Funded PhD project in Data Privacy at the University of Warwick (UK applicants)

A fully-funded PhD project in Data Privacy is available to be held at the University of Warwick, under the supervision of Prof. Graham Cormode and Prof. Carsten Maple.

The central focus of the project is on systems which adopt a statistical model of privacy, namely Differential Privacy and its Local variant.  Local differential privacy (LDP) has been adopted by several major technology companies, leading to the technology being used by hundreds of millions users daily.   The project will address questions including:

  • As more data is released via implementations of local differential privacy, what are the security guarantees in practice?
  • What statistics and models can be computed accurately under LDP, and what the tradeoffs are between the various parameters: the number of participants, the type of interaction, the accuracy of the results, and the level of privacy guaranteed?
  • What is the utility of the model in new settings – for example, data arising in the mobile vehicular context?

The project is funded by the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC), and involves collaboration with Thales in the UK (led by Peter Davies).  Suitable applicants will have a strong background in mathematics or statistics, and good knowledge of algorithms and computer science.  The project will cover all tuition fees, and provide a stipend at the standard UKRI level.  Due to the requirements of the sponsor, this studentship is only available to applicants with UK citizenship.  Additional opportunities with the NCSC will be available during and after the completion of the project.

Applications, in the form of a CV and brief covering letter detailing background, confirmation of citizenship, and preparation of the applicant, can be sent to and by May 15th 2019 (extended deadline).  Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for a follow-up discussion by phone or skype.


PhD positions in Data Summarization available

A funded studentship is available in the area of computer science to work on algorithms and data structures for summarization of massive data sets. Funding is provided through the prestigious ERC program, under project 647557, “Small Summaries for Big Data”.

Project Overview:
A fundamental challenge in processing the massive quantities of information generated by modern applications is in extracting suitable representations of the data that can be stored, manipulated and interrogated on a single machine. A promising approach is in the design and analysis of compact summaries: data structures which capture key features of the data, and which can be created effectively over distributed data sets. Popular summary structures include the Bloom filter, which compactly represents a set of items, and sketches which allow vector norms and products to be estimated.
Such structures are very attractive, since they can be computed in parallel and combined to yield a single, compact summary of the data. Yet the full potential of summaries is far from being fully realized. Professor Cormode is recruiting a team to work on important problems around creating Small Summaries for Big Data. The goal is to substantially advance the state of the art in data summarization, to the point where accurate and effective summaries are available for a wide array of problems, and can be used seamlessly in applications that process big data. PhD studentships can work on a variety of topics related to the project, including:
• The design and evaluation of new summaries for fundamental computations such as large matrix computations
• Summary techniques for complex structures such as massive graphs
• Summaries that allow the verification of outsourced computation over big data.
• Application of summaries in the context of monitoring distributed, evolving streams of data
The expectation is that this will lead to novel results in the summarization of large volumes of data, which will be published in top-rated venues.
You will possess a degree in Computer Science, mathematics or very closely related discipline (or you will shortly be obtaining it). You should have good knowledge of one or more of the following areas: algorithm design and analysis; randomized and approximation algorithms; communication complexity and lower bounds; streaming or sublinear algorithms. The post is based in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, but collaborations with closely related research organizations such as the centre for Discrete Mathematics and its Applications (DIMAP), the Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities (WISC); and the newly formed Alan Turing Institute (ATI) will be strongly encouraged.
For examples of relevant research and related topics, please consult Prof. Cormode’s web pages at
Candidates should hold a degree in Computer Science, Mathematics or closely related discipline, or expect to complete one before the commencement of the studentship. The degree should show a high level of achievement (1st or 2.1 level).
Funding level:
Funding is available to support stipend and fees at the UK/EU level for 4 years (this does not cover fees for non-EU students, see for more information).
Application details:
Please send a CV to giving details of your education and achievements to date, including details of performance in relevant university-level subjects (such as Algorithms, Data Structures, Complexity, Mathematical analysis of algorithms, linear algebra and so on). Please also include a covering note explaining how your background and interests make you relevant to the aims of the project.
Applications will be reviewed as they are received, with an initial deadline of November 30th 2015, and a final deadline of 31st March 2016.This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 647557).

Funding Notes

Funding is available to support stipend and fees at the UK/EU level for 4 years (this does not cover fees for non-EU students, see View Website for more information).

Microsoft EMEA Scholarship in Algorithms for Massive Data Analysis (closed)

This position has been filled.

A Microsoft Research scholarship place is available to study algorithms for massive data analysis, leading to a PhD in Computer Science. Increasingly, we are faced with larger and larger volumes of data from which to extract insights and intelligence. Of particular interest is data that can be represented as a graph or (adjacency) matrix. A promising approach is to look for ways to “sketch” such structures: to build a representation that is much more compact than the input, but which allows some function of interest on the original data to be approximated accurately using the sketch. Such sketches are well-known and widely used for data that can be represented as a vector (such as to identify the most frequent elements, or to count the number of distinct items). The goal of this scholarship project is to develop new algorithms for sketching of massive graphs and matrices, and to demonstrate their usefulness via theoretical analysis and empirical evaluation. The hope is to advance our knowledge of the theory in this area, and design algorithms which can be used in practice, such as for querying data represented as a (massive) graph, clustering/partitioning graph structured data, and optimization problems over large graphs.

The scholarship will support tuition fees and stipend to study at University of Warwick, under the guidance of Professor Graham Cormode and Dr. Milan Vojnovic of Microsoft Research. The Microsoft PhD Scholarship Programme recognises and supports exceptional students who show the potential to make an outstanding contribution to science and computing. Each Microsoft scholarship consists of an annual bursary for up to a maximum of three years.

During the course of their PhD, Scholars are invited to Microsoft Research in Cambridge for an annual Summer School that includes a series of talks of academic interest and posters sessions, which provides the Scholars the opportunity to present their work to Microsoft researchers and a number of Cambridge academics. There is also the possibility of internships at Microsoft Research. Applicants require a first-class Honours degree or equivalent in Computer Science, Mathematics or Computer Engineering, experience in programming and aptitude for mathematical subjects. Knowledge of algorithms, linear algebra, graph theory and probability is essential. A Masters degree is desirable. Before the Scholarship can be awarded the candidate must also undergo the formal admission procedure to the university of Warwick, and approval from Microsoft Research. The scholarship covers fees for students from European Union countries. In exceptional cases, it may be possible to support students from outside the EU.

To apply, please contact Graham Cormode or Milan Vojnovic directly with a CV and description of your experience relevant to this project. Please apply by January 31 2015 for full consideration. Further details and suggested reading is available from Prof. Graham Cormode (