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MPLS Impact Awards 2021: winners and commendations announced


Each year the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences division (MPLS) runs a competition which recognises the impact of research undertaken by researchers. Impact Awards are open to MPLS researchers at all career stages – from DPhil students to senior academics. Nominations are made across four impact categories: commercial, social, early career and public engagement with research. The Department of Computer Science has done exceptionally well this year.

Kasper Rasmussen won the Commercial Impact category, for his research on ‘Resolution of Multiple Critical Design Flaws in Bluetooth Standard’. Kasper lead research on weaknesses in wireless protocols which uncovered critical flaws in multiple parts of the Bluetooth standard (as implemented in billions of devices worldwide), demonstrating how both the Bluetooth session key establishment and the authentication procedures can be completely compromised. The research team coordinated with key industry bodies to disclose each vulnerability, allowing them to be remedied before they could be abused. The work led to changes to the Bluetooth Core Specification, and to mitigations applied by major manufacturers.

Professor Michael Wooldridge, Head of the Department of Computer Science, said: ‘Kasper and his colleagues discovered a jaw dropping bug in the Bluetooth protocol, used by hundreds of millions of people every day. Their discovery necessitated a change to the protocol, and firmware updates for billions of devices. It is wonderful work, and one of the clearest and most direct examples of impact I have seen in my department during my seven years as head.’


Members of the department were also awarded commendations in the Commercial Impact category as follows:

Georg Gottlob: Efficient Web Data Extraction and Knowledge Processing via Datalog

Georg’s research at Oxford has led to fundamental advances in efficient reasoning languages and their application to web data extraction and management. Systems developed as part of this research led to two spinout companies, Wrapidity and 


Bernardo Cuenca Grau, Ian Horrocks, Boris Motik: Enabling Applications of Ontologies in Healthcare and in Industry via Reasoning Systems

The researchers have developed state-of-the-art reasoning systems that represent important advances in exploiting the potential of semantic technologies for complex data and knowledge applications. Their open source reasoning tools are enabling applications of ontologies in areas as diverse as global healthcare IT and large-scale infrastructure design. They have also developed and commercialized RDFox, a high-performance knowledge graph and semantic reasoning engine, through the spinout company Oxford Semantic Technologies (OST).


Niki Trigoni: Improving Workforce Efficiency in Hospitals via Infrastructure-Free Indoor Localisation

Trigoni’s research group developed a frictionless infrastructure-free indoor positioning solution based on smartphones, which avoids the significant cost and effort required to deploy existing indoor location-tracking solutions. The patented technology underpins the spinout Navenio, founded by Trigoni in 2015. Navenio has applied the technology in multiple NHS trusts to build a workforce tracking and tasking solution.