The universities of Cambridge Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL have been chosen to lead the Alan Turing Institute, which will promote advanced mathematics, computer science, and big data in the UK.
The Institute is being coordinated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which funds research and postgraduate training across the UK. Through the council, the Government will provide around £42 million over a period of five years.
The five universities selected to lead the Alan Turing Institute were announced today by Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Cable said: ‘Alan Turing’s genius played a pivotal role in cracking the codes that helped us win the Second World War. It is therefore only right that our country’s top universities are chosen to lead this new institute named in his honour.’
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s chief executive said: “The Alan Turing Institute will draw on the best of the best academic talent in the country. It will use the power of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to analyse Big Data in many ways, including the ability to improve online security. Big Data is going to play a central role in how we run our industries, businesses and services. Economies that invest in research are more likely to be strong and resilient; the Alan Turing Institute will help us be both.”
The EPSRC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC spends around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.
When the institute was announced in March 2014 details on the project were scarce and questions were raised on whether the funding of £42 million would be sufficient to ‘help position the country as a world leader in the analysis and application of big data and algorithm research.’
However it has now been announced that the institute will be located in London with its headquarters based at the British Library, the centre of London’s Knowledge Quarter. The prestigious name and links to top UK universities will help the institute to bring together leaders in advanced mathematics and computing science from the lead universities and other partners.
It was also announced that the selected university partners will contribute further funding. In addition, the Institute will seek to partner with other business and government bodies, these other sources of funding could be key to driving progress at the institute.
However it remains to be seen whether the Institute will have its own cluster and storage system to carry out this advanced mathematical, big data research or rely on the resources of its partners.
UCL for instance is getting a new shared data centre in collaboration with a number of London universities. Cambridge University has its own, very energy efficient, GPU based cluster called Wilkes, named after another pioneer in early computing research. Oxford has its Advanced Research Computing services which provide a number of smaller clusters including a 1728 core Dell system and an SGI ICE cluster with 640 cores.
Sign up for our insideHPC Newsletter.