Video: The Data Science behind COVID Modelling

We are excited to share Dr Daniel Lawson’s (Compass CDT Co-Director) latest video where he will tell you about the Data Science behind Bristol’s COVID Modelling.

Mathematics has had a hidden role in predicting how we can best fight COVID-19. How is mathematics used with data science and machine learning? Why is modelling epidemics such a hard problem? How can we do it better next time? What will data science be able to do in the future, and how do you become a part of it?

Student Research Topics for 2020/21

This month, the Cohort 2 Compass students have started work on their mini projects and are establishing the direction of their own research within the CDT.

Supervised by the Institute for Statistical Science:

Anthony Stevenson will be working with Robert Allison on a project entitled Fast Bayesian Inference at Extreme Scale.  This project is in partnership with IBM Research.

Conor Crilly will be working with Oliver Johnson on a project entitled Statistical models for forecasting reliability. This project is in partnership with AWE.

Euan Enticott will be working with Matteo Fasiolo and Nick Whiteley on a project entitled Scalable Additive Models for Forecasting Electricity Demand and Renewable Production.  This project is in partnership with EDF.

Annie Gray will be working with Patrick Rubin-Delanchy and Nick Whiteley on a project entitled Exploratory data analysis of graph embeddings: exploiting manifold structure.

Ed Davis will be working with Dan Lawson and Patrick Rubin-Delanchy on a project entitled Graph embedding: time and space.  This project is in partnership with LV Insurance.

Conor Newton will be working with Henry Reeve and Ayalvadi Ganesh on a project entitled  Decentralised sequential decision making and learning.

The following projects are supervised in collaboration with the Institute for Statistical Science (IfSS) and our other internal partners at the University of Bristol:

Dan Ward will be working with Matteo Fasiolo (IfSS) and Mark Beaumont from the School of Biological Sciences on a project entitled Agent-based model calibration via regression-based synthetic likelihood. This project is in partnership with Improbable

Jack Simons will be working with Song Liu (IfSS) and Mark Beaumont (Biological Sciences) on a project entitled Novel Approaches to Approximate Bayesian Inference.

Georgie Mansell will be working with Haeran Cho (IfSS) and Andrew Dowsey from the School of Population Health Sciences and Bristol Veterinary School on a project entitled Statistical learning of quantitative data at scale to redefine biomarker discovery.  This project is in partnership with Sciex.

Shannon Williams will be working with Anthony Lee (IfSS) and Jeremy Phillips from the School of Earth Sciences on a project entitled Use and Comparison of Stochastic Simulations and Weather Patterns in probabilistic volcanic ash hazard assessments.

Sam Stockman  will be working with Dan Lawson (IfSS) and Maximillian Werner from the School of Geographical Sciences on a project entitled Machine Learning and Point Processes for Insights into Earthquakes and Volcanoes

What to know before studying Data Science

by Dr Daniel Lawson, Senior Lecturer in Data Science, University of Bristol and Compass CDT Co-Director 

For the first time in history, data is abundant and everywhere. This has created a new era for how we understand the world. Modern Data Science is new and changing the world, but it is rooted in cleverness throughout history.

What is Data Science used for today?

Data Science is ubiquitous today. Many choices about what to buy, what to watch, what news to read – these are either directly or indirectly influenced by recommender systems that match our history with that of others to show us something we might want. Machine Learning has revolutionised computer vision, automation has revolutionised industry and distribution, whilst self-driving cars are at least close. Knowledge is increasingly distributed, with distributed learning ranging from Wikipedia to spam detection.


Data Science for Vikings

Mathematics from Dr Daniel Lawson‘s group at the University of Bristol found that the World’s largest ever DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons reveals they weren’t all Scandinavian. (Link to Paper.)

Invaders, pirates, warriors – the history books taught us that Vikings were brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond.


Compass supervisors appointed as Heilbronn Data Science Chairs

Congratulations to Professor Anthony Lee – Unit Director for Statistical Computing 1 in the Compass CDT programme – and Professor Nick Whiteley – Compass CDT Director – who have been appointed to the position of Heilbronn Chairs in Data Science. Anthony and Nick have distinguished themselves as internationally outstanding leaders in their field and these appointments support our position as one of the top centres for statistical and data science in the UK.

Professors Anthony Lee and Nick Whiteley
Professor Anthony Lee and Professor Nick Whiteley are both Compass CDT supervisors

Tokyo research scientist gives series of data science lectures

Pierre Alquier (Research Scientist Riken AIP project, Tokyo) will visit the University of Bristol School of Mathematics from November 25 to December 6 2019.

As a visitor to the Heilbronn Institute he gave a series of data science lectures to Compass students on 27 November 2019

  • Introduction to the variational approach and examples: Mixture models, matrix completions and recommendations, deep learning
  • Theoretical analysis of variational methods

He will also present additional lectures during his visit on areas such as:

  • A Generalization Bound for Online Variational Inference

Mathieu Gerber, Compass Training Co-ordinator commented: “In his lectures Pierre has provided and proved one of the first general result about the validity of variational methods, which are popular tools to approximate high-dimensional posterior distributions”

Compass welcomes first cohort

Twelve industry partners joined our new students at our Centre for Doctoral Training launch event.

The EPSRC CDT Compass welcomed its new students and external partners from industry and government agencies for the inaugural Partner Day on 1 October 2019.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council awarded the School of Mathematics over £6 million to launch the new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).   The first intake of nine students registered in September to embark on this innovative 4-year PhD programme which combines training and research to address challenges across science, industry, and society.

Representatives from the external partner organisations visited the newly remodelled home of the School of Mathematics in the Fry Building.   The Compass team learned about partner’s work in Data Science ranging from smart apps for mathematical education to forecasting tools for energy systems.  We welcomed representatives from:

Adarga | AWE| CheckRisk | EDF | GSK | LV | Office for National Statistics | Malvern Panalytical | UK Space Agency | SCIEX| SPARX | Trainline


Dr. Nick Whiteley, Compass Director commented: “I am thrilled to see our new students embark on the Compass programme and take their first steps in research. It was a pleasure to welcome our partners to the wonderful Fry Building, where they shared thought-provoking insights into the work they do and the statistical challenges they face. Our partners play a key role in enriching the training Compass students receive and the research they conduct.”

Jasmine Grimsley from Office for National Statistics said:

“The Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics plans for work with Compass Students on projects that use data science for public good.  Students have the opportunity to come and work with us on industry placement or be able to work on real world problems for their theses topic.”

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