This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 766186. EU Flag

University of Birmingham:

The University of Birmingham hosted a workshop on the 20th and 21st of May, 2019. It was held at the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre, Birmingham. In the first day, there were five talks given by the supervisors and researchers in the related fields, including Dr. Leandro L. Minku (University of Birmingham), Prof. Peter Tino (University of Birmingham), Prof. Ata Kaban (University of Birmingham), Dr. Per Kristian Lehre (University of Birmingham) and Dr. Zhao Xu (NEC). The talks covered statistical core knowledge, statistical machine learning and emerging topics in evolutionary computation and deep learning models. In the second day, all the ESRs gave presentations on their research with feedback given from the audiences. There were 21 participants during the workshop, including all the ESRs.

BMW Training Event:

The ECOLE BMW training took place from 22nd to 26th November, 2021 in Munich, Germany. Apart from the scientific communications and research activities, all participating ESRs joined the following activities: (1) A guided factory tour focusing on BMW production, such as body, drivetrain and final assembly, and Research and Development department, including simulation-based car development and optimisation and data analytics in car development. (2) Software Trainings. (3). Networking and Career Events. The purpose of the guided tour was to enable the ESRs to have a deeper understanding of the industrial application, especially in the field of automotive industry, in order to help them realise the commercial potentials of their research in the near future. The ESRs was equipped with aerodynamic software skills, whereas the networking and career events provided the ESRs with the opportunities to expand their interpersonal connections with the industry and enhance their professional competitiveness.


NEC organized Winter School on Deep Learning (January 2020) and Workshop on Mining Patterns from Complex Data (May 2020).
The winter school was in Heidelberg, Germany. It introduced diverse recent research advances in machine learning, including Reinforcement Learning and its Application to NLP Tasks, Graph Neural Networks, Deep Robot Vision, and Computer Vision with TensorFlow. The winter school also provided the ESRs with a training about deep learning platforms. Besides the technical part, NEC organized the sessions about soft skills training for career development of the ESRs, such as speed reading, commercial potential of their research, and technology transfer.
The workshop on Mining Patterns from Complex Data was held virtually due to the pandemic. The advances in the topics of Class Imbalance Learning, AI for the Biomedical Domain, and Complex Industrial Data Analysis, as well as other Machine Learning Applications were introduced to the ESRs. In addition, the ESRs reported the new results and discussed the challenges with the supervisory board. Finally, the consortium discussed the management matters, especially the potential impact of the pandemic on the project progress and the secondment of the ESRs.
The ESRs actively participated in the organization work, and gained hands-on experience on organization, management and communication skills.


Both summer schools and workshops (Fall 2019 and Fall 2020) organized by HRI-EU set a specific focus on the importance of research in optimization and machine learning methods applied to industrially relevant problems. The fact that real-world product optimization typically utilizes time-consuming digital simulations amplifies the importance of extracting and exploiting experience based on historical data. In the first event, HRI-EU staff gave insights into advanced evolutionary optimization and machine learning research as well as into project management techniques. Dr. Sebastian Schmitt and Dr. Mariusz Bujny (both HRI-EU) presented their most recent research results in structural design optimization and data analytics and their applications to industrial design problems. Dr. Krishna Rajan and Karin Haake (both HRI-EU) contributed talks on intellectual property including practical information on how to write a patent (compared to writing a scientific paper) and on advanced project management in an industrial research institute. Both talks were followed by a full day workshop dedicated to patenting praxis and
project management for an intensive practical training given to all ESRs. In the second event, which was organized as an online event due to the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic impact, internationally renowned scientists in optimization and learning were invited as speakers. This very special line-up of speakers was only possible in an online event. Speakers were: Prof. Yew-Soon Ong (Nanyang Technical University, Singapore), Prof. Yaochu Jin (University of Surrey, UK) and Prof. Kaisa Miettinen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), who each gave a talk on their current cutting-edge research in the field of evolutionary, multi-objective optimization combined with machine learning. This summer school has been carried out in combination with the HRI-EU EGN symposium, a bi-yearly event where all members of the EGN are invited to attend talks by all current PhD-students, which typically leads to lively discussions on actual research. On this occasion, all ESRs presented their research to a broader audience and received valuable feedback for their progress.

Leiden University:

Leiden University hosted the annual ECOLE Summer School on the 8th and 9th of June 2021. Due to the Corona virus measures, it was decided that instead of a live event, the Summer School would be organized in an online environment. For the Summer School, international researchers that belong to the best in their field were invited to join and present their research. Speakers included Prof. Dr. Kate Smith Miles (University of Melbourne, Australia), Prof. Dr. Markus Zimmermann (Technische Universität München, Germany), Prof. Dr.-Ing. Yaochu Jin (University of Surrey, UK), Dr.-Ing. Carola Doerr (Sorbonne Université, Paris), Dr. Tobias Rodemann (Honda Research Institute Europe GmbH, Germany) and Dr. Carlos A. Coello Coello (CINVESTAV-IPN, Mexico). Their talks presented a mix of both theoretical and applied computer science, thereby contributing to the main goals of the ECOLE project.
Kate Smith Miles presented how a new methodology called Instance Space Analysis could be used to support the objective testing of algorithms. In her talk, she also showed how the methodology works using university timetabling. The talk of Markus Zimmermann demonstrated how the V-model of systems engineering can help in design issues, thereby drawing on examples from the automotive industry. Yaochu Jin showed how two recently developed algorithms can be used to solve high-dimensional and many-objective optimization problems. In the talk of Carola Doerr, the
complementarity of theoretical and empirical research in optimization was stressed and different techniques to achieve this balance were demonstrated. Tobias Rodemann’s talk demonstrated the importance of practice in optimization research. With examples from the energy and mobility sector he showed that the factor ‘human’ should not be neglected in the design of optimization methods. The day ended with the talk of Carlos A. Coello Coello, who summarized the history of multi-objective evolutionary algorithms and shared some provocative thoughts on how the field should develop in the future in his eyes.
The necessity to organize the Summer School online had two main advantages. Firstly, there was the opportunity to invite speakers that would otherwise, due to travel times and busy schedules, not have been able to join. Secondly, because of the worldwide experts speaking, it was decided to open up the Summer School to a broader audience. Apart from the ESRs and their supervisors, also people from the research groups of the ECOLE universities joined the lectures. On average, 35 to 40 people participated during the whole day. This also stimulated the discussions after each talk. Overall, the Summer School was positively received.
In the evening of the first day, a social event was organized for the ESRs and their supervisors. This provided the opportunity to create stronger social bonds and substitute part of the missing social interactions during the day. The second day of the Summer School was dedicated to the ESRs presenting their research projects to the whole group.

International Summer School

In addition to summer schools hosted and organised by the ECOLE project for the ECOLE ESRs, we have also co-organised a summer school with IEEE so that our ESRs could mix with other peers and learn from each other. The following summer school had substantial input from the ECOLE team members.
IEEE CIS Summer School on Data-Driven Artificial/Computational Intelligence: Theory and Applications, 23-26 August 2021, Virtual Event
Co-Chairs: Ke Li (University of Exeter) and Leandro Minku (University of Birmingham)
Data has been playing an ever-growing role in artificial/computational intelligence. Such role goes beyond its typical use in neural networks and learning systems, encompassing also evolutionary and
other meta-heuristic optimization algorithms. The objective of this summer school was to provide a unique and vibrant platform for learning and experiencing the emerging methodologies and applications of artificial/computational intelligence highly related to data. It will offer keynotes, invited lectures, tutorials and discussion groups from high-profile UK and international experts. The summer school targeted senior undergraduate, graduate students, post-doc, early career researchers and professionals from around the world who are willingly to deepen their skills in computational intelligence, in the field of artificial/computational intelligence. It provided a unique opportunity for participants to 1) learn about artificial/computational intelligence approaches and their applications; 2) interact with world-renowned experts in computational intelligence; and 3) communicate with experts and peers with a broad range of backgrounds to exchange ideas and form new collaborations. It was open both to ESRs and other attendees. Keynote speakers included Prof. Tim Menzies (North Carolina State University, USA), Prof. Yaochu Jin (University of Surrey, UK), Prof. Bernhard Sendhoff (Honda Research Europe, Germany), Prof. Xin Yao (Southern University of Science and Technology, China, and University of Birmingham, UK). Tutorial speakers included Prof. Jiayu Zhou (Michigan State University, USA) and Prof. Ata Kaban (University of Birmingham, UK). Lecture speakers included Prof. Yanan Sun (Sichuan University, China), Prof. Gabriela Ochoa (University of Stirling, UK), Dr. Yuan Yuan (Michigan State University, USA), Prof. Liang Feng (Chongqing University, China), Prof. Shiping Wen (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), Prof. Manuel Roveri (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Dr. Hao Wang (Leiden University, Netherlands), Dr. Per Kristian Lehre (University of Birmingham, UK).
In addition to the summer schools and workshops organised for the ECOLE ESRs, as reported above, the ECOLE ESRs have also attended a number of conferences, workshops and summer schools in their specialist areas, interacting with specialists in their topic areas. The following table summarises such activities..