RAS CDT student wins top prize in Student Research Competition

Congratulations to Edinburgh Centre for Robotics student Siobhan Duncan (2016 cohort) who was awarded first place in the ACM SIGAPP Symposium on Applied Computing Student Research Competition held in Cyprus in April for her work titled “Bringing Stigmergy into the Real World”

Stigmergy is a form of indirect communication that is found throughout the natural world. Simply put, an action carried out by an agent creates a trace in the environment that can then be sensed by the same or another agent.  This has the probability to prompt some further action and this feedback loop is a key component in coordinating decentralised swarm systems.

Siobhan’s work looks at applying this concept in novel ways, both by taking advantage of modern technologies such as the cloud, as well as conceptually moving away from more traditional pheromone-style “I was here” approaches and towards leaving richer traces of information such as sensor and decision-making data.

The competition, sponsored by Microsoft, invites graduate students to submit original and unpublished work for knowledge exchange and feedback from the research community. Initial submission takes the form of a two-page extended abstract that emphasises the innovation behind the student’s work.

Eighteen students, funded by a USD500 travel award from Microsoft, were invited to present a poster at the conference from fifty-seven abstract submissions. During the poster session a panel of five judges asked each student about their work, marking them on oral presentation, poster quality and research methods. This resulted in a shortlist of five students from Scotland, Israel, Pakistan, Iran and Spain who were invited to give a 10-minute presentation on their work to the main conference chairs. The finalists were invited to the conference banquet where the top three prizes were announced with Siobhan winning first prize, followed by Waqas Khawaja in 2nd place and Asaf Fux in 3rd place.