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Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Lancaster United Kingdom Applied Mathematics Artificial Intelligence Internet Of Things Other Software Engineering

About the Project

The realisation of autonomicity is one of the grand challenges in Computer Science. It is the property that would allow a software system to be built and maintained by itself (i.e., with no programmer intervention). This property has the potential to have a significant impact in diverse domains of the Internet of Things (IoT), ranging from smart cities and manufacturing to security and healthcare. However, achieving the full potential of autonomous IoT systems is hindered by diverse research challenges such as the ones associated with software construction semantics, formal verification (especially at run-time) and self-* properties (e.g., self-composition, self-configuration, self-healing and self-protection).

This PhD project aims to lay the semantic foundations of a software component model that can exhibit a wide range of self-* properties. For instance, it can dynamically adjust its architecture/composition in the presence of changes in the external operating environment (e.g., change in requirements and increasing workloads) and unforeseeable internal situations (e.g., system failures and sub-optimal performance). This adaptation process can potentially be done by dynamic component reconfiguration (e.g., component addition/removal/replacement). A potential direction to achieve this is through the exploration of "bio-inspired" methods that can be mapped onto computational abstractions. Another possible approach could be using existing techniques based on Machine Learning, Pure Mathematics (e.g., Geometric Combinatorics or Category Theory), or even Quantum Computing.

Research areas: Formal Methods; Foundational Semantics; Models of Computation; Automated Software Engineering; Autonomous and Self-Adaptive Systems; Internet of Things.

Candidate Profile

The appointment requires an MSc degree in Computer Science, Mathematics or a closely related area, with excellent marks in BSc and MSc degrees. Ideal candidates must have earlier experience with the study and definition of theoretical aspects of Computer Science such as type theory, formal languages and models of computation.

Strong candidates will demonstrate that they are "abstract thinkers" not just good programmers. They are also expected to show that they are self-organised and eager to work on challenging problems.

Application Requirements

  • A 3-4 research proposal addressing the topic described above.
  • Curriculum Vitae summarising education, awards, positions, academic work and scientific publications.
  • Academic transcripts of MSc and BSc degrees.
  • At least three first-authored publications in international venues. This requirement can be relaxed if the applicant has more than two international awards or holds an MSc in Mathematics or Theoretical Computer Science.
  • Letters of recommendation from two references (including the MSc supervisor).
  • The English requirements can be found here:

There is no application deadline but we advise interested candidates to apply early since the number of studentships we offer is limited.

Funding Notes

Self-funded students are also welcome.


D. Arellanes and K.-K. Lau. "Workflow Variability for Autonomic IoT Systems". In International Conference on Autonomic Computing (ICAC), pages 24-30. IEEE, 2019.
R. Filho and B. Porter. "Defining Emergent Software Using Continuous Self-Assembly, Perception and Learning". In ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems, 2020.
D. Weyns. "Software Engineering of Self-adaptive Systems". Handbook of Software Engineering, 2019.

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