ICON: Institute for COgnitive iNformatics

University of Sheffield


Welcome to ICON, the new institute for Cognitive Informatics at the University of Sheffield. ICON brings together Sheffield's multidisciplinary strengths in Language, Web, Information, Speech and Hearing research. ICON provides infrastructure for collaborative research, both internally and with our research partners. The Sheffield community in these fields is one of the largest and strongest worldwide: ICON reaches several hundred academics and researchers across 7 Departments and 5 Faculties. Funding for the research teams founding the institute is currently running at more than £1 million yearly, and last year attracted £5 million in new grant income. The institute is intended to be a focal point for this research and to promote and extend interdisciplinary links between fields.

Cognitive Informatics is the study of the computational mechanisms that underlie human-like methods for processing information, or computational systems that mimic or augment such methods. It is a new multidisciplinary field concerned with natural systems (people and other living organisms), artificial systems (computers and other computational devices) and hybrids of the two (e.g. for assistive technology). The scientific goal in Cognitive Informatics is to develop a unified account of pattern and information processing that explains the organisation and structure of communicative information such as speech and language as well as biological and chemical structures. The technological goal of Cognitive Informatics is the implementation of engineering solutions such as multimodal interactive agent-based systems, data, text and web mining, multimedia content management, communicative robots and real-time virtual environments for distributed collaborative work.

Board members:

Founding Departments:

  • Department of Computer Science (research groups: Natural Language Processing; Speech and Hearing).
    In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 65% of our research work was rated world leading or internationally excellent in terms of its originality, significance and rigour. According to the widely used "research power" measure (research quality multiplied by volume) the Department is ranked 15th out of 81 similar departments in the UK.
  • Department of Information Studies (research groups: Information Retrieval; Cheominformatics).
    The 2008 RAE ranked the Department first amongst all library and information science departments in the UK with 65% of research graded in the top 4* (world leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) categories. This latest success continues our outstanding track record in the RAE, where we have been awarded the highest possible grade in every assessment exercise to date.