EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme PhD Studentship

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

The Manufacturing Analytics Research Group at the Distributed Automation and Information Lab, IfM, is seeking a PhD student to work in the area of "Blockchain for facilitating multi-agent automation in distributed manufacturing operations".

Multi-agent systems have promised to revolutionise decentralised industrial operations by equipping them with learning capability, flexibility and autonomy. Previous use cases have included supply chain planning and service and maintenance planning. In these, agents have been used as a mechanism to automate decision making and negotiation between industrial partners, and learn from past actions to optimise outcomes collectively. However, several of the characteristics that make them ideal for these applications such as autonomy, decentralized control, collective emergent behaviour, hinder them from being applied to real-world problems, because companies cannot trace how agents reach decisions and therefore do not trust in the technology. Blockchain, an emerging technology originated in Bitcoin application, demonstrates that by combining peer-to-peer networks with cryptographic algorithms a group of agents can reach an agreement on a particular state of affairs and record that agreement without the need for a controlling authority, thereby creating traceability. The combination of Blockchain with agent based systems can provide the necessary framework for manufacturing organisations to benefit from agent based systems.

The aim of this project is to create a Blockchain based secure framework to enable manufacturing systems with multiple partners to act collectively and autonomously; thereby strengthening the case for the uptake of decentralised autonomous decision making.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (and preferably a Master’s degree) in Computer Science, Engineering or a related subject.

This studentship will pay full University fees and a maintenance allowance of at least £14,582 per year for UK students. EU citizens are eligible for a fees only award.

Overseas students are not eligible for this Studentship and should not apply.

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions web pages http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/gradadmissions/prospec/apply/, with Dr. Alexandra Brintrup identified as the potential supervisor

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

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