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 algebra (infinite group theory, to be precise). 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 and since then I have been the Head of the Computer Science group. I am also 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. My CV (updated March 2012) is here.

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


  • 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 teaching focuses on software development (a first-year 20-credit module: Java Program Development CS1410) and data mining (a final-year 10-credit module: CS3440).  In the past I have taught a wide range of mathematics (statistics, numerical analysis, maths for computer science), machine learning (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. I am a member of the Non-linearity and Complexity Research Group (NCRG) and also an active participant in the Computer Science Research Group. 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.

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.


I welcome enquiries from PhD-qualified researchers from all countries outside the UK wishing to apply for a Marie Curie Fellowship to come to work with me at Aston; the next call opens on 14th March with a deadline of 14th August 2013. There are two Fellowship Schemes available:

  • One for early- to mid-career researchers of any nationality currently working in Europe (Intra-European fellowship, IEF);  
  • One for researchers at mid-career plus working in any country outside of Europe (International Incoming Fellowship, IIF).

Subject areas might include data visualisation, condition monitoring of complex structures, distributed and high-throughput machine learning. Please contact  Ian Nabney for further details.


Recent Funding:

Current grants:   

  • EPSRC CASE award with Agusta Westland (c. £80k)
  • KTP with BlackPepper Ltd. (jointly with Dr. Tony Beaumont and Dr. Sylvia Wong) (£120k).

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.

PhD Supervision 

  • Waljinder Gill: Diagnostics and Inference for Helicopter Airframe Vibration Data. Project in collaboration with AgustaWestland.
  • Shahzad Mumtaz: Visualisation of Bioinformatics Data.
  • Joel Subash: Bioimpedance for Measuring Obesity (primary supervisor Cliff Bailey).

Recently Completed Students: 

  • Tom Richens: Morphological Analysis to Improve WordNet.  (Jointly supervised with Ramesh Krishnamurthy)
  • 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) 

I am currently seeking to recruit new PhD students.  Areas of particular interest are data visualisation, effective machine learning algorithms (particularly implementations for distributed environments and cloud environments), Bayesian methods for automating model development, condition monitoring, and biomedical applications (obesity/diabetes modelling, markers for transitions in ageing, ECG analysis).

Member of Professional bodies

  • Member of the British Computer Society
  • Member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 

External Responsibilities 

  • Member of the EPSRC College since April 2000. I have been on four Prioritisation Panels in mathematics, one of which I chaired, and one interview panel for Interdisciplinary Technology.
  • Panel chair for Irish Research Council in Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) for Fellowships in Computer Science (2009 and 2010). 
  • Prioritisation panel member for Finnish Academy of Science (2011). 
  • External examiner at Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University (2009-11).

Selected publications

See a full list of publications at the Aston University Research Archive.

External Engagement 

  • I have supervised CASE studentships with Pfizer, IGI, Rolls-Royce, and AgustaWestland.
  • I am currently working on a KTP in data analytics with BlackPepper and have built a manufacturing scheduling system for FactoryMaster.
  • I am Chair of the Natural Computing Applications Forum.
  • I am a member of the Board of Birmingham Science Park Aston.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research