Big data project gets £3m funding boost

An exciting ’big data’ project linking business and academia has been awarded 3 million in funding, it was announced today (Monday 29 January 2017).
Led by the University of Glasgow, the project brings together globa l businesses with data scientists, statisticians, control engineers and urban social scientists to find solutions to ensuring large scale data-driven system perform optimally.
By working closely with businesses who need answers to big data problems, academia can learn what really matters to the data owners. It will test how to keep data useful and current in a number of areas including personalisation of hearing aids; analysis of cancer data, and adapting the computing resources for a major bank.
The partnership includes the University of Glasgow; JP Morgan, Skyscanner, Widex, the Urban Big Data Centre, the Data Lab and Glasgow Polyomics.
Amazon are also keen to support the work on this project via Amazon Web Services and engagement with Amazon Research.
Professor Roderick Murray-Smith, who leads the Information, Data and Analysis Section at the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, said: “Our world is developing incredibly rapidly. We are acquiring data from billions of devices in our homes, businesses and environments.
“Analysis and interaction with these vast amounts of data is at the core of the challenge for us all. When monitoring living cities or companies and the data that flows through them we are not able to run ‘clean’ experiments on them. We get data which is affected by the way they are run today, which limits our ability to model these complex systems.
“Many organisations and cities have little choice but to ignore the large volumes of data they are producing as they have no way of analysing it. Our project is about how to learn from data and optimise performance when a system is running.”
A simple example of how data can be changed by user interaction would be a guidance system like a car park recommender.
A car park recommender is based on current models and sensed behaviour in a city. But once car park users start changing their behaviours based on these recommendations, that changes the behaviour of vehicle owners in the city and the original recommender data becomes less effective as a model, as it isn’t evolving with the changed behaviour.
That means new understanding and practical tools are urgently needed. This project aims to find these practical solutions, says Professor Murray-Smith.
It is vital that academic and data owners work together so that we can find solutions by testing systems working live with people with real goals and constraints to see how they adapt and where they need to change as user’s impact on the data.
Professor Mike Barrett, Director of Glasgow Polyomics, said: “Research in the Life and Biomedical Sciences today collects data on an unprecedented scale. We need ways of finding useful information from the massive data sets appearing from genome and other big data projects.
“Linking to data science will enable a better understanding of the processes of life and where they may go wrong. In turn this will help in our quest for new drugs and ways to equilibrate the environment.”
Gillian Docherty, CEO at The Data Lab, which brings industry and academia together as a vital component to the UK data science ecosystem, said: “Scotland is a trailblazer when it comes to data science and initiatives like this further enhances our international reputation as an epicentre for data science excellence.
“Collaboration is the key to unlocking the full potential of data in the UK. This partnership with the University of Glasgow goes right to the heart of what we do, harnessing data to find solutions which enable data-driven systems to operate to their best ability.”
The project is one of five data science research initiatives announced today which will share in 14m in funding from EPSRC.
Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said: “Data pervades almost every aspect of modern life. Collectively we are producing ever more data but we need the mathematical and systemic tools to deal with it, quickly and accurately to make productive use of it. These projects will help scientists and businesses make discoveries and better informed commercial decisions.”
Universities and Science Minister, Sam Gyimah said: We know the data we hold can change the way we live our lives and these important research projects will help us better understand the vast amount of data that is produced on a daily basis. Some of the best minds in our Research Councils and at higher education institutions will work collaboratively on these projects with industry and public bodies, helping to extract value and use data to assist with decision making.
“Through our modern, ambitious Industrial Strategy and artificial intelligence Sector Deal and Grand Challenge, we will build on our reputation as a world-leader in this transformative technology, ensuring we make the very most of our data output and help build a Britain fit for the future.”


School of Computing Science

Professor Roderick Murray-Smith - research profile

EPSRC news release

Closed Loop Data Science