Christopher Bishop, professor of computer science and applied mathematics at Aston University, has been appointed to a new chair in computer science at Edinburgh University, which he will hold in tandem with a post in the new Microsoft Research Laboratory in Cambridge.
His is the first of a wave of new appointments in informatics at Edinburgh, a 200-member centre which combines computer science, cognitive science and artificial intelligence and has attracted K14 million in research grants and contracts.
Edinburgh sees informatics as playing a key role in attracting inward investment to Scotland, particularly in microelectronics and computing. It will shortly announce three more chairs in cognitive science, artificial intelligence and computer systems as part of a package of a dozen new academic posts, boosting the ten existing chairs.
Professor Bishop, an expert in neural computing, plans to spend 10 per cent of his time in Edinburgh, but anticipates that his work will result in effective collaboration between Edinburgh and Microsoft.
Michael Fourman, head of informatics at Edinburgh, said: "We enjoy good relations with world leading computing and electronics firms. Chris Bishop's appointment with Microsoft Research will strengthen them.'' Professor Bishop said his new appointments offered the opportunity to start new projects, and the proportion of his time spent on projects based in either centre depended on how these evolved.
One of his key interests is to improve the theoretical foundation on which to build techniques for machine learning.
"I'm interested in the way people interact with computers, and interaction between computers,'' he said. "You would like to be able to retrieve information from the Internet in more intelligent ways than at present, for example, by typing in a text query."