PhD Studentship: Controlling Self-Organising Behaviours in Robotics: An Evolutionary Computation Approach

Aston University - School of Engineering and Applied Science

School of Engineering and Applied Science Postgraduate Research Studentship (4 years)

Controlling Self-Organising Behaviours in Robotics: An Evolutionary Computation Approach

Applications are invited to apply for a four year Postgraduate Research studentships, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Computer Science Research Group at Aston University. The successful applicant will join the newly formed Aston Institute for Systems Analytics.

This studentship is combined with a teaching assistant role. The successful candidate will be required to provide up to an average of 6 hours per week of teaching support for a programming bootcamp; therefore applicants must have a good understanding of Java and SQL. As part of their professional development, students will receive training relevant to their teaching role and will have the chance to complete a Master's level qualification in Professional Practice in Higher Education.

The position is available to start in July 2018 (or earlier by agreement).

Financial Support
This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home/EU tuition fee rate plus a maintenance allowance of £15,500 in 2017/18.

Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £12,005 for the 2017/18 academic year.  As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or, secured this additional funding.

Background of the Project
Evolutionary computation refers to a family of algorithms inspired from the Darwinian theory of natural evolution. Genetic algorithms, genetic programming, evolutionary strategies, particle swarm optimisation, etc. apply principles similar to those governing biological organisms (i.e., selection and reproduction) to solve computing problems, mainly optimisation and modelling. This research aims to use evolutionary computation in its latter capacity, that of building models of systems and their behaviour.

Self-organising systems are decentralised and dynamic aggregations of parts. They exist both in nature (insect swarms, fish schools, human communes, etc.) and in computing (e.g., multi-agent systems, swarm robotics, communication networks). They rely on the emergence of structured behaviour from the interaction - collaboration or competition - of their components.

Self-organising systems are unpredictable, noisy and nonlinear, all problems that evolutionary techniques are designed to tackle. This invites more research in evolving models of emergent behaviour, with applications in evolutionary robotics, enabling realtime adaptation by evolving control algorithms for live robots and enhancing machine creativity (e.g., reassembling music fragments and colour schemes in innovative ways or generating new derivations from a given verse pattern).

For more details, go to Research Projects – PhD studentship description at

Person Specification
The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Computer Science or a related degree with a strong focus on programming.  Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of evolutionary computation, self-organising systems and writing scientific papers.

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the Computer Science Research Group, contact Dr Alina Patelli by email

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here.

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

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Midlands of England