Cercia was funded by Advantage West Midlands to encourage the adoption of advanced computational technologies throughout the West Midlands area. The School of Computer Science within the University of Birmingham is the top-rated School of its kind in the West Midlands, and produces internationally excellent research in a number of areas. Therefore AWM set up Cercia within this school in order to take the technologies developed by our leading research staff, and work with local businesses to integrate them beneficially into their business infrastructure.
Our brochure contains additional information on the work and services we provide.
Our technologies lie within three broad, but overlapping areas
Firstly, optimisation: This covers topics as diverse as stock cutting and container packing, right the way to process optimisation, route optimisation and stockmarket investment management. Broadly, this covers all applications where a value, whether it be a duration, cost, efficiency or throughput, needs to be tuned to its largest or smallest possible value.
Secondly, data mining: This involves searching for patterns, rules and associations from large data sets. Example applications include anomaly detection (e.g. for financial analysis or energy-management), rule-finding (for generating patterns from given data that can be followed in order to achieve a specific outcome e.g. learning trading strategies, stock management, analysis of experimental results), clustering (for partitioning a set of data into distinct sub-groups such as for customer-relations management or targeted marketing) and visualisation (for viewing complex data intuitively on screen).
Thirdly, design: This falls into two general sub-groups. Technical design has a strong overlap with optimisation - where usually a design is required for an engineering process, where properties such as strength, rigidity or weight need to be either increased or reduced. It also covers creative design, where our computational techniques can aid atrists, sculptors and architects to generate new and innovative visual designs, often learning existing patterns and replicating works in a specified style.
How we can help
Firstly, we can offer free technical consultancy for a limited period (usually 1-2 days) to SMEs located within the West Midlands. This will usually take the form of a technology report, or a short implementation of some relevant technology.
Secondly, we offer courses to participants from all industries, covering a wide range of topics from evolutionary optimisation and cluster computing to data mining and open-source software. These are usually free to West-Midlands SMEs.
Thirdly, we offer longer-term funded projects for which we can undertake a more significant quantity of work for any company, regardless of location. These projects are charged at standard University consultancy rates, and Cercia has significant expertise at applying for public grants in order to partially or totally cover these costs.
What we don't do
Cercia is not in the business of producing polished, saleable products. We are not product designers, and we only undertake projects concerned with the generation or implementation of novel techniques, and not with presenting a marketable front-end interface for those applications.
We are not web designers. Though we can offer some limited advice in this area we do not write web sites or web scripts. The one exception here is the writing of intelligent back-end software for web sites, such as data mining or visualisation applets, which use computational intelligence technologies.
Cercia, due to its position within the University of Birmingham, cannot perform marketing by recommending any one external company above any other.
In addition to being able to provide advice and support through Computational Intelligence, Cercia is also able to provide access to several highly specialised resources, including the HPCC cluster - the UKs first Itanium2 based cluster.
Cercia produces an "Annual Report" of its work: