Dave Cliff, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bristol, is directing a 5-year 15m GBP research and training initiative for the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), that officially started in October 2007. The Initiative aims to tackle problems in the science and engineering of Large-Scale Complex IT Systems (LSCITS), and has been planned by EPSRC as a national strategic investment, in response to the needs of current and future industrial and public-sector IT systems. Dave was appointed director-designate in October 2005, and has spent his time since then in a wide-ranging consultation process, interacting with academic researchers, government, and potential industrial partners. Dave formed a consortium of leading professors from the universities of Leeds, Oxford, St Andrews, and York, who have worked together to specify a research programme (Phase One of which runs 2007-2012), and an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) training programme planned to run 2008-2014. These two programmes represent a combined total effort of more than 250 person-years, and will graduate over 40 doctoral-level students.
"Dealing with complexity in large-scale IT systems is rapidly being seen as a major priority in industry and in government...", says Dave, "...we are increasingly able to create IT systems on which major societal systems (such as, for example, the UK National Health Service) are becoming critically dependent on, and that are perhaps simply too complex to manage, or perhaps even to understand. We need to combine the best research from a number of disciplines and sub-disciplines to develop new tools and techniques for designing and dealing with LSCITS, and also to train the next generation of scientists and engineers that will be working on these systems". He continues: "I'm hugely excited by what we have planned. We have world-class academics in the LSCITS Consortium, and we are working very closely with leading-edge industry in a number of sectors. For me, there is no better place than the University of Bristol to be directing this from. The Computer Science department here is just fantastic, and there are also great colleagues and similar projects being run from other Bristol departments and faculties, with whom I expect the LSCITS people to interact with closely."
Further details of the LSCITS Initiative are available from its website at http://www.lscits.org.
Dave Cliff joined the University of Bristol in July 2007, having previously held faculty positions at the universities of Southampton and Sussex in the UK, and at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab in the USA. He also spent several years working in industry as a research scientist for Hewlett-Packard Labs Europe, and then as a director for Deustche Bank's foreign exchange trading in the City of London.