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Studentship - Testing AI tasks within Autonomous Vehicles

Fully funded PhD position at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh and Codeplay Software Ltd.

Location: 3.5-year PhD, University of the Edinburgh (School of Informatics). Working closely with Codeplay Software Ltd. (Edinburgh)

Closing date for applications: April 30th 2022

Funding:The Data Lab Industrial Doctorate and Codeplay Ltd.

PhD start date: October 1st 2022 but an earlier date can be negotiated as well

We are looking to recruit a UK/EU PhD student at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh to work on developing testing techniques for Perception AI tasks running on hardware accelerators like GPUs, FPGAs.

Automotive manufacturers are competing to develop autonomous vehicles (AVs), which promise to save many lives on our roads in the future. Detection of vehicles, lanes and obstacles is accomplished by using artificial intelligence (AI) based perception systems and there is a pressing need for testing the safety of these systems to ensure they perform better than human drivers. Owing to the enormous amount of sensor data and processing power required, perception AI tasks heavily rely on high-end hardware accelerators like GPUs to parallelise basic machine learning operations.

Much of the existing literature for testing perception AI tasks has focussed on improving the training and testing datasets for the AI models such as generating scenes for adverse weather conditions, and adversarial test image generation. These techniques, however, have failed to consider safety violations caused by interactions of the AI applications with the underlying computing platform, namely hardware accelerators like Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).

There are three main issues

  • Faults in AI task acceleration
  • Timing requirements and
  • Error handling

The PhD candidate will tackle these issues with the aim of providing testing capabilities for AI tasks running on different AV platforms and accelerators. Objectives include

  • Testing and quality measurement of AI tasks on accelerators
  • Specifying and testing timing requirements
  • Specifying and testing the error handler

The PhD position is jointly funded by Codeplay Software Ltd (https://www.codeplay.com/) and the Datalab (https://thedatalab.com/). The student will be jointly supervised by Dr. Ajitha Rajan at the School of Informatics in the University of Edinburgh (https://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/arajan/) and by Dr. Mehdi Goli at Codeplay Software Ltd.

The successful candidate will join an excellent team of researchers at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, ranked #16 in the world by QS University Rankings 2022. The School attracts students from around the world to study in our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and currently has approximately 1000

undergraduate students, 320 MSc students and 350 PhD students. The School of Informatics is recognised for the employability of its graduates (demand exceeds supply), its contributions to entrepreneurship, and the excellence of its research. The candidate will be supervised by Dr. Ajitha Rajan who is a Reader in the School of Informatics. Dr. Rajan's research interests are in the area of software testing and verification. Her work has been published at various international conferences in software engineering and testing. She is the Associate editor for the IET Software Journal. Dr. Rajan has been awarded grants from EPSRC, Royal Society, H2020, Facebook, GCHQ, Huawei, and SICSA. She was selected as one of the winners of the Facebook Testing and Verification Award in 2018 and 2019.

The successful candidate will also spend part of their PhD time at Codeplay Software. The company is headquartered in Edinburgh, with over 80 employees and is a leader in software portability and the development of software tools and supporting technologies for heterogeneous multi-core processor systems. Building on its proven expertise in games, mobile phone and HPC software, Codeplay has developed open standards and new products that address the pain points of deploying Artificial Intelligence applications into new HPC platforms and mass-produced devices, with a focus on the automotive sector, specifically Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AV)

Eligibility and Requirement

Entry into this exciting research programme is competitive and will take account of qualifications, aspirations and experience. We are looking for the following essential and desirable skills in applicants:

Required Skills

The ideal candidate is a self-motivated individual who can work through a problem from start to finish, meet deadlines as required to support software projects, and has the ability to work under pressure. You will be working on technology that is seldom announced to the public and could be several years away from public release, so confidentiality is critical. You should be able to work both independently and collaboratively within teams of varying skill sets and expertise. You should be welcoming towards, and able to adapt to, the introduction of new technologies, responsibilities and projects, as Codeplay works with cutting-edge technology and takes on a diverse range of projects.

  • UG or MSc degrees in Computer Science or a similarly named Minimum of 2.1 (Merit) in their UG and/or MSc degrees is expected.
  • Strong programming skills, preferably in C++ and Python
  • Good communication and technical writing skills

Beneficial Skills

Knowledge and/or experience of any of the following would be useful for the role, but are not essential. You must be able to learn new skills, but will be given support from Codeplay's team to get you up to speed.

  • Compiler knowledge
  • Deep learning knowledge, particularly in computer vision algorithms like object detection and image segmentation
  • Knowledge of hardware accelerators like GPUs
  • Background in software testing or software engineering

Application Guidance

Applicants should follow the link below to apply via the University’s admissions portal (EUCLID) and apply for the following programme: Informatics: LFCS: Theory and Foundations of Computer Science, Databases, Software and Systems Modelling with a start date of 01 OCTOBER 2022.

Applicants should state “Testing AI Tasks within Autonomous Vehicles” and the research supervisor (Ajitha Rajan) in their application and Research Proposal document.

Complete applications submitted by April 30th 2022 will receive full consideration; after that date applications will be considered until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is 01 OCT 2022.

Applicants must submit:

  • All degree transcripts and certificates (and certified translations if applicable).
  • Evidence of English Language capability (where applicable).
  • A short research proposal (max 2 pages).
  • A full CV and cover letter describing your background, suitability for the PhD, and research interests (max 2 pages).
  • Two references (note that it the applicant’s responsibility to ensure reference letters are received before the deadline).

Only complete applications (i.e. those that are not missing the above documentation) will progress forward to Academic Selectors for further consideration.




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