research projects, as well as EPSRC and EU funded research. The Intelligent Systems Lab has grown significantly in the last couple of years.

You can find the lab in the Earl Mountbatten building.

PhD studies and funding

About three students a year graduate from the Intelligent Systems lab with a PhD. On average one of those finds work in academia in the UK, one returns to an academic position in their country of origin, and one goes to work in industry. Feel free to email any member of our lab for information about a PhD. Ask academic staff why their work is important. Ask current PhD students how good their supervisors are, and what life in Edinburgh is like.

It pays to take some risk with funding. Once you decide that an Intelligent Systems PhD is for you, apply to Heriot-Watt, use the online application form. Put 'Intelligent Systems' in the field of study, and choose 'School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences'. We can only decide the level of support we can offer you after you have applied. Nearly all students gets some support. If you wait till your supervisor has a research position available, you will have few opportunities. Our academic staff apply for research grants all the time. If you are here, you will be considered first when support becomes available, your name may even be mentioned in the grant application.

If you are still unsure, please contact Prof. Philippe De Wilde either via email: or phone: +44 (0) 131 451 8306.

ISL People

Last updated 08 June 2011