Professor Ian Nabney

Executive Dean 

Ian Nabney

Phone number: 0121 204 3645
Email: [email protected]   
Room number: MB140


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. 

I am currently the Executive Dean for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and at the University level I am Associate PVC International for China.  I am a 50th Anniversary Professor of Systems Analytics. I was formerly Head of Computer Science (2009-2016), Head of Mathematics (2012-2015) and Associate Dean for Research in the School (2006-2008).  

I have led the introduction of a range of innovations at Aston: a university-wide research publication repository; work-based Degree Apprenticeships recruiting more than 70 students (featured in `Forging Futures'​, a recent UUK/UKCES report on university/employer collaboration); and a student-led software company to provide on-campus experience of industrial-standard software development.   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.

  • 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.
My current teaching focuses on software development (a first-year 20-credit module: Java Program Development CS1410).  In the past I have taught a wide range of mathematics (statistics, numerical analysis, maths for computer science, group project skills), 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.

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 toolboxfor 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.

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) (£120). Completed 2014.
  • Waljinder Gill: Diagnostics and Inference for Helicopter Airframe Vibration Data. Project in collaboration with AgustaWestland.
  • Shahzad Mumtaz: Visualisation of Bioinformatics Data.
  • 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 the British Computer Society
  • Member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications 
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy