Computational Optimisation and Learning (COL) Lab

Current Projects

Project Title


Funding Source


Algorithm Design Engineering (Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow 2022)

Assoc. Prof. Rong Qu (PI)

The Royal Society SRF\R1\221062

Amount Awarded - £55,069 
Start date October 2022 - End date September 2023

This fellowship addresses the challenges in automated design of heuristic algorithms in combinatorial optimisation. With a platform built upon a novel consistent model, which serves as the first standard defining different algorithms, effective heuristic algorithms can be engineered quickly and automatically. Scattered knowledge of algorithm design can thus be retained in consistent datasets for machine learning, sustaining reusable expertise across research and applications.


Professor M Bradley (PI)

Michael Somekh (CI)

Amanda Wright (CI)

Computer Science:
Andrew J. Parkes (CI)

Michael Pound (CI)

and more.

Amount Awarded - £5,577,754 
Start date 01/06/2020 - End date 31/05/2025

This is a collaboration with  the University of Edinburgh and the University of Southampton. Imagine a world where walking through a revolving door or archway allows "invisible light" (light outside our normal visual range) to generate detailed 3D images of any patient with high resolution! This is the global vision and targeted ambition of this 2050 proposal. This will allow us to target very early detection of disease using light (referred to as a non-ionising radiation technology) in association with fast computational methods and artificial intelligence (AI) to reconstruct images. This will be transformative, is a practical reality, and in addition potentially offers unique treatment options for the healthcare needs of 2050.



Serhiy Bozhko (PI)

Jason Atkin (CI)

Amount Awarded - €4,829,335 (€1,123,276 to Nottingham)
Start date 01/02/2021 - End date 31/01/2025

After the constantly growing utilisation of electric power for non-propulsive aircraft systems, the next-generation aircraft tends to be based at a great part on electrification. This solution offers significant advantages such as a reduction in aircraft weight, fuels and total life costs, increased reliability, and easier maintenance. Towards the transition to a much more-electric aircraft, the EU-funded ORCHESTRA project aims at developing and delivering a holistic framework of innovative, modular, scalable 'building blocks' that incorporate emerging technologies and groundbreaking design ideas. The COL Lab component of this project involves utilising optimisation and automatic controller synthesis techniques to aid in system design and development.


2ZERO, Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations                           

Jason Atkin (PI)          

Geert De Maere (CI)

Daniel Karapetyan (CI)

Innovate UK

Amount Awarded - £1,852,840 (£525,270 to Nottingham)
Start date 01/02/2021 - End date 31/01/2025

To develop a demonstrator for a hybrid electric aircraft suitable for commercial passenger use and evaluate the use of such an aircraft for commercial passenger use. The COL Lab element is to build a simulation of the airline, airports and airspace to allow the evaluation of different approaches for utilising the smaller hybrid-electric aircraft in point-to-point networks to gain connectivity across the UK, replacing larger aircraft in hub-and-spoke networks.


Interpretable Decision-Support Systems for Sustainable Business Operations                           

Isaac Triguero (PI)

Dario Landa-Silva (CI)

Nicholas Watson (CI)

Unilever PLC

Innovate UK

Amount Awarded - £179,186
Start date 01/03/2022 - End date 29/02/2024

To unlock business value from big data by building predictive models to guide faster decision-making and to develop business systems efficiently and with sustainability at the core.


Serhiy Bozhko (PI)

Jason Atkin (CI)

Amount Awarded - €826,260 (€272,081 to Nottingham)
Start date 01/04/2018 - End date 31/12/2021

As more and more systems on aircraft become electrical, it becomes increasingly important to optimally control systems in the case of generator failures, to safely manage any overloads. This project developed a supervisory controller to manage other controllers to coordinate the handling of overloads, utilising different sources of stored power along with strategic reduction of power to low priority loads, ensuring safety of aircraft even in extreme situations. By guaranteeing to quickly manage overloads, the over-sizing of generators can be reduced, reducing generator and aircraft weight, and contributing to the move towards greener aviation.


Hyper-heuristics for Routing                          

Ender Ozcan (PI)          

Ahmed Kheiri (CI) - Lancaster University

Optrak (CI)

Amount Awarded - £207,627 (£139,110 from Innovate UK + £68,517 from Optrak)
Start date 01/05/2019 for 27 months


To support Optrak to develop and implement novel and advanced hyper-heuristics based routing technologies for standard and non-standard haulage markets.


Accelerated Discovery and Development of New Medicines. Prosperity Partnership for a Healthier Nation: GlaxoSmithKline, University of Strathclyde with University of Nottingham


  • Peter Licence (UoN PI)
  • (UoN CI's) - Christopher Moody, Clive Roberts, Ender Ozcan, Hon Lam, Jonathan Hirst, Liam Ball, Michael George, Michael Stocks, Ricky Wildman, Ross Denton, Simon Woodward, Victor Sans Sangorrin
  • Project Partners - Added Scientific Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), Key Organics Ltd, Perceptive Engineering Ltd, Strem Chemicals UK Ltd.

Funding source


Amount awarded


Start to end date

1/1/2019 - 31/12/2023


This Prosperity Partnership aims to build on existing vibrant collaborations between GSK and the Universities of Nottingham and Strathclyde. The strengths of each partner will be leveraged to deliver a new suite of methods and approaches to tackle some of the major challenges in the discovery, development, and manufacture of medicines. Our vision is to increase efficiency in terms of atoms, energy, and time; resulting in transformative medicines at lower costs, reduced waste production, and shorter manufacturing routes. 


EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry: Atoms-2-Products an Integrated Approach to Sustainable Chemistry

Peter Licence (PI)

Hon Lam (CI)

Francesca Paradisi (CI)

Edward Lester (CI)

Ricky Wildman (CI)

Tim Foster (CI)

Simon Woodward (CI)

Ender Ozcan (CI)

Simon Mosey (CI)

Amount Awarded - £6.2M
Start date 01/10/2019 - End Date 31/03/2028

A multi-disciplinary CDT in sustainable chemistry which aims to achieve a sustainable pipeline of performance molecules from design-to-delivery. A2P will create an Integrated Approach to Sustainable Chemistry, promoting a culture of waste minimisation, emphasising the development of a circular economy in terms of materials and matter replacing current modes of consumption and resource use.

Project Partners: Added Scientific Ltd, Arcinova, AstraZeneca UK Limited, BEACON Bioeconomy Research Centre, Britest Limited Bruker, CatScI Ltd, Coal Authority, Coventive Composites, Croda (Group), Enlumo Ltd, European Thermodynamics Ltd, eventMAP Ltd, Friedrich-Alexander Uni of Erlangen FAU, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), IUPAC, James I University (Jaume I), Key Organics Ltd, Lubrizol Ltd, McGill University, Pontifical Cath Uni of Rio Grande do Sul, Promethean Particles Ltd, Sygnature Discovery Limited, Synthomer Ltd Thomas Swan, UNIDO, Unilever (UK), Yale University Added Scientific Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), Key Organics Ltd, Perceptive Engineering Ltd, Strem Chemicals UK Ltd and more.


Data-driven Energy Management Systems

Isaac Triguero (PI)

Dario Landa Silva (CI)      

E.On Uk Plc - Industrial Partner      

Amount Awarded - £219,492 (£109,746 from Innovate UK + £109,746 from E.oN)
June 2018


To enable and empower customers to transition from 'passive energy customers' into 'proactive energy customers' by bringing big data science and optimisation into the energy management systems.


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

University of Exeter (PI)

Prof Robert John (PI)   

Aston University (CI)

Cranfield University (CI)

University of Greenwich (CI)          

Amount Awarded - £1.3M


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.


European industrial doctorate for advanced, lightweight and silent, multifunctional composite structures

Amount Awarded  - €809.000
Start date 01/03/2018 - End date 28/02/2022


Modern aeronautical structures are increasingly made of composite materials due to their well-known benefits. Despite their superior structural characteristics, composite structures exhibit poor dynamic and acoustic isolation levels compared to conventional metallic ones. As a result and in order to maintain the comfort levels in the passenger and payload compartments within acceptable limits, additional acoustic and vibrational isolation technologies (sound packages) are necessary in several transport applications. If non-optimally designed for a certain application, these sound packages can add substantial weight to the structure, compromising the weight benefits gained by the employment of composites.

The aforementioned challenges imply an urgent and genuine need for development of lightweight and multifunctional structures, for modern industrial transport applications. The N2N Training Network aims at developing a high-fidelity and efficient Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) scheme for multifunctional composites having poroelastic inclusions and combining minimum mass with maximum damping and comfort levels.

On the research side, N2N will focus on developing multiscale models for obtaining a comprehensive description of random poroelastic materials coupled to a composite structural segment. Understanding the interaction of acoustic waves with such complex materials is another scientific challenge that the Network will tackle. N2N aims at developing reliable tools for providing accurate optimal designs for multifunctional composite structures that combine lightweight properties with exceptional acoustic and vibration isolation.

On the training side, N2N will provide a fully supportive environment for 3 ESRs. A training programme aiming at developing both the research as well as the transferable skills of the Fellows has been designed. All Fellows will have the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary (industrial and academic) research environments.


OptiMACS - European industrial doctorate for efficient multidisciplinary design Optimization of Multifunctional Aerospace Composite Structures

Amount Awarded - €1.3M
Start date 01/05/2018 - End date 30/04/2022


Modern aeronautical structures are increasingly made of composite materials due to their well-known benefits. Optimizing the design of aerospace composites vis-à-vis the entire range of operational constraints (i.e. reliability, stability, strength, weight, noise, manufacturability and cost) to which the aircraft structures are subject, results in a particularly challenging task for the structural designer. Despite the volume of recent work dedicated to new Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) models and techniques, the ‘No free lunch theorem in optimisation’ is constantly confirmed.

A genuine need is therefore identified for a programme that will: i) Develop, deliver and implement novel and efficient structural MDO technological tools for the European aerospace industry, ii) Nurture and train the next European generation of MDO research professionals. OptiMACS has an intersectoral character, drawing know-how from both academic and industrial research and innovation teams. It also has an intensely multi-disciplinary character, coupling expertise from mechanical, aerospace, manufacturing and software engineering, as well as from the area of applied mathematics.

On the research side, OptiMACS will focus on improving the accuracy and efficiency of the MDO platform currently employed by AIRBUS. This will be achieved by enhancing the design models and criteria related to composites failure and manufacturing, developing and implementing multiscale models for composites as well as investigating advanced MDO algorithms and architectures for enhancing efficiency.

On the training side, OptiMACS will provide a fully supportive environment for 5 ESRs. A training programme aiming at developing both the research as well as the transferable skills of the Fellows has been designed. All Fellows will have the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary environment, spending at least 50% of their time at the premises of the industrial beneficiaries.  


System Tuning and Adaptation for the Heathrow Target Start-Up Approval Time (TSAT) Allocation System

Amount Awarded - £227,300
Start date 25/04/2012 - Ongoing for enhancements 


The TSAT system was developed by Nottingham for Heathrow Airport in 2008. An ongoing support and enhancement project started in 2012 and has been running ever since, enhancing the system to take account of new facilities and ongoing innovations and improvements at the airport. The system has been running live at the airport since 2013, and generates the predicted take-off times which aided the airport in becoming A-CDM compliant.



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

telephone: +44 (0) 115 9514206