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UEL Psychology Seminar Series – Interdisciplinary Psychology and Computer Science Seminar

Interdisciplinary Psychology and Computer Science Seminar


Date:   25th April 2018

Time:   2:00 – 3:00 pm       

Room: Arthur Edwards Building, room 1.01


Machine Learning for Optimization: Creating Personalized Concert Festival Schedules

Professor J. Christopher Beck, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto


The power of off-the-shelf machine learning tools combined with the availability of data is changing how organizations and individuals make decisions. As an illustration, we address the creation of a personalized schedule for a large-scale music festival. Popular music festivals can exceed 600 shows per day across dozens of venues. With many artists performing at overlapping times in distant locations, preparing a personal schedule is a challenging task. Equally problematic is understanding a user’s preferences over the artists and shows without an unrealistic amount of data entry by the user. Using a small set of stated user preferences and available online tags, in real-time, we learn a user’s preferences over all artists. These preferences are then used to formulate a combinatorial optimization problem to provide optimal personal schedule. We evaluate our web-based system on a large set of real festival timetables, demonstrating that we can learn preferences and provide optimal solutions in about 10 seconds on average, making our system suitable for online use. This is joint work with Eldan Cohen at the University of Toronto.



  1. Christopher Beck is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. Chris’ MSc and PhD degrees both come for the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, in the area of Artificial Intelligence. His research interests include scheduling, constraint programming, hybrid optimization techniques, mixed integer programming, AI planning, reasoning under uncertainty, and queueing theory. He has published over 100 papers in international journals and conferences in these areas. Chris has served as the President of the Executive Council for the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling and held editorial responsibilities at the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, Constraints, the Journal of Scheduling, and the Knowledge Engineering Review. He has been the program chair or co-chair of the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling, the International Conference on the Integration of AI and OR Technology in Constraint Programming, and the International Conference on the Principles and Practice of Constraint Programming.


Session Chairs:  Dr. Saeed Sharif, School of Computer Science, and Professor Cynthia Fu, School of Psychology


International Women’s Day – a celebration and a call to #press for progress!!

International Women’s Day is both a collective day of global celebration as well as a call for gender parity; this year the theme was #press for progress.  Given that 2018 marks the centennial since the first, but not all, women were given the right to vote, we can recognise progress that has been made. However, we cannot be complacent and the gender pay gap and lack of representation of women in leadership in HE are clear evidence that we have a way to go. 81% of governing bodies and 78% of VCs are men and when we look at representation intersectionally black and minority ethnic backgrouds in leadership positions is under 1%. (Read more:

Jess Moody’s (ECU Senior Policy Adviser) WONKHE blog post  provides a good oversight of progress already made in the HE sector as well as the on-going need for progress. She recommends a two pronged approach; one to proactively support women through networking, mentoring and development programmes and another which focuses on the structural changes needed, through the Athena SWAN self-assessment process and equal pay audits which enable embedded action planning. To find out what UEL is doing along both these strands, please see our Athena SWAN intranet pages.  If you would like to get involved, please contact

International Women’s Day was recognised at UEL through an exhibition on each campus (Docklands, USS and Stratford Water Lane) as well as within other events such as the UEL’s Volunteering Awards. In case you missed the exhibitions, which included nominations from UEL students and staff of women who have inspired them, there is a sample below. In Stratford, we were able to celebrate Women in STEM in particular through Kate Hodgkin’s, Professor of Cultural History at UEL, celebration of the achievements of her grandmother, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, is the only British woman to have won a Nobel Prize for science.

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Reminder: Sir Peter Scott’s seminar on ‘Fair Access and Social Mobility: Lessons from Scotland’ – UEL Stratford Campus,  ED2.04 on 7th March, 5-6.30 pm.

This is a reminder of Professor Sir Peter Scott’s seminar on ‘Fair Access and Social Mobility: Lessons from Scotland’ to be held at UEL Stratford Campus, Cass School of Education and Communities Rm. ED2.04 on Wednesday 7th March, 5-6.30 pm.

This UEL seminar will be Peter’s premier public talk on Fair Access in England this year, following publication of his first Annual Report, ‘Laying the Foundations for Fair Access’ in Scotland 2017.

This event is free and open to both staff and students. I expect the seminar will facilitate interesting debates on fair access and social mobility from a comparative perspective’.

For the seminar blurb, please see:


International Women’s Day – Exhibitions, refreshments and networking

This year, we will recognise International Women’s Day (8th March 2018) through ‘Women who Inspire’ nominations from UEL staff and students. Exhibitions will be held on each campus in the following spaces:

Docklands Campus, SportsDock, ground floor cafe area. There will be refreshments and informal networking from noon to 1 pm.

University Square Stratford – School of Business & Law are hosting a panel discussion: ‘Female UEL Graduates and Students Driving Innovation and Sustainability in organisations and their own businesses’ in USS.G.19-20, 1pm start followed by exhibition, refreshments and networking from 2pm.

Stratford Water Lane, featuring British Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, grandmother of UEL Cultural Studies Professor Kate Hodgkin and celebrating Women in STEM. There will be refreshments and informal networking from 4 to 5pm ground floor foyer of the Cass/Education building.

Follow on Twitter: #PressforProgress


Economic and Social Research Council: CONACYT Newton call for collaborative research – Smart Cities in Mexico

The Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) invite joint applications for collaborative projects between Mexico and the UK which seek to enhance understanding of Smart Cities. (Closing date 3 May 2018 in UK and 4 May 2018 in Mexico).

Link to Call: