• Nathaniel Byrne

Newsletter, 3 December 2020

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


New £4m high performance computing facility to be established at University of Birmingham

The project is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, The Rosalind Franklin Institute, The Alan Turing Institute and Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron. It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation and an allocation of this service will be available to EPSRC-funded researchers.

Called 'Baskerville' and named after John Baskerville, the enlightenment-era Birmingham industrialist, the Tier 2 accelerated compute facility will provide a state-of-the-art platform for graphics processing unit (GPU)-accelerated computing. It will help researchers to accelerate machine learning algorithms and simulation technology, with wide-ranging applications in computer vision, language processing, molecular modelling, and materials science. Professor Iain Styles, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Computer Science, Director of the University’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and Turing University Lead for Birmingham, led the bid.

Dr Per Lehre awarded Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships

Congratulations to Dr Per Lehre of the University of Birmingham's School of Computer Science, one of a number of outstanding researchers who have been chosen to develop AI technologies through prestigious fellowships announced last week.

In all, 15 leading researchers from various UK institutes, including the Turing, have been awarded Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships, named after AI pioneer Alan Turing. The fellowships are supported by a £20m government investment, being delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to lead innovative, creative AI research with transformative impact.

Sir Adrian Smith becomes President of the Royal Society

On Monday 30 November, Sir Adrian Smith, Institute Director and Chief Executive of the Turing, began his role as President of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science. We wish him well as he takes up the role, after his election in May this year, and as he continues his leadership of the Turing.

Calls & Opportunities

Wanted – Ideas for engaging with the Turing

As we continue to operate in a virtual world, how can the Turing continue to connect across its network? As mentioned at the Turing Catch-up, we are looking for ideas for virtual engagement activities and platforms through which to deliver them. They don’t just have to be just research focused but could also be ideas for training, social activities or simply how to work better in a virtual environment - all ideas are welcome. Email any ideas to

Express your interest to join the Turing’s reviewer pool

Expressions of interest are now welcomed for reviewing Turing initiatives from the Turing Community and beyond. As the Institute is growing, there are an increasing number of activities within the Turing that require advice from expert and generalist reviewers. These include recurrent work linked to academic programmes (e.g. Enrichment Scheme / Data Study Groups / Training Provision), and the review of externally proposed projects that Turing engages with.

We are hoping to create a reviewer pool of individuals who hold diverse expertise and who can be guided by an established framework to ensure transparent and consistent reviewing across these programmes. Find out more and express your interest.

Events at the University of Birmingham

UoB Data Science and Computational Statistics Seminar

This is the Data Science and Computational Statistics Seminar series jointly between the School of Mathematics and the School of Computer Science.

  • Tuesday 08 December 2020, 16:00-17:00: Symbulate: Probability Simulations in Python (Dr Dennis Sun, California Polytechnic State University) Is it possible to make simulation code match the language of probability? Symbulate is a Python library developed with this goal in mind. The talk will address the design and technical challenges of the software, as well as the use of the library in teaching undergraduate data science students.

  • Thursday 17 December 2020, 15:00-16:00: Machine Learning and Dynamical Systems meet in Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Spaces (Dr Boumediene Hamzi, Imperial College London) In this talk, we introduce a data-based approach to estimating key quantities which arise in the study of nonlinear autonomous, control and random dynamical systems. Our approach hinges on the observation that much of the existing linear theory may be readily extended to nonlinear systems–with a reasonable expectation of success–once the nonlinear system has been mapped into a high or infinite dimensional Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space.

For more details on these and upcoming seminars, please visit the Talk@bham page.

Tuesday 8 December 2020, 08:00 – 09:00

UoB Business Club: The Rise of Digital Start Ups

Join the UoB Business Club webinar to discover how the Covid-19 pandemic saw a rise in technology adoption and how this has impacted research and digital start-ups. Prior to the pandemic a fundamental shift towards digitalisation was already underway and current events has only accelerated this. Hear from data scientists and businesses alike to understand how a contactless world has inspired more start-ups, scale-ups and entrepreneurship than ever before. Speakers include Louise Butcher (Hartree Centre), Henry Whorwood (Beauhurst), and Yiannis Maos (Birmingham Tech Week).

Click here to register.

Events at the Alan Turing Institute

The Turing is committed to working flexibly and staying connected - we’ve reconfigured to virtual engagement. You can watch highlights of our past events at the video archive on YouTube.

Data Seminar Series

An international showcase to the best scholarship involving geography and data co-sponsored by Newcastle University, University of Bristol and the Alan Turing Institute.

  • Tuesday 8 December 2020, 16:00: SAD 2020 | Spatial Regression and Regimes in Python Pedro Amaral is a senior lecturer at the Department of Economics, Cedeplar-UFMG-Brazil. He is also a Fellow at the Center for Spatial Data Science, University of Chicago and a Co-editor of Spatial Economic Analysis for the Journal of Spatial Econometrics and Regional Studies, Regional Science.

  • Tuesday 15 December, 16:00 -17:00: SAD2020 | Differential Privacy and Census Data: Implications for Spatial Analysis The US Census Bureau will use a differentially private algorithm to protect respondent privacy in 2020 Decennial data products. This new technique has massive implications for the reliability and utility of decennial data.

  • Wednesday 16 December, 18:00 -19:00: ATNU/IES | Basic Instinct: On Relatively Simple Computation and Literary Study Professor Martin Paul Eve, from Birkbeck, University of London, will talk about how the gap between the computational approaches favoured by most scholars in distant reading can be reconciled with the more enjoyable close reading methods favoured by Humanists, based on his recent book Close Reading with Computers.

Wednesday 9 December, 14:00-17:00

Workshop on generation of synthetic healthcare datasets

HDRUK are delighted to share invitation to the first Synthetic Data Special Interest Group workshop. The aim of the session is to act as a forum to bring together those interested in the broad field of synthetic data for healthcare. This workshop is intended to act as an informal introduction to the activities in this space within the health data community and beyond, with the intention of developing collaborations and/or knowledge sharing on the topic of Synthetic Data.

Speakers include:

  • How technically close are we to a vision for synthetic healthcare datasets? - Michaela van der Schaar, Cambridge

  • A data custodians view of synthetic healthcare datasets - Puja Myles, MHRA

  • Synthetic generation of complex healthcare data types (sensor data) -Peter Charlton, Cambridge

  • How can we ensure patient privacy? - Allan Tucker, Brunel University

Further information can be found here.

Thursday 10 December, 17:30 - 19:00

Data Debates: Talking about my generation

What does data really tell us about the generational divide?

This event will address current debates about how COVID-19 has exacerbated generational divides and exposed inequalities in mental health and wellbeing, housing, employment, access to green space and other areas. Find out more and sign up.


Tuesday 15 December 2020, 12:00-15:30

Institute of Mathematics Online Event

Mathematics of Big Data: Lessons from COVID-19

Generating a causal understanding of interventions for COVID-19 requires a confluence of several topics: statistical modelling and causal inference, estimation of mathematical models, and working with Big Data. This raises several difficult challenges that current mathematical approaches have gained some limited traction on. This event explores the mathematical challenges and opportunities that the COVID-19 epidemic has highlighted, that will go on to be important into the future.

Registration is currently open via the MyIMA Portal.

23- 24 March 2021

The Turing Presents: AI UK

Following the postponement of the event this year, we are pleased to confirm the event will now take place 23 - 24 March 2021.

The Alan Turing Institute continues to pursue its ambitious goals: by advancing world-class research in data science and artificial intelligence (AI), training and inspiring the leaders of the future, and shaping the public conversation. AI UK, a dynamic two-day event, will see the Turing host an unrivalled showcase featuring the very best of UK academic work in AI and machine learning.

Further information will follow in due course, including the release of additional tickets.

Alan Turing Institute News

Institute offices at The British Library to remain closed

Our offices will remain closed. Our plans to reopen were always subject to any rapid developments and this decision has been taken in the light of the new health and safety advice, rising rates of infection and the guidance to ‘only go to work if you must’.

Virtual access to the Institute

You can also stay connected to the Turing via: Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks for your continued support.

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