Queen's School of Computing

Computer Science Theory

The research areas include: Parallel Computation, Unconventional Computation, Wireless Sensor Networks, Computational Geometry, Semantics of Programming Languages, Automata Theory, and Descriptional Complexity. The group is made up of Drs. Akl, Dawes, Dunfield, Rappaport, Salomaa, and Tennent.

One of the main activities of the group is to investigate the prospects of computing in a number of unconventional computational paradigms such as quantum computing and, more generally, hyper computing), and to study unconventional computational problems (for example, those computations in which physical time and physical space play a role). By anticipating the technologies of the future, Queen’s is poised to be a leader in this field.


Dr. Martin’s Database Systems Laboratory (DSL) was established over 20 years ago and has built an international reputation in the areas of database system performance, autonomic systems, and cloud computing.

The DSL has a strong track record of successful research projects and has established ongoing collaborations with IBM Canada (over 20 years) and CA Technologies (over 6 years). The collaborations with industry give leverage to acquire research funding from a variety of sources (ORF-RE, MITACS, NSERC CRD, NSERC Strategic). The DSL also collaborates with other researchers at Queen’s (Computing, Business) and in other universities (Waterloo, UWO, Universidad Complutense de Madrid). The research success and the links with industry allow the DSL to continually attract top-quality researchers.

Biomedical Computing

There are currently seven faculty members (Drs. Akl, Blostein, Ellis, Fichtinger, Glasgow, Mousavi, and Stewart) whose research focuses on biomedical computing, as well as other faculty who have interests in applying their research. These researchers hold two Queen’s Research Chairs and a Cancer Care Ontario Research Chair.

Faculty in the School are carrying out leading edge research in areas such as computer-aided surgery, bioinformatics, biomedical imaging, computational biology, and computational neuroscience. Researchers have a close partnership with the Human Mobility Research Centre, a joint Queen’s-Kingston General Hospital research facility. No other university in Canada has such a tight collaboration between computer scientists and clinicians.

Game Development and Human Computer Interaction

The game development group is among the newest in the School of Computing. The group has quickly achieved international recognition, with 18 peer- reviewed papers published over the last two years. HCI researchers include Drs. Akl, Blostein, Graham, and Stewart.

All members of the group receive NSERC Discovery funding. In addition, Dr. Graham participates in the NSERC Strategic Network SURFNet and the NCE GRAND. His lab also partners on a Trans- Atlantic Exchange Program (LEIF). Dr. Stewart holds NSERC Collaborative Health Research (CHRP) funds and is nominated for an NSERC Discovery Accelerator award this year.

Game development and human computer interaction are interdisciplinary, combining principles of computer science, engineering, psychology, and design. Much collaboration exists between computing researchers and researchers in other faculties and departments such as biology, psychology, and music, strengthening the connections and alliances within the Queen’s research community. The fundamental strength of the group is its breadth. Members of the group perform research in game design, games for health, gaming graphics, games for health, game development infrastructure, and novel gaming interactions. When performing teaching and research in game development, this allows students to access expertise across a wide range of topics, enhancing the quality of work originating from the group.


The Software group has five members (Drs. Cordy, Dingel, Dunfield, Graham, Hassan, and Zulkernine.) These researchers run a total of six separate research laboratories and supervise dozens of PhD and MSc thesis students at any time. while forming the core of the NSERC CREATE funding held by the School. The NSERC RIM Industrial Research Chair is held by this group. This is the most significant Chair in Software Engineering in Canada, one of only two such chairs in the world. The group holds Canada’s only NSERC CREATE grant focused on Software Engineering issues, which is also the only NSERC CREATE program of any kind hosted in a single institution. The group holds Queen’s largest active NSERC grant, as well as two other NSERC grants in the top five research grants awarded to Queen’s University by NSERC in the past 20 years. The group holds one of only two active Ontario Research Fund Research Excellence (ORF-RE) Awards on software engineering and systems, and is a participating partner in the other. The group is a partner in the NECSIS NSERC Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) research network with IBM, General Motors, and Malina Software.

Computer Networking and Dependability

Drs. Hassanein and Zulkernine are dedicated to this research area, with both contributing to the synergy of the Software group, to each other’s research programs, and to their own independent research programs.

This is a strategic area of expertise and growth for both the School and for Queen’s. This research program successfully exploits the software engineering and computer networking research excellence that currently exists at Queen’s University for addressing the challenges in creating computer networks and software that are robust, environmentally friendly, and secure.

Data Mining

Both Dr. Hassan and Dr. Skillicorn are world leaders in research areas where data mining is critical. Several other faculty members carry out research in which data mining is central. The NSERC CREATE program in ultra-large software systems exists largely because of the presence of a constellation of researchers whose work uses data mining extensively.

Dr. Hassan’s research already transfers directly into RIM and IBM; the use of data mining in Software Engineering is one of the fastest growing areas due to the availability of data from software projects and the push for empirically validated results. Related work by Cordy will contribute to his extensive collaboration with auto companies. Dr. Skillicorn consults with and briefs extensively in the intelligence community. His collaborations with Defence Research and Development Canada have led to funding and collaborations. He has also been involved in projects funded by US Homeland Security, the US Department of Defense, the RCMP, Canada Border Services, and the Department of National Defence.

Data Analytics and Knowledge Management

At the BAMLab (Big data Analytics and Management Laboratory) Dr. Farhana Zulkernine’s team is working on cutting edge research on developing machine learning algorithms and cloud-based systems to analyze big data, and extracting and storing knowledge to design intelligent autonomous systems. Recent research projects focus on intelligent disease analytics in collaboration with medical practitioners; smart data recognition for cognitive computing; streaming and text data analytics for log, financial market and social media data analytics, and hybrid big data storage and query systems. The algorithms leverage big data processing tools such as Apache Spark, Hadoop, IBM Watson, and stream data processing engines in cloud environment. Dr. Zulkernine’s research is funded by SOSCIP, IBM, CIMVHR, CPCSSN, and Compute Canada.