Archiv der Kategorie: Miscellaneous

A busy year and a lot of plans

What an incredible academic year this has been. Since my last blog post I have become Acting Head for the School of Computing and Technology and been busy with a multitude of things: developing a new portfolio of undergraduate courses in Computing and adding to the Technology portfolio, developing the postgraduate portfolio by adding internship options to most MSc courses, connecting the School with the other departments and academic schools at the University of West London, connecting the School with the local community and developing relations with businesses in West London.

The highlight of this academic year for me and my proudest moment was when the School took part in the Graduation Summer Showcase for the first time and got great feedback. Alongside graduates of the London College of Music and the Ealing School of Art, Design and Media, some of our graduates presented their final year projects. There is so much more to showcase in the future, and we will.

This week will be pivotal in my career and determine the course of it for the next few years. I have a lot of plans for the School and a lot of talented and great colleagues to help me realise them. I’ll keep you posted.


The new name of my research group: Centre for Intelligent Computing

sigpi-logo-schwarz.pngWhen I joined UWL in September 2011, I ‘inherited’ the Centre for Model-driven Software Engineering. Renamed, Centre for Model-based Software Engineering and Explanation-aware Computing, it set out to combine the two strands of research, software engineering and artificial intelligence. In the light of my research group’s development since then I came to the conclusion that the name of the centre had become an ill  fit. In order to raise the profile of the respective research I named it Centre for Intelligent Computing (CIC).

Both centres, the Centre for Model-based Software Engineering and the new CIC,  cooperate closely. Together we will further develop our research vision, the Smart University, in which, among other topics, the centres employ sensor technology to collect data on room utilisation and link this data with other knowledge sources.

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

Creative people are not different from less creative people. Creative people just find ways to get in a certain mood, in a certain way of operating. They are playful and child-like. They play with ideas and explore them. Most of us know this. In the following video, of which I summarised just some points, John Cleese talks about creativity. It is well worth watching.

At work we function typically in two modes: in an open and a closed mode. In closed mode we act purposeful. We are less humorous, slightly anxious and impatient. We are focused and want to get things done. In open mode we act without specific purpose. We are curious, playful, humorous. We should alternate between the two modes as the open mode helps us solve problems and the closed mode helps us implement solutions.

John Cleese describes five factors that are required to be creative: Space, time, time (sic!), confidence, and humour.

  1. Space: We need a place for ourselves where we are undisturbed.
  2. Time: We need to give ourselves a certain time frame with a certain duration. About 90 min are best as one needs about 30 min too settle down and let go of pressing issues. He discourages longer sessions as we normally need a break after 90 min anyway.
    Set boundaries of space and time for yourself! Separate yourself from regular life and create an „oasis“.
  3. Time: „Play“ with a problem long enough. Give your mind enough time to come up with an original solution. Daydream about the problem at hand. Tolerate discomfort of having not solved a problem longer. Ask yourself always: „When does the decision needs to be taken?“. Do not hasten decision. But be decisive in the end.
  4. Confidence: To play means to experiment. Be open to anything that happens. Don’t be frightened to make errors. You can’t be spontaneous within reason.
  5. Humour: Humour gets us faster from the closed mode to the open mode. Don’t mix „seriousness“ with „solemnity“.

The BCS Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence

The Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence (SGAI) of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is one of the leading AI societies in Europe. SGAI is very active in promoting the topic of artificial intelligence by organising various events such as the annual international AI conference series in Cambridge. I am happy to be now a (co-opted) member of the SGAI committee. This gives me the opportunity to raise the profile of the School of Computing and Technology at the University of West London and insights in upcoming activities such as the following at the BCS London Office (near Covent Garden):

  • Real AI Day: An event designed to showcase practical applications of artificial intelligence. Friday,  5 October 2012, 9am to 5pm
  • BCS Machine Intelligence Competition
    Friday,  5 October 2012, 6pm to 8pm
  • One-day conference on Knowledge Discovery in Databases (UK KDD). Friday, 19 October 2012, 9am to 5pm.
UK KDD will be co-organised by Miltos Petridis, Dan Neagu, Max Bremer, and myself. Check out the website for more details.

London calling

The University of West London (formerly Thames Valley University) offered me the position of Professor in Computing at their School of Computing and Technology, starting on 1 September 2011. Of course, I accepted 🙂

Going to London is a dream come true for my wife and me, and it’s absolutely fabulous that it is in sync with the publication of our first novel Lux Domini.

With a little help of my friends at WordPress ;-) 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 131 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 523kb.

The busiest day of the year was October 1st with 56 views. The most popular post that day was About TRB.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,, Private networks, and Google Reader.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for beautiful diagrams, future desktop, mycbr, dialog explanation, and 3d desktop.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


About TRB July 2006


Beautiful diagrams with OmniGraffle August 2006
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Future desktop user interface July 2006
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Report: 18th International Conference on Case-Based Reasoning July 2010


Explanation, Dialog, and Communication: Supporting the Use of Complex Information Systems December 2006

New job

It is official. I am now visiting professor at the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Hildesheim, where I follow Klaus-Dieter Althoff who continues to work there as professor of artificial intelligence. As head of the newly founded research group Explanation-aware Computing Systems I will continue my research work on explanation. This winter term I will give the following courses (in German):

  • Database systems (3 h, lecture with exercises and practical course)
  • Explanation-aware computing systems (3 h, lecture)
  • Reading, writing, presenting (seminar)
  • Explanations in knowledge-based systems (seminar)

For the time being I stay involved in the software cluster project „EMERGENT – Grundlagen emergenter Software“ where I co-lead the task on explanation-capabilities for production processes and supervise the phd work of Björn Forcher. I also continue to work on the design of the open-source case-based reasoning tool myCBR, which is now further developed at the newly founded DFKI Competence Center Case-Based Reasoning headed by Klaus-Dieter Althoff.