NICaiA, Nature Inspired Computation and its Applications, is a 4 year exchange programme of early and experienced researchers in the field of computational intelligence across 3 universities in the European Union and 4 universities in China. This programme is funded by the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (call reference FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES). The Marie Curie International Staff Exchange Scheme is a new type of action first implemented in 2008, that aims to strengthen research partnerships through staff exchanges and networking activities between European research organisations and organisations from eligible countries outside the EU. Compared to existing Marie Curie actions, which provide mobility possibilities to individual researchers, this new action will provide support to research organisations to establish or reinforce long-term research cooperation through a coordinated joint programme of exchange of researchers for short periods.

The overall research theme of the proposed project is nature inspired computation and its applications: The field of nature inspired computation is a relatively new inter-disciplinary area of research that is concerned with the computational capabilities of natural systems and their interpretation in a computational framework. Each of the seven participants (three in the EU and four in China; see here) has dedicated research groups that are amongst the world's best in this highly relevant field of research. The collaboration is expected to generate high-impact research outcomes in the form of publications, seminars and workshops. The strengthening of the relationships between the EU and China will set the stage for long-term collaborations in the future and will provide the European Research Area (ERA) with a significantly improved access to the rapidly growing Chinese academic and industrial sectors. In particular, the short-term (48 months) transfer of academic staff will facilitate the mutual exchange of domain specific knowledge and know-how, and by means of seminars and workshops, we intend to widen the scope of the programme, including as many (self-supported) external participants as possible, both from academia and industry. We intend to achieve the objectives of our exchange programme by jointly working on a series of research topics that have been chosen specifically to maximise the synergy between the partners.

There are a number of deliverables that ensure the overall goals of the project are met. The first goal of the programme is the long-term reinforcement of the intellectual infrastructure between the EU and China, providing the ERA with improved access to the rapidly growing Chinese research sector. This in particular includes developing human resources (e.g., early career researchers) as well as motivating financial investments from industry in the EU and Chinese academic sector. These goals will be met by means of research activities such as seminars, workshops and possibly summer schools. Such activities will enable researchers from the EU and Third Countries to exchange not only valuable know-how, but will establish and strengthen an infrastructure for the exchange of information in the long-term. Furthermore, significant effort will be made to widen the scope of the exchange programme by including as many external researchers and industrial collaborators in these events as possible.

The second major goal of the exchange programme is the advancement of scientific knowledge, especially in areas most relevant to the ERA. In this case, deliverables include scientific publications in leading journals and conferences as well as technical reports for each work package. These publications will highlight the research outcomes and discuss explicitly the impact of the collaboration.

Objectives of NICaiA

The core objectives (work packages) of the project may be summarised as follows:

  • Establish, extend and strengthen the infrastructure for the long-term exchange of knowledge and know-how between the EU and China.
  • Exchange of (actual) domain-specific knowledge in the field of natural computation and the exchange of (abstract) knowledge in the more general sense of scientific research (know-how).
  • Develop young researchers by providing international experience and providing access to world-class research groups in the field of natural computation.
  • EU partners gain access to the rapidly growing Chinese research market as well as the industrial sector. Similarly, Third Country partners establish useful contacts (academic and industrial) in the EU.
  • Establishment of long-lasting international collaborations in computer science and related research areas between the EU and China.
  • Widen the impact of the field by making the research accessible to a wide audience including representatives from universities and industry in both the EU and China.
  • Contribution towards the global developments in nature inspired computation by means of widely accessible research outputs.

The scientific objectives are categorised by research topics and are as follows:

  • Algorithm Design for Challenging Real-World Optimization Problems
  • Scalability in Evolutionary Computation
  • Analysis of Approximation Abilities of Evolutionary Algorithms
  • Multi-Objective Evolutionary Optimization Algorithms
  • Co-Evolutionary Algorithms and Multi-Agent Systems
  • Computational Interpretation of Basic Life Processes
  • Foundations of Evolutionary Experimental Optimization
  • Implementation of Evolutionary Algorithms on Consumer Hardware

This website will remain active even after the duration of the exchange programme to facilitate further collaborations beyond those established within the 4 year framework.