Dr Jade AlglaveA computer program pioneer whose work could make bugs in computer chips a thing of the past is set to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Silver Medal at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on Wednesday 27 June. Computer scientist Dr Jade Alglave, of UCL and ARM Ltd, has led the development of novel techniques to model the behaviour of multiprocessors, helping to overcome the difficulty of finding bugs in concurrent programmes where running those programmes can lead to many different, and unexpected, outcomes.
Concurrent programming, where separate components of a program are run at the same time, is an important function in high-performance computing. Assessing a program which runs concurrently means checking that its outcome is the same as if all its components were run in sequence. Often, these components need to communicate with each other and this is where subtle bugs may occur.
Practically, Dr Alglave’s work provides engineers with tools to innovate rapidly during the development of a concurrent system, but can also diagnose problems in existing systems. Her work has guided the development of formal models for computer hardware and software, as well as uncovered latent bugs in existing hardware.
Dr Alglave’s techniques have been used to model chips for IBM, Nvidia, AMD and ARM, among others. She has also contributed to developing a realistic model of the concurrency carried out by the Linux operating system, a development that has received a high level of support from the developer community and is now included in mainline Linux.
Dr Alglave said: “I am honoured to receive this medal, and keen to see how this work develops now that I have joined Arm. I would very much like to emphasise that all these contributions have been made with Dr Luc Maranget from INRIA, France, who took me under his wing when I was a student. Our scientific tandem is fun and rewarding to this day.
I would also like to thank people who helped us make this work better over the years, such as Derek Williams and Paul McKenney at IBM, Olivier Giroux at Nvidia, Paul Blinzer and Tony Tye at AMD, and Will Deacon and Richard Grisenthwaite at ARM.”
Professor Peter O’Hearn FRS FREng, Professor of Computer Science at UCL and Research Scientist at Facebook, who nominated Dr Alglave for the award, said: “Modelling concurrency has seen significant work over the last 40 years but the challenges are so difficult that absolutely basic, fundamental problems remain. The importance of overcoming these challenges is only increasing as technological developments in chip design grow.
Dr Alglave’s work is conceptually innovative and breathes new life into modelling the behaviour of computer hardware and software. Her research has had an unprecedented practical impact on chip design at many major companies and she has successfully developed complex theoretical solutions to some of the biggest challenges for the computing industry. This pairing of beautiful conceptual innovation with striking impact is exceedingly rare.”
Dr Scott, Capability Manager at Leonardo in the UK, has been a key figure in the creation of Leonardo’s Vixen-E family of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) airborne radars, which are now a major UK export worth hundreds of millions of pounds. AESA radar systems use multiple transmitters to send out and measure the reflection of radio waves to determine the distance and speed of targets. Individual control of these transmitters enables simultaneous functions ranging from surveillance and fire control to advanced data link communications.
While making huge progress in the performance, reliability and capabilities of radar, AESA radars have been impeded by their relatively narrow field of view – a challenge Dr Scott and his team at Leonardo in Edinburgh overcame with the development of the Raven ES-05 radar for Saab’s Gripen E fighter aircraft. The Raven ES-05 uses a repositionable antenna to provide a complete forward hemispherical scanning ability, a technological development that provides the Gripen E aircraft with far greater situational awareness and tactical advantage.
As the key sensor on the Gripen E, the breakthrough capabilities of the Raven ES-05 have been vital to the aircraft overcoming global competition for a number of international contracts, including multi-billion pound orders with the Swedish and Brazilian air forces. The Raven ES-05 is one of the largest and most strategically important radar projects run by Leonardo, with a development and production budget of several hundred million pounds and employing a highly skilled engineering team in Edinburgh and a wide network of national suppliers.
Dr Iain Scott said: “I am delighted to receive this award, and that the Royal Academy of Engineering has recognised the contribution that Leonardo and the Raven ES-05 radar programme has made to the UK economy. At the start we needed to quickly establish the trust of Saab, an extremely knowledgeable and capable customer. The depth of expertise in the whole Leonardo team allowed me to gain Saab’s confidence, a relationship that continues to this day. We are now seeing the technology and solutions that have been developed on Raven ES-05 being adopted in other radar systems, a testament to the ingenuity and capability of UK engineering.”
Dr Scott’s technical expertise has been fundamental in establishing Leonardo in the UK as one of the biggest and most successful airborne radar manufacturers in the world. In 2001 Leonardo began developing AESA radar technology for global markets, a major technical departure for the company that needed the support of engineers capable of grasping the complexities of the new technology. Dr Scott joined Leonardo after completing his PhD in radar signal processing at the University of Edinburgh, rapidly progressing within the company and leading on many of the key advances in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) techniques. Dr Scott led the algorithm development, implementation and verification of the company’s SAR techniques to such a high level that SAR is now a standard offering in all Leonardo radar products.
Recognising Dr Scott’s exceptional expertise and team leadership skills he was appointed Chief Systems Engineer for the company’s Vixen family of combat aircraft radar systems. The first system developed under his leadership was selected for use by the US Customs and Border Protection agency – a huge coup for a UK-based radar company as the USA is itself one of the world-leading developers of AESA technology.
Professor Tony Kinghorn FREng, Chief Technical Officer for RF Systems at Leonardo, who nominated Dr Scott for the medal, said: “Dr Scott is an outstanding engineer with a deep knowledge of all aspects of radar design and it would have been impossible to produce such a successful radar system without his clear vision and direction. The commercial success of the Raven ES-05 truly demonstrates the breadth and scope of Dr Scott’s engineering capabilities- his deep understanding of the technology coupled with his commercial awareness and his ability to build relationships of trust with Saab were all vital to the success of the programme.”
Thanks to the pioneering work of Professor Chris Sutcliffe, of the University of Liverpool and Renishaw, 3D printed metal implants are used to treat patients who have experienced trauma or debilitating joint disease of the hip, knee and spine. This new-class of bone-integrating implant uses 3D printing to mimic spongy bone tissue, enabling rapid integration between the implant and the bone and providing far better long-term performance and stability than traditional designs. The 3D printed metal implants are now routinely used in both human and animal surgery.
Professor Sutcliffe has been instrumental at every stage of creating the implants, establishing the computer aided design (CAD) software used to develop the structure, developing the equipment necessary to produce materials that are porous and strong enough to be used in production, and devising a way to measure the biological performance of the implants.
His fundamental research has been successfully commercialised through a joint licensing agreement with Stryker Orthopaedics. This partnership has led to the launch of five families of implants for Stryker’s Joint Replacement and Spine franchises, helping to improve the lives of thousands of patients and resulting in an increased market share for the company. In 2016 Stryker established a dedicated factory in Cork, Republic of Ireland, to produce one of the largest quantities of implants made by a single facility globally.
Professor Sutcliffe is also the founder and director of Fusion Implants, a University of Liverpool spin-out that produces veterinary implants using the bone-integrating technology in the treatment of musculoskeletal disease and injury in animals.
Professor Sutcliffe said: “It is very exciting to see fundamental ideas being translated into products that have a real and tangible impact on patients. We have worked hard to make this a success and this award recognises the efforts of the many engineers and scientists who have turned this into reality. I am very proud to receive this on their behalf and on behalf of the wider additive manufacturing family.”
With a research career spanning over 20 years, Professor Sutcliffe has been involved in several revolutionary developments in additive manufacturing, including the development of the first Direct Metal 3D printing system in the UK. The technique, which uses an intense laser beam to melt thin layers of metal powder one after the other, is used across industry to produce high-performance and extremely complex metal parts.
Professor Sutcliffe’s commitment to the deployment and commercialisation of research has led to many industrial partnerships, including a collaboration with Renishaw, where he was appointed Research and Development Director for the company’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division in 2008. He has also been responsible for the funded projects portfolio, working with universities and research organisations across Europe.
Siobhan Pipa at the Royal Academy of Engineering
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