The Chameleon Researcher: Succeeding in Academia and Industry

Emma Hart, Nature-Inspired Intelligent Systems Group, Edinburgh Napier University


As EC researchers, we spend a lot of our research time pushing at boundaries and trying to develop novel research that will result in a new GECCO paper or a paper in a leading journal. Working with industry however often requires us to put on another hat – companies are not necessarily interested that algorithms are cutting-edge, and they are even less interested in how the algorithm works. They are interested in whether it reliably solves their problem, whether it can deal with the idiosyncrasies of their problem, whether the code will integrate seamlessly with their systems, whether their users will be able interact with the algorithm, and whether they still have some degree of choice or control in deciding how or when to use the outputs

In this talk I will discuss some examples of work with companies I have previously been involved in, and some lessons learned from this in terms of adapting my research to industry:  in particular I will talk about the use of interfaces to allow the user to engage with the optimisation system as it runs and to sift through solutions.

Emma Hart Emma Hart (Bild: Emma Hart)


Prof. Emma Hart is a full professor at Edinburgh Napier University where she leads the Nature-Inspired Intelligent Systems group. She has an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford, an MSc in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD, also University of Edinburgh, on building immune-inspired systems for optimisation and learning.  She moved to Edinburgh Napier University in 2000 as a lecturer, and was promoted to a Chair in 2008 in Natural Computation. She is active world-wide in the field of Evolutionary Computation, is Editor-in-Chief of Evolutionary Computation (MIT Press), General Chair of PPSN 2016, and as a Track Chair at GECCO for several years. She has given keynotes at IEE CEC 2019, IJCCI 2017, EURO 2016 and UKCI 2015, as well as invited talks and tutorials at many Universities and international conferences. She is also an elected member of the ACM SIGEVO Executive Board and an invited member of the UK Operations Research Society Research Panel.

Her research applies hyper-heuristic and meta-heuristic approaches within a range of domains, e.g. logistics, routing, packing and scheduling and often involves industrial partners: she has worked on a number of knowledge-exchange projects as well as providing consultancy in the logistics industry.