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Luke Slater, Lucas Carr und Aidan Bailey © Sven Ellger

June 10, 2024

SECAI Welcomes the First Participants of the new Exchange Programme with South Africa

The Cape-KR, a scientific symposium to promote the AI sub-disciplines of knowledge representation and automatic reasoning, took place in Cape Town from 29 January to 2 February. Organised by Tommie Meyer, SECAI partner and co-director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence Research South Africa (CAIR), and supported financially and personally by SECAI, the event not only served to promote regional students and young scientists, but also to deepen the cooperation between SECAI and the University of Cape Town (UCT). Thanks to the efforts of Fellow Sebastian Rudolph, SECAI-funded guest stays for South African Master's students were initiated as part of the event, with SECAI welcoming the first participants this semester.

Luke Slater, Lucas Carr, and Aidan Bailey are three promising Master's students specialising in Knowledge Representation and Reasoning at UCT. Thanks to the new exchange programme, they have the special opportunity to study at TU Dresden for a semester and take advantage of the comprehensive offer of a university of excellence. During their stay in Dresden, the three students hope to benefit from the broad range of disciplines and the support of the network of renowned scientists and to specialise.

„Before I came here, I had planned to use the opportunity primarily for my personal development and to focus on improving my research skills and expanding my academic knowledge. I will spend a lot of time working on my own research and take the opportunity to get advice from all the other scientists here,“ says Luke Slater. He is focussing on the subfield of knowledge compilation, which in simple terms comprises methods that facilitate the solution of complex artificial intelligence problems by pre-processing and efficiently representing knowledge. This involves a complex pre-calculation step in which information is converted into a structure that makes subsequent calculations much more practical.

Lucas Carr studied philosophy alongside his background in computer science and is now attempting to combine the two disciplines in his Master's programme. His research interests lie at the interface between logic and knowledge representation. With his undergraduate degree in philosophy having deepened the foundations of structured reasoning and conceptual analysis, he is currently focusing on Formal Conceptual Analysis, a mathematical framework for identifying and representing structures underlying data. Lucas says: „One of the reasons I came to TU Dresden was to be introduced to other subfields of knowledge representation and reasoning and perhaps find one that piques my interest.“

Aidan Bailey shares: „During my Honours year, under the supervision of Professor Tommie Meyer, I investigated the generation of knowledge bases for testing optimisations of reasoning algorithms. My work, with the help of two fellow students (Joon Soo Park and Joel Hamilton), was published in the Proceedings of the Southern African Conference for Artificial Intelligence Research (SACAIR 2022).“ As part of his master's programme, he wants to investigate the applicability of Answer Set Programming (ASP), more specifically, how successfully he can use it to automate the configuration of logical and electronic circuits. ASP is a declarative programming approach that uses logical rules to model problems and find solutions in the form of models (so-called answer sets) that fulfil all specified conditions.

SECAI made the exchange programme possible thanks to the efforts of Sebastian Rudolph and Tommie Meyer, who initiated this cooperation in intensive discussions at Cape-KR at the beginning of the year. The exchange programme marks the beginning of an intensified collaboration with UCT.