Past Events


Symposium and Workshop: Ocean Cleanup

The Institute for Risk and Uncertainty at the University of Liverpool is planning to host a symposium and workshop on risk tradeoffs, with the removal of plastic pollution from oceans such as by The Ocean Cleanup project as the main example.

There will be two related events over three days. The symposium will introduce and explore the issues from many perspectives, including those of proponents from environmental groups and ocean ecologists. The workshop will be a collaborative event in which we will articulate risk analyses to address those issues. These analyses will employ stochastic demography, including uncertainty propagation for abundances, vital rates, and other variables that are known imprecisely.

We believe that finding quantitative answers to the questions of whether and by how much the benefits from plastics removal outweigh the potential risks to ocean organisms, and how they compare with harms from unabated accumulation of oceanic microplastics, can only be answered by modern quantitative environmental risk analysis at the interface between engineering and ecology.

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Should we remove plastics from the ocean's surface?

Is skimming off the top of the ocean a good idea? The startup firm Ocean Cleanup is already at work collecting plastics from the ocean's surface. Are we over-engineering this? Is the effect on plants and animals there benign or adverse? Is this greenwashing? Matt Spencer will present his model for the effects on sea life. This is a warm-up event for the symposium in December.

Lunch will be provided. Please register to attend by submitting your name below or email if you want to receive email relevant notifications.

Imprecise Tuesday: Risk Governance in China

Visiting Professor Cao Huimin will discuss risk governance next Tuesday, 2pm, in Risk Institute Seminar Room in the Chadwick Building.

Governance refers to the actions and institutions by which decisions are taken and authority is exerted. Risk governance refers to identifying, characterising, mitigating and communicating risks via governance mechanisms. Good risk governance lets societies minimise negative consequences of risks such as storms, technological failures, economic disruption, or civil unrest.


MATLAB Onramp, an on-line course for beginners and experienced MATLAB users

If you want to learn how to use MATLAB or get better at using it, come to the Risk Institute at 5-7pm on 7 November for the MATLAB Onramp shortcourse


Showcase Conference 2019

In this conference our Students will present their research progress to step up onto their PhD status. Further, there will be a poster competition open to all PhD students of the Risk Institute. This is an opportunity to see the current research pursued at the CDT and Institute for Risk and Uncertainty.

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Imprecise Tuesdays: Hannah Forbes

Harnessing the Power of the Crowd: Crowdsourcing in Product Design and Development

The pressure to innovate in the current business climate is exceptionally high. Competitive advantage through incremental improvement alone is no longer possible and organisations must consider new and disruptive approaches to product development in order to enhance their market position. Crowdsourcing has been described as one of these disruptive approaches, allowing organisations to expand their capability to innovate by involving and incorporating external knowledge. Despite high profile and successful examples of crowdsourcing, such as Procter and Gamble’s Connect and Develop and DARPA’s Network Challenge, academic literature on crowdsourcing in product development is still limited. Furthermore, crowdsourcing initiatives can fail in a number of ways including failing to attract enough responses or attracting poor-quality submissions. In this presentation, the existing state of crowdsourcing in academia is presented, along with the crowdsourcing challenges that face product development organisations and the proposed solutions. This presentation will also include a discussion on the future of work and the role crowdsourcing can play in the democratization of design, manufacture, and innovation.


RUC-APS University of Liverpool Cross-Faculty Research Workshop

A cross-faculty RUC-APS project workshop on Wednesday 28th August. The workshop is titled “Current Challenges, Trends and Experiences for Enhancing Agriculture Value Chain Decisions under Uncertainty”.

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Risk Communication: Lying over raw milk

The Institute for Risk and Uncertainty at the University of Liverpool will host this second event in our three-part Raw Milk series. These day-long events are open to the public and feature invited speakers, proffered presentations and posters, session on collaborations and proposal opportunties, and open discussion on the advantages and risks of raw milk, use and misuse of statistics, consumer protection regulations, and the challenges of balancing costs and benefits in any decision.

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RiskCom Study Group

The Risk Institute is launching a risk communication study group (RiskCom), headed by Scott Ferson. We will be looking at ways in which risk and uncertainty can be communicated amongst the general population in many varied scenarios and applications. We are going to have approximately biweekly meetings starting on Thursday 1st August, 2pm. The meeting will likely take place in the seminar room although this is subject to change dependant on numbers.


Institute for Risk and Uncertainty Spring School

Reliability Analysis. Will it work? Will it last?

This year’s spring school is a week-long short course and practicum on Reliability Analysis. It will feature a series of lectures presented by Professor Chandrasekhar Putcha (California State University Fullerton) and Mohamed Sallak (Université de Technologie de Compiègne). There will also be ancillary lectures and workshops by researchers from the Risk Institute.

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Cossanthon July 2019

A Hackfest dedicated to the development of the Cossan software

A Hackfest dedicated to the development of the Cossan software, organised in collaboration with the Institut für Risiko und Zuverlässigkeit and the Centre for Doctorate Training. This is an event open to all.

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This event celebrates LGBT+ folk working within STEM fields, with an aim to promote visibility & representation whilst providing insight into the work done at the university.


Thinkover: Humane Algorithms

Autonomous vehicles are just around the corner, and computers already make many of the important decisions in our daily lives. Yet algorithms can make serious errors and misjudgements. They have been accused of formalising racial bias and prejudice in social media and in the justice system itself. Facebook's algorithms seem to have swung recent elections. The computers on the Boeing 737 Max overrode human decisions in the disasters in the Java Sea and in Ethiopia. Can algorithms be designed to interact more smoothly with human users? What would a humane algorithm be? How should algorithms address diversity and uncertainty? How should they balance risks? Can algorithms be designed to recognise fairness in automated decision making? How could this even be assessed? Can they be designed to fail in ways that avoid catastrophic outcomes? This thinkover will focus on developing a useful definition for a humane algorithm, and a series of check points that will implement and make meaningful the definition in practical applications. The work will go into a conference presentation. All interested students and faculty members from all institutions, business people and industrialists are welcome to attend.

Collaborative Google site

Imprecise Tuesdays: Dominik Fahrner

Tidewater glacier change in Greenland: linear climate responses and application of machine learning Abstract: Greenlandic tidewater glaciers (TWGs) have been undergoing widespread retreat since the mid-1990s and contribute up to 50% of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS), though a comprehensive annual record of their retreat during the satellite age is currently lacking. We present a Greenland-wide data set of annual terminus positions for 220 TWGs for the period 1984-2017 based on Landsat 4-8/Sentinel 2 imagery (n = 3833). These were manually digitised using the Google Earth Engine Digitisation Tool (GEEDiT), and their changes quantified using the Margin Change Quantification Tool (MaQiT; Lea, 2018). Results were analysed alongside regional climate data, and with the supervised machine learning method Random Forests to determine the existence of threshold-type behaviour that may influence terminus stability. Our analysis highlights distinct linear trends in the regional response of TWG termini. The south-east, south-west and north-west regions are found to behave comparably (advance/stability until the mid-1990s followed by sustained retreat). However, in the north-east sustained retreat occurred since the mid-1980s, which then accelerated in 2008/2009. The generated data set enables the identification of regional linear trends of TWG behaviour for the first time and has allowed the application of Random Forests to determine the relative influence of climate forcings on termini positions.

Risk clinic: stochasticising a train control model
Hongbo Ye, School of Engineering, University of Liverpool

Abstract: Transportation engineers have created a Matlab code for controlling the movement of a train along its scheduled route for optimum efficiency, but their model is deterministic with no accounting for the stochastic variation in the passenger load or local weather conditions that influence performance. This thinkover will explore how we can edit the model within Matlab to take account of these stochastic factors to test and evaluate the movement controller in a more realistic setting

Downloadable Matlab files can be found here

Options and Opportunies for after your degree
Dr Alexis Nolan Webster

This lecture will provide an overview of the landscape of opportunities available to Ph.D. students in academia as well as industry to foster their career prospects. Also the dos and don'ts of editing a successful CV will be discussed.


Liverpool Pint of Science 2019

Pint of Science returns to Liverpool for a third year, as part of an international, three-day festival that will see thousands of scientists simultaneously standing up and telling the public about their research in over 100 cities across 12 countries. Day three (Wednesday 22nd) features three speakers from the Risk Institute

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An evening of Fake News

"Fake News is a growing phenomenon, and, as Donald Trump himself said "Fake News has never been more voluminous or more inaccurate"... or did he? With social media giants and news corporations failing to stop the spread of incorrect information, it is now a daily feature in our lives, and here at the Risk Institute we think it’s about time we had a (free) pint and a discussion about just what Fake News is! Dr Paul Christiansen from the department of Psychology will start off the evening introducing the history of fake news, and our cognitive bias’s towards believing it. Next, James Butterworth from the department of Computer Science will talk about applications of Machine Learning in fake news, and finally Michael ‘Marsh’ Marshall from the Merseyside Skeptic Society will talk about what drives people to become part of a pseudoscientific movement, and in particular, the flat earth movement. Finally our event will come to a close with a Pub Quiz, - can you tell what’s fake and what’s real?"

Career advice: some important aspects
Michael Beer

Going for an academic career means to set out for a dynamic pathway with often unexpected obstacles and restrictions and also chances. Getting prepared early helps to reduce uncertainties and to increase chances significantly. The presentation will highlight a number of facts that are crucial for success but are often not considered or considered too late. It will be explained how to develop an impactful CV as a basis for applying for academic jobs worldwide. It will also be explained how applications are assessed, and how to prepare them to make the most imporatnt items clear to the panels and referees. This presentation is based on own experience in different academic systems and on experience from assessing applications and writing and assessing reference letters.


Uncertainty quantification and management using cossan software

In collaboration with the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty (UK) and Institut für Risiko und Zuverlässigkeit (Germany), we are offering a 3-day training course on Uncertainty Quantification using COSSAN Software.

Each day focuses on a specific topic. This allows the participants to attend a specific training day.

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# Hashcode Solved 2019: A guide to algorithms and data structures for engineers
Jonathan Sadeghi

Google Hashcode is a competitive programming competition where the aim is to solve an algorithmic engineering challenge from Google in 4 hours, using a programming language of your choice. For the last 4 years the Risk Institute has entered teams into the competition and performed successfully. In each of these years we have encountered algorithmic challenges which are not commonly discussed in Engineering and non-computer science programming classes. The aim of this talk is to describe the solution to this year’s challenge (finding the optimal slideshow from a set of images, judged by a function provided by Google). We will discuss general tips for these types of coding competitions (and coding interviews!). The talk will be of interest to researchers who wish to learn more about high-dimensional optimisation problems which can’t be tackled with the more general numerical optimisation techniques, and students who wish to be well prepared for coding style interviews.

A multi-disciplinary approach to optimise flood mitigation strategies on road infrastructure in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam is ranked globally as the country with fourth highest exposure to flooding. In Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city, flood risk is especially acute due to climate change, fast urbanisation and an aging drainage system. A social and economic impact assessment carried out in Hanoi during July 2018 showed that the most important flood impacts are felt along the city roads. This talk presents some preliminary findings of the GCRF-OSIRIS project, a Global Challenges Research Fund project funded by the British Academy's Cities and Infrastructure Programme. The projects aims at minimising the impact of floods on urban road networks over different flood scenarios by developing a multi-period optimisation model strategic, long-term planning of mitigation measures. Mitigation measures, such as lake rehabilitation and construction of manholes, can be implemented independently over a discrete planning horizon. The problem of identifying a schedule of interventions which minimises road infrastructure damage and congestion level during floods is formulated as a mixed-integer linear programming model and solved using a Greedy Randomised Adaptive Search Procedure (GRASP). Preliminary results on some randomly generated instances are presented. The proposed approach is then used empirically for investigating cost effective ways in which flood damage to road infrastructure can be mitigated in the City of Hanoi. the case study uses real data, flood scenarios and mitigation impact measures produced by the GCRF-OSIRIS inter-disciplinary research team which includes social scientists, climatologists, hydrologists, and transport economists. The talk concludes with a discussion of the challenges of working on GCRF projects and the numerous opportunities for OR researchers to contribute to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

Some Advice on Scientific Publishing
Professor Gilbert Laporte

Professor Gilbert Laporte (Canada Research Chair in Distribution Management, HEC Montreal) will offer some advice on scientific publishing, with a strong emphasis on operational research papers. Examining the several components of a standard OR paper: title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, mathematical model, algorithm, computational results, conclusion acknowledgements and references. The talk will also touch on some aspects related to the submission and the revision processes.

How academic publishing works and how to raise your research profile
Sarah Roughley

This session will be split into two halves – the first section will provide an overview of the different publishing models that exist in scholarly publishing, specifically journal publishing, and the second section will look at the tools that are available to help you improve the visibility of your research including ORCID, Altmetric and social media.


Simulating real-world uncertainty in the classroom-an entrepreneurial perspective

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurship is a process that can be learned, not only to create companies but to solve problems and to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset that views the world around us from a different perspective, where "We" (the entrepreneurs) realize and respond to a certain call-for-action. To do so, entrepreneurs need to be experts at navigating uncertainty and attempt to convert it to a strategic advantage. The board game “ESHIP - Navigating Uncertainty” was created to aid an entrepreneurial learning process where one could absorb the principles of navigating uncertainty in an implicit and thus an intuitive manner. The players can test their team-based decision-making abilities within the safe and risk-free environment of a game.


Train (re)scheduling and speed profile design in rail management and operation
Dr. Hongbo Ye

An efficient rail system requires the trains to adhere to the timetables and the rail system itself to be able to mitigate the propagation of delay and recover from disruptions quickly. On the other hand, the energy efficiency is also a big concern for the railway managers and operators. In the day-to-day operation of the rail system, the punctuality and energy efficiency can be achieved by providing train drivers with sophisticatedly designed speed profiles to follow, while the delay and disruption can be managed via real-time rescheduling. This talk will provide a brief introduction on the planning, management, operation and control of the rail system, with a particular focus on rescheduling and speed profile design. In detail, it will introduce (i) the procedure of railway planning, (ii) the concept and modelling of train scheduling and rescheduling problems, (iii) a particular kind of rescheduling which deals with predictable disturbances such as adverse weather, (iv) the concept and modelling of train speed profile design problems, and (v) potential research directions related to uncertainties.

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Google Hashcode Hackathon

The Risk Institute will be hosting a hub for the Google Hashcode Hackathon in the Risk Institute Seminar Room. Everyone is welcome. The hackathon will take place on the 28th Feb starting at 17:30.

The Hashcode Hackathon is a competitive programming competition. You have 4 hours to write a program to process some data from Google, and produce a solution which will be scored by their system.

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Applications of Gaussian Process Regression in Uncertainty Quantification
Jinglai Li

Many complex engineering systems are often described by large-scale computer models. Quantifying uncertainty in such systems often requires a large number of simulations of such intensive computer models, which renders the total computational cost prohibitive. To this end, one possible solution is to construct some computationally efficient surrogate models of the systems and use them in the simulations. In this talk, we will discuss a popular surrogate model - the Gaussian Process regression, and the application of it in bot forward and inverse Uncertainty Quantification problems.

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Open Lecture Series: Jim Hall

As part of the Open Lecture Series, Professor Jim Hall FREng (Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks in the School of Geography and the Environment and a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Engineering Science) will give a talk explaining the ITRC’s methodology for national infrastructure assessment and will explain how NISMOD is being used to assess options for infrastructure provision in Britain. His research focuses upon management of climate-related risks in infrastructure systems, in particular relating to various dimensions of water security, including flooding and water scarcity.

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Expert Elicitation Symposium

The Institute for Risk and Uncertainty of the University of Liverpool will host a two-day symposium on expert elicitation over 13-14 February 2019. We are hoping to develop some synoptic guidance for people who must address expert opinions in their quantitative risk assessments. There have recently been several prominent books on this topic from various quarters in the social, biological, and physical sciences, with rather divergent stories about best practices.

The event will consist of a number of proffered talks from distinguished meta-experts on the topic, and extensive expert panel discussions including the perspective from industrial and academic practitioners.

View the schedule here

Should we use probability or imprecise probability for epistemic uncertainty?

In this workshop, we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of two alternative expressions for epistemic uncertainty: precise probability and bounds on probability, including verbal encapsulations that encode uncertainty. The quantification will be demonstrated using open-source code for the R programming environment. We will then compare expressions from these two approaches and discuss them in light of research and principles of risk analysis. The workshop will also present research from risk communication literature and an overview of experiments comparing the success in communicating epistemic uncertainty by bounds or precise probability. The question we would like to answer is, when and why to use bounds or not? The workshop will explain and focus on the difference between aleatory and epistemic uncertainty. It will address two problems drawn from existing opinions, one with medium and one with weak background knowledge.


Research Collaboration Meeting

This one day meeting will provide an opportunity for research active staff to meet potential collaborators from other departments. There will be presentations by group representatives from the School of Engineering and the Department of Mathematical Sciences, followed by structured discussion, and the chance to win funding to support a student summer internship to kick-start a collaborative research project.


Dr Qian Fu

Understanding and predicting weather-related incidents on the rail network: case studies of wind- and heat-related incidents in GB context

The impacts of extreme weather events on railway operations are complex and in the most severe cases can cause significant disruption to the rail services, leading to delays for passengers and financial penalties to the industry.
This talk by Dr Quian Fu (Research Fellow, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, University of Birmingham) will focus on a prototype data model, which enables exploration of the underlying causal factors impacting on weather-related incidents on the rail network in GB context.