Computational Optimisation and Learning (COL) Lab
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About the Computational Optimisation and Learning (COL) Lab

The Computational Optimisation and Learning (COL) Lab was launched in the summer of 2019.  We are a group of academics, researchers and PhD students based in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham. Our research and teaching are primarily around the application of novel optimisation and learning methods in real world applications, with a strong theoretical input.

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Keys aims and expertise

COL has come out of a highly successful research group – the Automated Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning (ASAP) group. ASAP existed for 22 years with a highly successful research track record in terms of PhD completions, publications, project funding and, most importantly, impact. For example, ASAP contributed 3 of the 5 impact case studies for the School of Computer Science in REF 2014. However, the nature of the group changed over time with a gradual change towards optimisation and learning with new academics and new funding so in 2019 as a group we decided to relaunch as COL which better represents who we are and what we research.  

We are at the cutting edge of new methodologies and techniques for optimisation and learning. We have expertise in tackling a diversity of optimisation problems such as airport operations, personnel scheduling, vehicle routing, transport logistics, network routing, predictive maintenance, wind farm operations, portfolio investing, cutting and packing and educational timetabling among others. 

In this era of ‘big data’, bringing together optimisation and learning can provide outstanding solutions to real world problems across various sectors including transport, energy, food production, logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, aerospace, communications, finance, build environment, etc. We have significant funding including from EPSRC, Innovate UK and the EU all around optimisation and learning in real world applications with industry. We are always happy to talk to companies about how we might work together. In the first instance please contact Professor Dario Landa-Silva (pszjds@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk) who is also the REF Impact Lead for the School of Computer Science. 

Current Projects

DEAS EPSRC Digital Economy: Digitally Enhanced Advanced Services (DEAS) NetworkPlus

In a recent speech Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) identified a productivity puzzle -that despite the onset of digital technologies, there is a very long tail of poorly productive firms, across all sectors, and productivity (value of outputs/value of inputs) has hardly improved in the last ten years. Much of the historical focus on productivity has been on applying digital technologies to improve the efficiency of ‘inputs’ (i.e.; reducing time and costs), rather than ‘outputs’ (i.e.: increasing value created). There is therefore a major opportunity is to re-focus such initiatives.

Digitally Enhanced Advanced Services (DEAS) offer enormous potential for value creation enabled by transformative digital technologies. Here the focus of the firm is on delivering ‘capability’, rather than on conventional sale of product or service, and so value delivered through how the product or service is used. This is a major change in how firms earn money (e.g.: payment-per-use, availability or outcome) and is an area where the UK has the potential to excel.

This Digital Economy (DE) Network+ aims to deliver a vibrant community that will position the UK as the internationally leading research hub for DEAS. Through this programme we will:-

  • foster a community which brings together both ‘Early Career’ and experienced researchers in an interdisciplinary networks panning Computer Science, Human Factors, Engineering and Business,
  • (working collaboratively on fundamental (TRLs 1-3) technological challenges (i.e.: AI techniques, data analytics, and associated technologies) across Manufacturing, Transport and Financial services,
  • with a clear ‘line of sight’ to achieve industrial impact (we bring match funding of £1.4M to demonstrate industries willingness to engage),
  • delivering a formal repository of successful DEAS use-cases to provide a platform for scale up research and practice.

Principal Investigator: University of Exeter, Co-Investigators: Bob John (COL), Aston University, Cranfield University, University of Greenwich 

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ENLIVEN project, funded by the European Commission, is within a consortium of 10 European countries. At the COL Lab, we focus on knowledge discovery to establish case based reasoning systems to support policy making in lifelong learning across Europe.

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We are actively involved in NATCOR, a collaboration between ten universities, to develop and deliver taught courses in Operational Research to PhD students. We host the course entitled Heuristics & Approximation Algorithms

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Please visit our Projects pages for the full listing of our current and completed projects

 News

KTP Best of the Best Awards 2019 Finalists

Congratulations to Simon Kingston, KTP Associate with EventMap and the COL Lab who has been selected as one of the best future innovators. Simon Kingston has been working with Dr Ender Ozcan to further the collaborative work with EventMap in the emerging area of ‘fairness’ measures in timetabling and scheduling.

For more information:- https://ktn-uk.co.uk/news/ktp-best-of-the-best-awards-2019-finalists-announced

 

Hyper-heuristics: Theory and Applications

Nelishia Pillay, Rong Qu

Dr Rong Qu has jointly authored a book titled "Hyper-heuristics: Theory and Applications" in the Springer Natural Computing Series. This is the first authored book on hyper-heuristics, presenting fundamental theories and the recent applications of hyper-heuristics to combinatorial optimisation problems. It also illustrates the HyFlex framework and the EvoHyp toolkit, presents advanced topics in future research directions, and in the appendices offers details of the definition, problem model and constraints for the most tested four combinatorial optimisation problems.

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Academic Members

University of Nottingham - Malaysia Campus

  • Prof Graham Kendall -    Provost and CEO, University  of Nottingham Malaysia  Campus                                  Pro Vice Chancellor,  University of Nottingham      

University of Nottingham - Ningbo, China Campus

Spin-off Companies 

EventMAP Ltd - The Timetabling and Scheduling Specialists

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Staff Roster Solutions - Fast, intelligent, rostering automation

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Upcoming Events

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We are based in Computer Science, Jubilee Campus, on B Floor

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COL Lab

The University of Nottingham
School of Computer Science
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB


telephone: +44 (0) 115 9514206
email: pszjds@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk