Research Group

Artificial Intelligence

A group of 6 images; a woman gesturing as she talks, a map of Europe with orange "hotspots", a person wearing a VR headset, a photo of a coral reef with patterns overlaid t, a screen displaying some computer code, and a digital image of a hand holding out a brain, both made of blue light.

Essex has a long-standing tradition of research into Artificial Intelligence. It was one of the first UK universities to house a central research activity in Artificial Intelligence, in the Department of Computer Science (CS).

The group’s mission is building systems and doing theoretical research which model, support or nudge decision making of autonomous entities. The group’s research ranges from the theoretical modelling of decision making to the design and implementation of software systems deployed in the real world. The group encompass five associated special interest groups:

The Artificial Intelligence group thematic research is complemented by the Research Centres and Institutes in:

Interdisciplinary research from the Institute of Analytics and Data Science IADS, focuses on producing data-centric solutions, for foundational problems as well as applied. IADS runs a popular annual summer school, attracting about 150 attendees per year.

The AI group is at the core of the ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, and contributes via IADS to the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC).

A multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence was launched in 2018 with The Welding Institute to expand our applied AI research to heavy industries and construction.

The School has also launched a strategic research partnership with British Telecom.

Related courses

MSc Artificial Intelligence

MSc Artificial Intelligence and its Applications

MSc Artificial Intelligence (based at TWI Cambridge)

Specialist interest groups

Analytics and Data Science

The Analytics and Data Science team works on all aspects of using computation to gain insights from real and simulated data.

The team covers a wide spectrum of practical and theoretical expertise and our members have core interests that broadly fall within the greater machine learning space and aligned fields, with these interests manifesting in both theoretical (e.g. algorithmic complexity) and practical work (e.g. how to best create a strong data science team).

Computational Finance and Economics

Our focus is on exploring the synergy between computation, economics and finance. Our members conduct wide-ranging research that includes;

  • (mathematical) Finance: Derivative Pricing
  • Computational Finance: Machine Learning in Finance
  • Computational Economics and Algorithmic Game Theory
  • Theoretical aspects of AI: Algorithms and Complexity

Natural Language and Information Processing

The work of the Natural Language and Information Processing (NLIP) research group is focused around the intersection of language and vision. We research how artificial/collective intelligence and multimodal information processing can enable state-of-the-art applications in inter-disciplinary fields such as human rights monitoring, environmental science and healthcare.

Natural language processing has been a key area of research for more than 40 years at the University of Essex. The Language and Computation group is an interdisciplinary group established to work on language analysis and computational techniques. It fosters interaction between researchers across the University, including staff and students from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, the Department of Language and Linguistics, Department of Psychology, the UK Data Archive and others.

The Computer Vision group investigates and develops methods and algorithms to better understand and process visual information (2D and 3D images and video). The core expertise of the group includes deep learning for biomedical image classification, image retrieval and evaluation, statistical modelling for pattern recognition and image and video understanding.

The group also includes the Marine Technology Research Unit, set up as a complement to the Coral Reef Research Unit in the School of Life Sciences to research the crossover of engineering and computer science in marine science and conservation.

We organise regular events including the Annual Research Day, and weekly research seminars during term time.

Games and AI

Our research involves using games as a test-bed for and an application of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) methods. Games provide an ideal way to study all aspects of AI, but within our group we place particular emphasis on general AI: the challenge is to develop software agents that can rapidly learn to play any games to a high standard just by playing them.

The research has creative applications, and we study the use of AI to help automate the game design process. We measure the performance and experience of AI agents playing games to assess their quality and tune their design.

Future Health and Technology

The Future Health and Technology lab works on many aspects of using artificial intelligence for health applications. At the end of 2019, the lab started to work on mental and brain health applications. Recently new members, experts in other human health-related fields, joined the lab.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, several academics from CSEE started to work on applications to face the pandemic (e.g. modelling), in strict collaboration with academics from other departments and universities and with clinicians. A part of these academics joined the lab which continues to have strong links with other departments, universities, and clinicians from NHS.

The team covers a wide spectrum of practical and theoretical expertise and our members have core interests not only in artificial intelligence but also in neuroscience, cardiology, molecular biology, neurorehabilitation, cognitive psychology, brain-computer interfaces, IoT, wearable devices, telecommunications, networking, application design, and gaming.

Our members conduct wide-ranging research that includes AI applied to;

  • Neurology and BCI
  • Virtual Reality and Gaming for Neurorehabilitation and Psychotherapy
  • Cardiology
  • General Clinics and Public Health
  • Bio-nano-machine communications
  • IoT and Remote Monitoring
  • Pandemics Modelling
  • Computational Biomedicine and Medical Imaging.

Our members

Dr Renato Amorim

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Javier Andreu-Perez

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Lina Barakat

Postdoctoral Fellow

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Katerina Bourazeri

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Jon Chamberlain

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Vito De Feo

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Faiyaz Doctor

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Professor James Doran

Emeritus Professor

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Michael Fairbank

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Professor Maria Fasli

Professor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Alba Garcia Seco De Herrera

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Shoaib Jameel

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Anish Jindal

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Michael Kampouridis

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Panagiotis Kanellopoulos

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Maria Kyropoulou

Senior Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Professor Simon Lavington

Emeritus Professor

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Yunfei Long

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Cunjin Luo

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr David Richerby

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Spyros Samothrakis

Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of IADS

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Professor Ray Turner

Emeritus Professor

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Dr Alexandros Voudouris

Lecturer

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, University of Essex

Activity in our group

Research excellence

AI group members publish in the best research outlets in the field including Science and Nature journals which evidence the excellence of our interdisciplinary research. In addition to rich publications in mainstream journals this Group has a long history of collaborating with other research institutions and industries.

The group has made fundamental theoretical and practical contributions where:

  • In the field of Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) and their applications. The work of Hagras on Explainable AI with British Telecom (BT) was awarded by the 2015 and 2017 Global Telecom Business Awards. Further, Hagras work was recognised by winning best student paper award in the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems as well as being shortlisted for the 2015 Outstanding Paper Award in IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems. Hagras pioneering work on workforce allocation in complex dynamic environments with British Telecom was awarded the Best Paper Award in the 36th International Conference of the BCS SGAI International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge, December 2016.
  • Fasli was appointed the first UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science.
  • Natural language processing has been a key area of research at the University of Essex for more than 40 years. Theoretical work on information retrieval in large data spaces led to the development and success of London-based start-up Signal AI where we have won the 2015 National Best KTP partnership Award. The work won Best Demo Paper Award at 2015 European Conference for Information Retrieval (ECIR) and was the catalyst for a series of workshops focusing on AI in information retrieval.
  • Additionally, academics from the group developed an NLP-based platform for civilian-led monitoring human rights abuses which forms part of the evidence base of the United Nations and other organizations including the Minority Rights Group (MRG).
  • Chamberlain, Clark and Garcia have developed a state-of-the-art computer vision system for 3D marine surveying that increased surveying speed 10-fold, revolutionising the UK’s capacity for precision habitat monitoring through Natural England (the project won DEFRA’s Breaking the Mould Award in 2020).
  • Theoretical work investigating disagreement and ambiguity in human language was given a significant boost by the 5-year ERC funded DALI project (Poesio, Chamberlain and Bartle) that has developed novel algorithms for consolidating multiple interpretations of text and has published the largest collaboratively-created corpus of documents annotated for coreference.
  • IADS is part of the ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre (ESRC BLG) and of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC).
  • The School has also launched in 2018 a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence with The Welding Institute, Cambridge to expand our applied research to heavy industries and construction.
  • The group has won a large number of projects funded by EPSRC, ESRC, EU, Innovate UK and strategic partnerships with industry and international organisations such as UNESCO, BT, Essex County Council and Provide CIC. In addition, we are part of IGGI (Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence) centre for doctoral training, which is sponsored by EPSRC.
  • We are successfully running a conversion MSc degree in AI with the support of the Office for Students. This degree, "MSc Artificial Intelligence and its Applications", provides an opportunity to everyone to become an AI or data science specialist irrespective of their background. CSEE has successfully acquired funding from the OfS, which will be primarily spent on scholarships.
  • We are also in the process of developing a unique MSc in AI in partnership with “The Welding Institute” (TWI) to start in October 2021. Students will be attending Essex modules remotely, while being placed at an industrial environment in Cambridge, thus gaining both an academic and an industry-focused experience. To the best of our knowledge there is no similar offering by any other UK HEI.

Research community

  • We run a series of research talks and seminars throughout the year. Previous speakers have included Dr Alexandros Voudouris from the University of Oxford on "Peeking Behind the Ordinal Curtain: Improving Distortion via Cardinal Queries", Dr Sefki Kolozali from the University of Essex who discussed "Can the symptoms of COPD patients be remotely detected?", and our Emeritus Professor Edward Tsang who presented his work on “Detecting Regime Change in Computational Finance".
  • In the Artificial Intelligence group, the School joined forces with the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex in the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project. Funded by grants from the ESRC and the University of Essex, the project considers the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, big data and associated technology from a human rights perspective. In this project CSEE academics Fox, McDonald-Maier, Poesio and Kruschwitz collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in criminology, economy, law, philosophy, political science and sociology to tackle challenges like algorithmic accountability to protect human rights, understanding how AI can also threaten the right to equality and privacy, exploring the use of NLP to detect mis and disinformation and investigate how these affect human rights and use modern computer vision technology to empower human rights organisations and the United Nations.
  • The ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre (ESRC BLG) (PI: Fasli, CoIs: Matran-Fernadez, Raza) collaborates with private sector, public sector and not-for-profit organisations who can wield the transformative power of data to benefit their communities. By supporting them in implementing best practice, we create real-world impact, influencing policy and informing practice. BLG’s aim to be the UK’s centre of choice for data research.
  • Samothrakis is a co-I in the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC), a multidisciplinary centre, promoting collaboration between economists, sociologists and other social scientists, and using quantitative social science to provide evidence with which to address key societal challenges. MiSoC has been based at Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex since 1989, but it is a collaboration with specialists from universities around the world, and the current research programme is run jointly with researchers at the University of Bristol.

Research facilities

  • CSEE academics have access to the University’s High-Performance Computing cluster “CERES”. The cluster has 1008 processing cores provided by servers with a mix of Intel E5-2698 and Intel Gold 5115 processors, and between 512Gb and 1.5Tb RAM each. Storage is provided by a set of storage nodes providing 440Tb of storage. There are also 24 NVIDIA GTX and RTX Series GPU cards.
  • The Natural Language and Information Processing (NLIP) Laboratory has two high performance servers (£60k) specifically for text and image processing research projects where the HPC cluster cannot be used, a number of large-scale multi-lingual commercial datasets, image capture equipment, deep Trekker DTG3 remotely operated vehicle and a Delta WASP 3D printer used for surveying and conservation research by the Marine Technology Research Unit.
  • Staff also make use of other infrastructure available across the University such as the UK Data Archive, which houses the UK’s largest collection of datasets in social sciences and humanities. Such datasets are important for the School’s work in machine learning and data analysis as well as growing research in the area of big data and text analytics. IADS houses multiple research-focused desktops, with all members required having direct access to GPUs, alongside two ESRC BLG associated high-performance GPU focused machines.
3d model of a pot
Insight: Investigating north Norfolk’s chalk reef using rapid 3D reconstructions

We worked with Natural England to analyse the condition of chalk reef off the coast of north Norfolk, giving a clear insight in to the impact of human activity on this essential ecosystem.

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Professor Hani Hagras Joint Head of Group
Professor John O'Hara Joint Head of Group