Division for Research Development
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Capitec Chair in Applied AI

​The Capitec Chair of Applied Artificial Intelligence is Prof Bruce (William) Watson. The Chair’s research group has 19 active members, including two applied researchers, three postdoctoral researchers, and 10 PhD & master’s students. The group also has 10 affiliated research associates.
Through in-house strengths and selective collaboration using an extensive global network, the Capitec Chair in Applied AI does fundamental and applied AI research, with a specific focus on the design of correct, fast, and elegant algorithms for solving important problems particularly relevant to emerging economies of the Global South, such as securing the cyber vulnerable, South African critical infrastructure, and decision-making processes (also known as knowledge security). Additional research directions include those that are based on the same subfields of AI and algorithms and therefore utilize the group’s expertise in algorithms for pattern recognition, such as projects in computational biology, disease surveillance, and optimization of biocultures.

Prof. Watson is an internationally recognized researcher and industry expert in the correctness and safety of algorithms – especially for glass-box (‘explainable AI’) correlation, and pattern and anomaly recognition. He has extensive expertise in programming language design, especially domain-specific ones, and is the inventor of several different kinds of algorithms that are known for being very fast but also proven to be correct based on a unique methodology for software development (Correctness-by-Construction). The methodology and calculi used by the Chair in Applied AI can be considered a secret weapon in the design of an entirely new generation of algorithms ready to be applied in AI and Quantum Computing.

The Chair’s research group are global leaders in calculi for the design of algorithms, as well as for taxonomizing them. These algorithms are particularly aimed at finding patterns in data and for incrementally building structures for knowledge representation, of both relationships and processes. Several such algorithms invented by the Chair’s research group are the domain leaders in areas such as cybersecurity and -warfare, social network analysis (SNA), complex event processing for SmartCities and lightweight IoT, computational linguistics, bioinformatics, etc. The Chair’s research experience extends to related areas such as blockchain and post-quantum issues.
Some specific research foci of the Chair in Applied AI are:
Correctness, security, and transparency of algorithms, especially for glass-box (“explainable”) AI, Digital Twins, and autonomous systems.
Complex event processing for IoT and autonomous vehicles.
Identity, privacy, signatures, blockchain, and cryptography, including post-quantum implications and mitigations.
Cyber security, (cyber) intelligence analysis, threat/risk analysis, and cyberwarfare.
Extending and borrowing disease surveillance techniques to cybersecurity.
Safety and security of decision-making/support and knowledge dynamics.
Application areas
The research activities of the Chair in Applied AI has led to the development of expertise and knowledge in some specific domains and application areas, such as:
Cybersecurity & Cyberwarfare
Wine Science
Text Processing
Correctness of Smart Contracts and other Blockchain algorithms
Virus Processing to find commonalities
Data Science for Long Covid-19
Quantum algorithms for Cosmology

user.pngProf Bruce (William) Watson