Professor Ian Nabney

Prof Ian Nabney

Phone number
+44 (0)121 204 3645


Room number


After studying mathematics for a BA at Oxford, I moved to Cambridge to do my PhD, which was in abstract algebra. I then spent five years with Logica (a UK software house) at their R&D lab, where I developed a wide range of neural network applications and also worked in formal methods. 

In 1995 I was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Applied Maths at Aston University. In 2001 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer as part of what (several reorganisations later) is now the Mathematics Subject Group. In 2004 I was promoted to a Chair in Computer Science. I was the Associate Dean for Research for the School of Engineering and Applied Science and prepared the School's submission for the 2008 RAE; since January 2008 I have been the Head of the Computer Science group and I have also been Head of the Mathematics group since September 2012. Externally to Aston, I am the chair of the Natural Computing Applications Forum (NCAF) and have organised the scientific program for many of their meetings. In my spare time I play the piano.

Qualifications & education

  • BA with First Class Honours in Mathematics, University of Oxford, 1985
  • Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics (Distinction), University of Cambridge, 1986
  • PhD in Mathematics, University of Cambridge, 1989
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 1998


  • 2004 – date: Professor of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University.
  • 2001 – 2004: Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University.
  • 1995 – 2001: Lecturer in Mathematics, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University.
  • 1989 – 1995: Consultant at Logica Cambridge Ltd.

Teaching activity

My current teaching focuses on software development (a first-year 20-credit module: Java Program Development CS1410) and group project skills for mathematicians (a second-year 10-credit module: AM20IS).  In the past I have taught a wide range of mathematics (statistics, numerical analysis, maths for computer science), machine learning (a final-year Data Mining module and at Master's level: algorithms and computational mathematics), and software (object-oriented programming in C++ and Java, software project management) modules.

Research interests

My research spans both the theory and applications of neural networks and other pattern recognition techniques, with a special focus on data visualisation and probabilistic modelling. Much of my work is inspired, directly or indirectly, by industrial problems in bioinformatics, biosignal processing, condition monitoring, remote sensing and financial forecasting. I have put my experience of software engineering to good use through developing the Netlab toolbox for neural networks and related pattern analysis techniques: this has now been downloaded more than 45,000 times and the accompanying book has 1000 citations. I am a member of the Institute of System Analytics. Between October 2000 and June 2002 I was the Director of the Cardionetics Institute of Bioinformatics, which researched methods for extracting clinically valuable information from electrocardiogram (ECG) data.  The current focus of my research is in data visualisation (representing high-dimensional data faithfully in 2D so that users can analyse its structure visually) and time series analysis and characterisation (with applications in biomedical signal processing and condition monitoring of complex machinery).

I am also actively involved with ARCHA (Aston Research Centre in Health Ageing). I am working with a research assistant to investigate change-points in peoples' quality of life as they age and also on statistical modelling of biological data.

Recent Funding:

Current grants:   

  • EPSRC CASE award with Agusta Westland (c. £80k).
  • TSB project in data visualisation with IGI and Daden (c. £120k to Aston).
  • TSB project in intelligent document management with Folding Space and MISL (c. £120k to Aston).

Completed grants:

  • BBSRC CASE award with Pfizer Central Research: in silico modelling of drug-like molecules. (c. £80k)  Completed 2011.
  • EPSRC CASE award with IGI Ltd.: visualisation of geochemical data. (c. £80k). Completed 2010.
  • dstl and Daden Ltd.: virtual worlds for immersive visualisation of data.  Completed 2011.
  • EPSRC CASE award with Rolls-Royce (c. £80k). Completed 2012.
  • KTP with Factory Master Ltd. (jointly with Dr. Jort van Mourik) (£120k). Completed 2012.
  • KTP with BlackPepper Ltd. (jointly with Dr. Tony Beaumont and Dr. Sylvia Wong) (£120k).  Completed 2014.

PhD Supervision 

  • Waljinder Gill: Diagnostics and Inference for Helicopter Airframe Vibration Data. Project in collaboration with AgustaWestland.
  • Shahzad Mumtaz: Visualisation of Bioinformatics Data.

Recently Completed Students: 

  • Tom Richens: Morphological Analysis to Improve WordNet.  (Jointly supervised with Ramesh Krishnamurthy)
  • Joel Subash: Bioimpedance for Measuring Obesity (primary supervisor Cliff Bailey).
  • Thi Hang Nguyen: Forecasting Electricity Demand and Price.  Project in collaboration with E.ON. 
  • John Owen: In silico Modelling of Drug-like Molecules.  Project in collaboration with Pfizer Central Research. 
  • Martin Schroeder: Visualisation of Geochemical Data. (Jointly supervised with Dan Cornford).
  • Will Plant: Effective Search for Colour Images (jointly supervised with Joanna Lumsden) 
  • Ryszard Maciol: Sparse Approximation and Compression of Colour Images 
  • Ben Fletcher: High-throughput 3D Medical Image Analysis. (Part-time) 

Member of Professional bodies

  • Member of the British Computer Society
  • Member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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