RGU at forefront of UK artificial intelligence research

Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) School of Computing Science and Digital Media has swept the board in best papers at this year’s International Conference on Innovative Techniques and Applications of Artificial Intelligence organised by the BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT.

Blessing Mbipom and Dr Stewart MassieRGU triumphed in two categories – The Donald Michie award for best technical paper in memory of one of the UK’s early AI pioneers, and the best student paper in the technical stream of the conference.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a key role to play in an increasingly digital world - many of the tools on our smartphones use AI to help you organize your diary and email, to find suitable online products and suggest music tracks and films which you will like.

The prize-winning research projects by staff and students at RGU developed innovative AI technologies which are designed to assist people.

The Donald Michie Award was given to Blessing Mbipom and her PhD supervisors Professor Susan Craw and Dr Stewart Massie. Her research is designed to help users discover the right documents in the mass of e-learning materials available on the Web. Learners are new to the topic they are researching so find it hard to ask the right question in a search engine. Blessing’s project has developed an e-learning recommender which learns from topics in e-books in order to focus the search for learning materials that suit the user.  

The best student technical paper was given to PhD student Anil Bandhakavi’s research and is supervised by Professor Nirmalie Wiratunga and Dr Stewart Massie. This research addresses problems with analysing sentiment on Twitter, which has previously proven difficult due to the limited text available and the complexities associated with informal language. An emotional-aware model, learned from emoticon containing tweets, maps terms to sentiment using relationships proposed by psychology.

Susan Craw, commented: "We are delighted our leading-edge research in Artificial Intelligence has been recognized in these ways. The Best Paper honour is reserved for the very best research at this annual conference of the British Computer Society’s Specialist Group on AI. This UK-based conference has an international profile, attracting papers from universities and companies from across the world.

"It is particularly rewarding both awards were for PhD student projects. We have a very vibrant PhD student body who are working across a range of computing topics, many contributing to the development of novel AI technologies which can be used across a wide range of applications."

"RGU’s AI research tends to be grounded in real world applications. In the past this has often focused on solving challenging problems for industry. These papers reflect the growing uptake of AI technologies within digital tools and smartphone apps for people to use. The intersection of people, data and AI algorithms is a very promising space and one that is likely to have far-reaching impacts."

As a further accolade for RGU’s AI research, a former PhD student Sid Shakya, now at BT Research Labs, is co-author of the paper winning the Rob Milne Memorial Award for best application paper. Rob Milne was a pioneer of real-world AI applications and his substantial contribution to technology was recognised by RGU with an Honorary Doctorate in 2005.

Susan continued: “These awards confirm that RGU is at the cutting edge of the AI revolution and is leading the way in this time of Big Data plus Artificial Intelligence, delivering intelligent tools to help people organize their digital lives.”

In addition to these award-winning papers, RGU will also be presenting a paper on the AI technologies underpinning a health management mobile app. This paper is based on the EU SelfBack project that provides tailored, personalised recommendations for self-management of back pain.


Release by Rob Smith

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