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Integrating Computation and Knowledge

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  • Full or part time
    Dr W Vasconcelos
    Prof D Sleeman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

A considerable amount of work has been undertaken to create ontologies, curate them and to use them as components of applications. This proposed research will consider some longer term challenges with these activities and how they might be addressed. The challenges we have identified include:

1. Domain experts (including practising scientists and medics) often find it hard to appreciate some of the subtleties/complexities inherent in knowledge representations (including ontologies). Can we develop software tools which enable domain experts to express information about their domain in a way which is natural to them and which enables a range of domain-specific tasks to be solved? Further, can we produce tools which enable the inherent knowledge in eg databases and spreadsheets to be enhanced to capture additional distinctions needed to address more demanding applications?

2. Can ontologies once formulated be used to support the definition of effective and efficient computational solutions?

3. The fluid nature of ontologies and computational solutions inevitably leads to revision and new versions. Can we provide support for the disciplined revision of ontologies when software is being developed? Can the reverse (i.e., the revision of software which impacts on reference ontologies) also be supported?

This research project will focus on the third of these challenges. That is, the project will focus on scenarios involving a tight coupling between conceptual knowledge captured in ontologies, and the more diverse world of intelligent systems (which incorporate a variety of computational paradigms). The project will explore several ways in which computation and knowledge can be more effectively integrated.

The successful applicant will have a first or upper second class degree (or equivalent) in Computing Science or Artificial Intelligence, along with knowledge of Semantic Web and Knowledge Representation; the person will be a competent programmer, and have experience of using Java.

Please note that this is a 24 month Master of Philosophy programme not a 36 month Doctor of Philosophy programme.

Some support will be provided to allow attendance at meetings in both years. Appropriate Computer equipment will be provided.

The start date for the project is to be agreed between the successful applicant and the supervisors.

Funding Notes

Tuition Fees will be paid at UK/EU rates (£3,600 in 2013/2014). A maintenance stipend will also be provided at UK Research Council rates (£13,726in 2013/2014).

Applications from International applicants can be accepted provided they can confirm that they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition fees from their own resources, for the duration of their studies For the academic year 2013/2014 this will be £11,400 pro-rata. Applicants should bear in mind that Tuition fees will rise annually. The maintenance stipend cannot be use to pay the difference in fees as it is paid monthly in arrears.


1. Carbonara, L. & D. Sleeman. (1999).Effective and Efficient Knowledge Base Refinement. Machine Learning, Vol 37, pp143-181.
2. Sleeman D, Vasconcelos W, & Gibson M (2013) Integrating Computation and Knowledge. ESWC WoDOOM (Workshop on Debugging Ontologies & Ontology Mappings)

Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for Degree of Master of Philosophy in Computing Science, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal enquiries can be made to, Professor D Sleeman, University of Aberdeen with a copy of your current CV and a covering letter detailing your suitability for the project. Email: ([email protected]). All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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