Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PhD Studentship in Distributed Computing - University of Bristol UK

Social insect colonies face similar decision problems to those inherent in large-scale information processing systems such as the internet, grid computing and utility computing centres. These systems are too complex for classical control techniques to be applicable, as global information on the state of the system is impossible to obtain. However, we can draw inspiration from the algorithms employed by social insect colonies. These algorithms work robustly using simple rules of thumb, without centralised control, and achieve or approximate optimality. Hence these algorithms will prove ideal for decentralised optimal control problems such as those encountered in distributed computing.

Recently, a new social-insect behaviour has been examined experimentally, collective nest-site selection during colony emigration. This is a collective decision-making mechanism, that converges on a unique solution while exhibiting a tuneable compromise between the speed and the accuracy of decision-making. The successful applicant will investigate the application of this behaviour to distributed control problems in utility computing centres, with input from HP Labs. It is expected that the student’s research will also lead to developments in algorithm design and statistical decision theory.

The successful candidate will have a high quality first degree(s) in a numerate discipline such as mathematics, physics or computer science. The studentship will be based in the Machine Learning and Biological Computation Group, in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bristol. For more information on the Department and the Group visit www.cs.bris.ac.uk and www.cs.bris.ac.uk/Research/MachineLearning.

The studentship is expected to commence in early October 2008, but an immediate start may be possible by negotiation. The studentship will pay tuition fees and a stipend of 12,600 GBP per annum for 3 years. UK citizens and EU-citizens resident in the UK for at least 3 years previously are eligible to apply. Exceptional overseas applicants may also be considered.

Apply by email to Dr James Marshall, enclosing PDF copies of your CV and a covering letter outlining your interest in the project. It is anticipated that interviews with shortlisted candidates will be held within 2 weeks of the application deadline.

For informal discussions contact Dr James Marshall (www.cs.bris.ac.uk/~marshall)

The closing date for applications is 14th March 2008.