University of Edinburgh School of Informatics

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University of Edinburgh School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh School of Informatics logo.jpg
Established1998 (1998)
Parent institution
University of Edinburgh
Head of SchoolJane Hillston[1]
Academic staff
Administrative staff

The School of Informatics is an academic unit of the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, responsible for research, teaching, outreach and commercialisation in informatics. It was created in 1998 from the former Department of Artificial Intelligence, the Centre for Cognitive Science and the Department of Computer Science, along with the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI) and the Human Communication Research Centre.[citation needed]

Research in the School of Informatics draws on multiple disciplines. The school is particularly known for research in the areas of artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, systems biology, mathematical logic and theoretical computer science; but also contributes to many other areas of informatics.

The school was ranked 15th in the World in the latest 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), successor to Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), ranking.[4] The School of Informatics was ranked 12th in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2014.


Professor Philip Wadler
Professor Austin Tate
Professor Gordon Plotkin
Professor Wenfei Fan
Professor Alan Bundy
Professor Leslie Valiant winner of the Turing Award in 2010 (aka Nobel prize in Computer Science) held a teaching post at the University of Edinburgh
Professor Peter Dayan was awarded the Rumelhart Prize in 2012 and The Brain Prize in 2017. He completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1991.[5]

The School of Informatics was awarded a 5*A[6] in the UK HEFCE's 2001 RAE, the only computer science department in the country to achieve this highest possible rating.[6] In the 2008 RAE, the School's "Quality Profile" was 35/50/15/0/0, which means that of the over 100 Full-time equivalent (FTE) staff research outputs evaluated, 35% were found "world-leading (4*)" and 50% "internationally excellent (3*)".[7] These figures can be interpreted in a number of ways, but place the School first by volume and tied for second (following Cambridge with 45/45/10/0/0) by percentage of research rated 3* or 4*.[8] The School is generally considered world-leading, standing with the foremost U.S. institutes, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine translation, and theoretical computer science.

The School has a number of research Institutes:

Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation: ANC[edit]

ANC[9] investigates theoretical and empirical study of brain processes and artificial learning systems, drawing on neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, computational science, mathematics and statistics.

Artificial Intelligence and its Applications Institute: AIAI[edit]

Artificial Intelligence and its Applications Institute (AIAI)[10] works on the foundations of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, and their application to real-world problems.

Institute for Language, Cognition, and Computation: ILCC[edit]

ILCC performs research on all aspects of natural language processing, drawing on machine learning, statistical modeling, and computational, psychological, and linguistic theories of communication among humans and between humans and machines using text, speech and other modalities.[11]

Institute for Computing Systems Architecture: ICSA[edit]

ICSA[12] performs research on architecture and engineering of future computing systems: performance and scalability; innovative algorithms, architectures, compilers, languages and protocols.

Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour: IPAB[edit]

IPAB[13] links computational action, perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to real or virtual worlds: statistical machine learning, computer vision, mobile and humanoid robotics, motor control, graphics and visualization.

Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science: LFCS[edit]

The LFCS[14] Develops and applies foundational understanding of computation and communication: formal models, mathematical theories, and software tools.

Senior academic staff and alumni[edit]

Senior academic staff[15] include:



Alumni of the school of informatics include:


The Edinburgh Cowgate fire of December 2002 destroyed a number of buildings, including 80 South Bridge, which housed around one third of the school and its renowned AI library.[citation needed] Space was quickly made available in the University's Appleton Tower as a replacement.[when?]

Until June 2008, the School was dispersed over five sites: three in the George Square Campus: Appleton Tower, Buccleuch Place, Forrest Hill; and two at King's Buildings: James Clerk Maxwell Building, and the Darwin Building.

In June and July 2008, the School's research moved into its new home, The Informatics Forum. This building for interaction designed by Bennetts Associates, Reaich and Hall and Buro Happold, now[when?] houses some 500 researchers, including staff and graduate students. Construction began in October 2005, and the Forum's completion in July 2008 finally brought the School's researchers together, under one roof, some ten years after its inception.

In August 2018, the School gained another research space in the form of the Bayes Centre, a purpose-built data science and Artificial Intelligence hub shared with multiple other data science and informatics groups,[18] as well as the University's Maxwell Graduate Institute, encompassing the PhD research output of the mathematics departments at both Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.


  1. ^ "Contact us". University of Edinburgh School of Informatics. 11 September 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Staff Headcount & Full Time Equivalent Statistics (FTE) as at Oct 17". Human Resources, The University of Edinburgh. October 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "University of Edinburgh Factsheet 2017/2018" (PDF). Governance & Strategic Planning, The University of Edinburgh. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Research Excellence Framework 2014: Institutions Ranked By Subject" (PDF).
  5. ^ Dayan, Peter Samuel (1991). Reinforcing connectionism: learning the statistical way. (PhD thesis). hdl:1842/14754. EThOS Free to read
  6. ^ a b "RAE 2001 : Results".
  7. ^ "RAE 2008 : Quality profiles".
  8. ^ "Informatics News: RAE 2008 results: Informatics and Computer Science".
  9. ^ "Welcome — ANC - Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation".
  10. ^ "AIAI - InfWeb".
  11. ^ "ILCC - InfWeb".
  12. ^ Wiggins, Geraint. "Profile - Institute for Computing Systems Architecture".
  13. ^ "IPAB - InfWeb".
  14. ^ "Welcome to LFCS — LFCS".
  15. ^ "People". The University of Edinburgh.
  16. ^ Hinton, Geoffrey Everest (1977). Relaxation and its role in vision. (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/8121. OCLC 18656113. EThOS Free to read
  17. ^ Anon (2014). "Shadbolt, Prof. Nigel Richard". Who's Who. (online edition via Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U245873. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  18. ^ "Groups within Bayes Centre".

Coordinates: 55°56′40″N 3°11′14″W / 55.94444°N 3.18722°W / 55.94444; -3.18722