PhD Studentship: Diversity in Collective Computing Systems

Aston University - Engineering and Applied Science

  • Application invited for fully funded four year PhD studentship
  • Stipend £15,500 (tax free) for four years

Applications are invited to apply for a four year Postgraduate Research studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Computer Science subject group at Aston University. The successful applicant will join the Aston Lab for Intelligent Collectives Engineering (ALICE) under the supervision of Dr Harry Goldingay and Dr Peter Lewis.

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 distance learning programme; therefore applicants must be capable of teaching on an undergraduate course in Software Engineering. Details of teaching responsibilities and a list of taught modules can be found here.

Project Details

Increasingly, computing systems are composed of many interacting components which, due to issues of scale or separation, cannot be centrally controlled; instead, it is desirable that these components organise themselves in a bottom-up way in order to achieve system-wide goals. We call such systems "collective systems" [1].

In collective biological and social systems (such as teams, ant colonies and whole ecosystems) diversity is known to provide a range of benefits. Recent work has shown that collective computing systems (such as cloud computing systems, sensor networks, population-based algorithms) can also benefit from diversity. Performance, adaptability and robustness of such systems can often benefit from different forms of diversity, including heterogeneity (when components behave differently from each other) and dynamics (when components' behaviours change over time) [2].

We do not yet have a principled way of determining how such diversity should be organised, or how it might evolve in response to environmental feedback. This will be necessary in order to deploy effectively configured systems that benefit from these properties.

The aim of this PhD project is to understand how different forms of diversity benefit self-organising collective systems faced with certain types of problems, and how to design for this. The expected contributions of this PhD are a new understanding of the mechanisms by which heterogeneity and dynamics can be of benefit, and new models and algorithms for the effective use of them in specific collective systems.

Further Information

For enquiries about this project contact Dr. Harry Goldingay (

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

For more information, and to apply, click here.

The application deadline is 23.59 hours GMT on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

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