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Postgraduate Admissions


Applications are invited for a joint Microsoft Research UK / EPSRC iCASE funded PhD project in the area of optical fibre communication systems.

In core optical networks that form the backbone of the global internet there is a huge quantity of metrology available ranging from signal to noise and to bit error rate measured by the transceivers through to the input and output powers of optical amplifiers and switches. The aim of this PhD project would be to use the metrology information, combined with the underpinning physics to create a digital twin of the physical optical network infrastructure. Not only would the digital twin be updated in real-time, but it would also incorporate the uncertainty into the model allowing for real-time margin allocation to improve the operation of the optical network. Ultimately it would allow the optical network to operate at the limits of performance, based on measurements of the actual infrastructure, so as to allow the throughput as a function of availability to be optimised, to give the best user experience of a given installed infrastructure.

Key challenges the student will need to consider include - 1) The choice of the models for the digital twins (including whether it is a statistical model rather than purely a deterministic physics-based model) 2) The optimal means of incorporating measurement uncertainty into the models to create the digital twin 3) How to use the digital twin to give information regarding throughput, availability etc. so as to optimise the overall performance of the optical network Ultimately the PhD aims to dramatically change the current practice regarding the design and operation of the high-availability optical networks based on a data driven, probabilistic based approach, rather than the established margin-based approach. . The student will be based in the Department of Engineering where they will have access to The Fibre Optic Communication Systems laboratory which icludes state of the art transceivers, a 1200 km of optical line system with multichannel 120 GSa/s arbitrary waveform generator and a multichannel 256 GSa/s digital oscilloscope for signal detection. They will also interact heavily with researchers from Microsoft, benefitting from discussion, insights and feedback from practitioners at Microsoft and more broadly, through greater interaction with partners in industry and academia.

The applicant should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2:1 (and preferably a Masters degree) in engineering or a related subject such as computer science, mathematics, statistics or physics. For informal enquires please contact Prof Seb Savory (email

EPSRC iCASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students. International (including EU) students will be considered for partial funding (home-level fees and maintenance).

Further details about eligibility and funding can be found at:

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions web pages, with Prof Seb Savory identified as the potential supervisor. If you have already applied but wish to be considered for this studentship please email Prof Seb Savory directly

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

Key Information

Department of Engineering

Reference: NM26431

Dates and deadlines:

Friday, 23 April, 2021
Closing Date
Monday, 31 May, 2021