School of Informatics at University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh has a long tradition of work in Artificial Intelligence, going back to the 1960s when it was one of the few centres in the world working on AI and its applications. Its School of Informatics is a founding member of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Of the 6 research institutes in the School, 4 are principally involved in AI research. In a nutshell:

The Artificial Intelligence and its Applications Institute’s (AIAI) focuses on the foundations of artificial intelligence and intelligent collaborative systems, and their application to real-world problems in healthcare, scientific collaboration, social computing, fintech,  manufacturing, and others. Noteworthy research in AIAI involves agent-based reasoning, theorem proving and formal modelling/verification, probabilistic reasoning, network science, and explainable AI.

The Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation (ANC) fosters the study of adaptive processes in both artificial and biological systems. It encourages interdisciplinary and collaborative work involving the traditional disciplines of neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, computational science, mathematics and statistics. Noteworthy research involves human-in-the-loop machine learning, probabilistic/Bayesian modelling and reasoning, deep learning, and neuroinformatics.

The Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation (ILCC) is dedicated to the pursuit of basic and applied research on computational approaches to language, communication, and cognition. This includes natural language processing and computational linguistics, spoken language processing, information extraction, retrieval and presentation, and assistive technology. 

The Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour (IPAB) focuses on links between computational perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to external worlds. The domains include bio-mimetic robotics, computer-based visual perception, dynamic control of the interaction of robotic systems with their environment or each other, and agent-based interaction with other agents or humans. 

Our extensive portfolio of AI research has resulted in a number of recent, significant awards to support large-scale endeavours such as:

The £2.3m New Technologies of Care (NTC) programme, which is one of the main research themes of the Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC), a multi-disciplinary £20m initiative, to develop high‐quality data‐ and knowledge-driven, personalised and affordable care. The NTC project is led by Jacques Fleuriot (AIAI), who is also the AI Lead for the £3.9m programme on Artificial Intelligence and Multimorbidity: Clustering in Individuals, Space and Clinical Context Project. Both of these projects use AI techniques ranging from machine learning to knowledge graphs, automated reasoning and process modelling to help improve the quality and safety of health and care. 

The £3.2m  Governance and Regulation Research Node of the Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Programme, led by Subramanian Ramamoorthy (IPAB), will develop a novel framework for the certification, assurance and legality of TAS, and address whether autonomous systems can be used safely. The central aim of the programme is to ensure that autonomous systems are ‘socially beneficial’, protect people’s personal freedoms and safeguard physical and mental wellbeing.

Edinburgh Laboratory for Integrated Artificial Intelligence (ELIAI), led by Mirella Lapata (ILCC), is an interdisciplinary research hub, which aims to integrate expertise in different strands of AI within the School of Informatics. Researchers within the Lab work to develop AI models with reasoning abilities that go beyond pattern matching and show how these improve applications in the fields of machine learning, robotics, computer vision, and natural language processing.

Making Systems Answer: Dialogical Design as a Bridge for Responsibility Gaps in Trustworthy Autonomous Systems is a multi-disciplinary project that will address responsibility gaps in autonomous systems. The project involves Nadin Kokciyan (AIAI) and Michael Rovatsos (AIAI) and will draw on research in philosophy, cognitive science, law and AI to develop new ways for autonomous system developers, users and regulators to bridge responsibility gaps by boosting the systems’ answerability.

The School of Informatics also hosts two new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) that deliver integrated, interdisciplinary AI training:

The CDT in Natural Language Processing aims to equip students with the fundamental skills for advanced research in NLP and language science, giving them foundations in: linguistics, machine learning, statistics, algorithms, programming, working with other modalities such as vision and design, ethics, and responsible innovation as they apply to NLP systems.

The CDT in Biomedical AI stands at the intersection of AI, biomedicine and social sciences. It developed from the realisation that AI technologies will play a central role leveraging data to transform our understanding and practice of biomedicine. Delivering such a step change requires a new cadre of scientists operating at the intersection of computer science and biomedicine, building AI systems which are effective, ethical and empowering to scientists and users alike.

Facts & Figures 

  • 845 members: 170 senior researchers, 125 postdocs, 550 PhD students
  • Annual budget Around £25m EUR
  • Areas of AI research
    • Machine Learning
    • Automated Reasoning
    • Search and Optimisation
    • Planning and Scheduling
    • Multi-Agent Systems
    • Knowledge Representation
    • Natural Language Processing
    • Computer Vision
    • Robotics
    • AI Hardware & High Performance Computing
    • Human-Machine Interaction
    • Ethical, Legal, Social Issues
  • Areas of AI applications
    • advanced healthcare
    • smart industry (production, services, logistics, …)
    • next-generation learning and education
    • accelerated scientific research
    • financial markets and services (incl. fintech)
    • public sector and citizen services (incl. govtech)
    • safety and security
  • Contact
    • Jacques Fleuriot, Director of the Artificial Intelligence and its Applications Institute (AIAI), School of Informatics, jdf(at)
    • Alan Bundy, Professor of Automated Reasoning, School of Informatics, bundy(at)

(as of March 2022)