Funded PhD Opportunity BTIIC-02: Novel data analytics to automatically detect patterns in diverse customer data

This opportunity is now closed.

This project is funded by: BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) Invest NI

Subject: Computer Science and Informatics


BT Ireland Innovation Centre:

This studentship is one of twelve such PhD studentships, offered in collaboration with British Telecom and tenable in the School of Computing, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Ulster University based at the Jordanstown campus. The studentships relate to different research topics in future telecommunication networks and services with a particular emphasis on Intelligent Systems, Future Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Cyber Security, Fixed and Mobile Network Services. They are part of the recently funded BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) which is a collaborative project between BT and Ulster University, with a large presence in BT Belfast. BTIIC is an ambitious research and engineering project, initially running for 5 years, and funded by Invest Northern Ireland. It comprises two Research Workstreams: (i) Intelligent Systems, and (ii) IoT – Trust, Security and Dependability. The research topics proposed for the 12 studentships are in these broad areas.

Project summary: For network service providers to improve customer experience and reduce costs, it is essential to detect service issues and fix them before customers are impacted. This requires automated real-time analytics embedded in operational systems that can either pre-empt service or system failures or raise appropriate alarms to operators and initiate workflows to address and correct the network faults. Current analytic systems overwhelm operators with hundreds of unspecific alarms, making is difficult to locate faults precisely and identify their nature and root cause. This PhD project will focus on the development of novel data analytics algorithms and tools to detect patterns automatically in diverse data-sets (both structured and unstructured, time series and event streams), with the goal of better understanding customer behaviours and improving the ability to predict the impact of such behaviours on network performance. This will include predicting events in the network that impact on customers, anticipating churn, and understanding drivers of customer satisfaction.

The research will focus on both network and customer data for a multi-service environment comprising communication, broadband, Home Hub and TV services. These environments produce highly complex data of different types, granularity and temporal resolution that need to be combined to gain insight into both customer and network behaviour, along with and the quality of experience for customers. In particular, the project will focus on novel algorithms for anomaly detection, such as deep learning, and will explore how features that are computed from data streams (both metric- and event-based) can be combined in temporal Bayesian networks to reason about the probability of faults. The project will use use-cases from BT to develop tools, technologies and methods that can be tested in lab and field trials with BT users.

Additional Application Information:

On the application form applicants should select one main BTIIC project and a maximum of two further project titles in which they are interested.

During the lifetime of the project there will be opportunities to work with BT Belfast Global Development Centre and there also may be openings to spend a period of time as part of a related Internship at BT Adastral Park Research Laboratories in Martlesham, Suffolk, UK (see (  Arrangements for the internship / visits will be made by the supervisory team of the PhD project in conjunction with BT, subject to satisfactory student academic performance on the project.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%


This project is funded by: BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) Invest NI

The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of not less than £14,553 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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As Senior Engineering Manager of Analytics at Seagate Technology I utilise the learning from my PhD ever day

Adrian Johnston - PhD in Informatics

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 7 May 2018
Interview Date
May 2018

Contact Supervisor

Professor Bryan Scotney

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #242390 when applying for this PhD opportunity