New Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in South Africa

The official name of the new centre is UKZN/CSIR-Meraka Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR), which is a collaboration between the University of KwaZulu-Natal (mainly the School of Computer Science) and CSIR-Meraka Institute (currently the Knowledge Representation and Reasoning group). Tommie Meyer has taken up the position of Director of the centre.

The aim of the Centre is to promote and sustain excellent research in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its mission statement is to become a Centre of Excellence for theoretical and applied research in AI.

It is the largest AI centre with the most researchers holding a PhD at least in South Africa, and perhaps even on the continent, counting 10 researchers with a PhD in the field, 5 PhD students, to which two postdocs and several MSc and PhD student bursaries will be added (that will become available soon). The main emphasis is initially Knowledge Representation & Reasoning, but we also have ample competencies in other topics, such as optimization, genetic algorithms, and pattern recognition. A slightly longer description is available in the UKZN Online newsletter.

One of the first events is the organization of the Masters Artificial Intelligence spring School (MAIS’11), to be held in Durban (eThekwini) from 26 to 30 September 2011, which is a continuation of the previous three successful winter/spring schools (MOWS’08, MOSS’09, MOWS’10) but with a slightly broader coverage of topics. It will provide opportunities to learn about specific AI topics, to present recently completed or ongoing research by the MAIS participants, and to network (see preliminary programme).