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Topological evolution of Neural Networks through network building blocks [CDT-AIMLAC Studentship]

Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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Dr L Turner , Prof Roger Whitaker No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Research surrounding the topological evolution of artificial Neural Networks (NNs) have found particular efficacy in promoting modularity and regularity as the networks evolve [1,2], mimicking processes found in nature. This project will aim to go a further in this direction by examining how the composition of particular substructures and sequence signatures of these [3], seen as the building blocks of complex networks in nature [4], manifest in the evolution of NNs and determine how targeting preservation or disruption of this effects learning.

[1] Stanley, K. O., D'Ambrosio, D. B., & Gauci, J. (2009). A hypercube-based encoding for evolving large-scale neural networks. Artificial life, 15(2), 185-212.


[3] Milo, R., Shen-Orr, S., Itzkovitz, S., Kashtan, N., Chklovskii, D., & Alon, U. (2002). Network motifs: simple building blocks of complex networks. Science, 298(5594), 824-827.

[4] Milo, R., Itzkovitz, S., Kashtan, N., Levitt, R., Shen-Orr, S., Ayzenshtat, I., ... & Alon, U. (2004). Superfamilies of evolved and designed networks. Science, 303(5663), 1538-1542.

The UKRI CDT in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Computing (AIMLAC) aims at forming the next generation of AI innovators across a broad range of STEMM disciplines. The CDT provides advanced multi-disciplinary training in an inclusive, caring and open environment that nurture each individual student to achieve their full potential. Applications are encouraged from candidates from a diverse background that can positively contribute to the future of our society.

This project is located at Cardiff University School of Computer Science and Informatics, and the research theme is: T3 - novel mathematical, physical and computer science approaches


The scholarships are open to UK/home and international candidates. For more information on eligibility, please visit the UKRI CDT in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Advanced Computing website

Entry Requirements

A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject. Candidates should be interested in AI and big data challenges, and in the research theme - novel mathematical, physical and computer science approaches.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate their proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component. (


Please visit the CDT website and follow the instructions.

 Applicants should apply for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpage:,

Select the programme Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science & Informatics with a start date of 1st October 2021, and upload these documents with your application:

• your CV

• a personal statement/covering letter

• two reference letters

• current academic transcripts

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project. If you are applying for more than one project, please list the individual titles of the projects in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’.

To complete your application please email a pdf(s) of your application to [Email Address Removed]

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