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PhD opportunity - Supporting human insight with AI in urban master plan design space exploration

Supporting human insight with AI in urban master plan design space exploration
 We have an exciting PhD opportunity with the Data Science Institute and Arup ( – a really really interesting company.  If you are interested, please get in touch.  If you know someone who might be interested please pass this email on to them.  Candidates will need a first-class MEng, MSci degree or distinction at MSc. 
Prof Paul Kelly (Software Performance Optimisation Group, Dept of Computing, Imperial College London,
Dr David Birch (Data Science Institute, Dept of Computing, Imperial College London,
This is a collaborative research project with Alvise Simondetti of Arup’s Foresight team (
Design is the process of balancing competing concerns – aesthetically and in performance across many objectives, e.g. reducing carbon emissions within a cost budget. Analysing design performance often relies upon computationally intensive analysis models (ray tracing for lighting, computational fluid dynamics for acoustics and pollution dispersal). Such expensive models make exploring the vast design space intractable and frequently only a couple of designs are quantitatively analysed. This means opportunities to shape a better world are missed.
The goal of this project is to develop novel tool support for tackling architectural design problems, focusing initially on urban masterplanning.  The key challenge is not outright automation or optimisation, but rather supporting humans in deriving insight, particularly to understand the most profitable and flexible parts of the design space.  We propose to extend our prior work with with Arup in this field with techniques from statistical machine learning, in particular the idea of Kriging (also known as Gaussian process regression) to derive a simplified “proxy” model that can be evaluated quickly.  Such models should help offer instant, interactive design feedback, as well as enabling us to identify the statistically most likely-profitable directions for further exploration, with respect to multiple design objectives.   
This project is funded under the EPSRC’s Industrial CASE scheme, which supports collaborative research which is based in the university but benefits from regular contact and guidance from our industry partner, Arup.
If you’re interested, please email Paul Kelly with your CV with a short covering email explaining why you think this might be for you – as soon as possible.

Research Assistant/Associate (Software Developer)

Fixed Term appointment for 12 months

Research Assistant salary: £32,380 to £34,040 per annum

Research Associate salary in the range: £36,800 - £44,220 per annum

We have an exciting opportunity for a Research Assistant/Associate (Software Developer) to work on OPen ALgorithm project (OPAL). This is a joint initiative at Imperial College between the Data Science Institute (DSI) and MIT. 
This is a one year position in the first instance, but there may be subsequent PhD opportunities.

The Data Science Institute (DSI) launched in April 2014 as Imperial College’s fifth cross-faculty Institute. The DSI provides a focal point for multidisciplinary data-driven research, supplying technology support for partners, and educating the next generation of data scientists.

The OPAL project aims to develop a secure and transparent data-processing platform allowing large-scale location datasets to be used for good while truly preserving people’s privacy.  For a short overview of the project see:

The project is developed alongside a set of operational partners (MIT, Orange, Data-Pop) with Imperial leading the technical development of the open-source platform. We aim for the platform to be piloted and installed by our telecommunication partners in Senegal and Colombia ultimately allowing data from more than 8 million people to be analysed anonymously. The first users of the platform are the countries’ national statistical agencies who will test the platform and use the results of OPAL algorithms in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. real-time population density, inter-city mobility, etc).

The successful candidate must have an excellent software engineering skills and experience with data processing infrastructure. Experience with python, and non-relational databases along with an interest for privacy-preserving technologies is essential. Experience with Node.JS, RESTful APIs, and location data as well as an interest for the use of big data in developing countries is a plus.

To be appointed at Research Assistant level you will need a master’s degree (or equivalent) in computer science, software engineering, information science, or a related subject. To be appointed at Research Associate Level you must have a PhD (or equivalent) in the above areas.  You must have excellent written communication skills, the ability to write clearly and concisely at a level consistent with publication in highly regarded international journals and be able to organise and prioritise your own workload with minimal supervision.

You will be based at the South Kensington campus. For information on the group see: All applicants must be fluent in English.

How to apply:

Our preferred method of application is online via: (please select “job search” then enter the job title or vacancy reference number EN20170264LE into “keywords”). 

Please include:

  • A college application form
  • A full CV
  • A 1-page statement indicating what you see as interesting research issues relating to the above post and why your expertise is relevant.

For queries regarding the application process contact Fay Miller at: 

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