The Royal Academy of Engineering and Man Group have appointed a new Research Chair in Machine Learning at the University of Oxford to develop machine learning and data analysis techniques for large-scale, real-world applications, including financial modelling. Professor Stephen Roberts FREng will hold the five-year Research Chair, applying his extensive expertise and years of experience in machine learning approaches, data analysis and statistical modelling.

Professor Roberts currently leads the University's hub for machine learning and data analytics. This encompasses the Department of Engineering Science’s Machine Learning Research Group, a body of some 30 leading machine learning researchers, and the Oxford-Man Institute, an innovative collaboration between the University of Oxford and Man Group, which focuses on machine learning in quantitative finance.

Machine learning provides a powerful way of combining data from multiple sources in real time, to deliver information and predictions about complex systems, such as financial markets. Some trade-offs are usually made between speed and precision on account of the sheer volume of data collected each second. One of the core goals of Professor Roberts' research will be to develop more agile systems that can maximise use of the available bandwidth while minimising the impact on performance and precision. Professor Roberts’ project will seek to produce scalable technology in a single, coherent solution that can be deployed in large systems in real time, in areas that monitor large steams of data.

Professor Stephen Roberts FREng, Royal Academy of Engineering/Man Group Research Chair in Machine Learning, said: “Challenging engineering problems are rarely black and white, so the key is to develop ways to manage uncertainty and to create a dynamic process which can change and react over time to deliver the best results. There are a large number of models currently used within machine learning to address such problems, but as the Royal Academy of Engineering/Man Group Research Chair in Machine Learning, my goal will be to bring them together and produce a coherent solution with multiple applications.”

Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, said:

“We need skilled engineers to develop the tools that can rapidly process vast amounts of data into actionable information. The information can be used to tackle problems from commerce and industry to humanitarian needs, but it needs innovative technology to deliver it. The Royal Academy of Engineering is proud to support Professor Roberts as the new Research Chair in Machine Learning to advance this increasingly important field.”

Sandy Rattray, CEO of Man AHL, said: “At Man AHL, we have been actively researching and investing in machine learning techniques for several years. Through the Oxford-Man Institute (OMI), our unique collaboration with the University of Oxford, we are able to apply these techniques in our client trading programs. In a world where the quantity and forms of available data are expanding enormously, we believe that the cutting-edge research carried out by Professor Stephen Roberts has great potential to further enhance this field and so help us to deliver value to our clients.”

Notes for editors

1. Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
  • Address the engineering skills crisis
  • Position engineering at the heart of society
  • Lead the profession

2. Man Group and Man AHL

Man Group is one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment management groups. Man Group’s managers (Man AHL, Man FRM, Man GLG and Man Numeric) have diverse long/short and long only strategies spanning equity, credit, managed futures, convertibles, emerging markets and multi-managers. At 30 June 2016, Man Group’s funds under management were $76.4 billion.

Man AHL is a diversified quantitative investment manager dedicated to delivering a broad and innovative offering in alternative and long only strategies, with funds under management of $18.8 billion (as at 30 June 2016).

A pioneer in the application of systematic trading since 1987, Man AHL manages assets for institutional and private clients globally and has a range of momentum and non momentum driven strategies.

Backed by extensive research capabilities and a collaborative culture, Man AHL applies innovative quantitative methods, informed by market understanding, to locate potential opportunities in more than 400 markets worldwide. It benefits from a unique collaboration with the University of Oxford, the Oxford Man Institute.

Man AHL has over 100 investment professionals, based in London, Oxford, Hong Kong and Pfäffikon. Further information can be found at

3. The Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division

The MPLS is one of four academic divisions at the University of Oxford, representing the non-medical sciences. Oxford is one of the world’s leading universities for science, and MPLS is at the forefront of scientific research across a wide range of disciplines. Research in the mathematical, physical and life sciences at Oxford was rated the best in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment. MPLS received £133m in research income in 2014/15.

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T. 020 7766 0636