The Natural Computing Research & Applications Group is an interdisciplinary team based in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, operating at the intersections of disciplines including Business, Analytics, Computer Science, Statistics & Mathematics.

What is Natural Computing?

Natural Computing is the study of computational systems inspired by Nature, including Physical, Social and Biological Systems. With the ever-increasing deluge of complex data arriving at unimaginable speeds we need Smart Systems to undertake Advanced Analytics in order to detect patterns, induce models and make predictions to facilitate decision making in a constantly changing environment. These Smart Systems draw upon Natural Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Computational Intelligence and Machine Learning to develop artificial evolution, immune systems, brains and social learning in software to perform advanced analytics, which adapt over time to the changing environment.


As well developing smart computational models and problem solving tools, UCD's NCRA has a strong tradition of applying these tools to a broad range of problem domains ranging from Business Analytics, Finance, Computer Science, Design, and Architecture to Autonomic Networks, Energy Networks, Game Artificial Intelligence, Ecosystem Modelling, Music Composition, Sound Synthesis and Engineering. To date the team have been responsible for two start-ups, GameBrains and EvoMed Analytics.


The group has won over €5 Million in research funding from agencies including Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Irish Research Council, NDRC and Failte Ireland. Industry collaborators have included ICON Plc, Alcatel Lucent (Bell Labs Ireland), ESB Networks, SAS Institute, Citi and Fidelity Investments.

Event Organisation

The NCRA hosted the ACM Genetic & Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) in 2011, attracting over 600 delegates from 52 countries. Tony & Mike co-founded the EvoBAFIN event, which has been running annually since 2007 co-located at the EvoStar events. EvoBAFIN is themed around Evolutionary and Natural Computation in Business Analytics, Economics and Finance.

Short History of the Group

The Natural Computing Research & Applications Group was co-founded by Prof Michael O'Neill and Prof Anthony Brabazon on the 1 January 2006 when Mike joined the UCD School of Computer Science. During the first nine years (2006-2015) the group resided in UCD's Complex & Adaptive Systems Laboratory (UCD's Institute for interdisciplinary research), which provided discipline-neutral space to allow its researchers from the School of Business and School of Computer Science to sit alongside each other (in 8 Belfield Office Park 2006-2014 and the UCD O'Brien Centre for Science (East) 2014-2015). Following recruitment of Dr James McDermott, Dr Miguel Nicolau and Prof Michael O'Neill by the UCD School of Business, the group was no longer in need of College-neutral space provided by CASL, and on 5th October 2015 the group moved to the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock Campus.

UCD Natural Computing Research & Applications Group
Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School
University College Dublin
Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock
A94 XF34

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