Dr Matthew Craven

Dr Matthew Craven

Lecturer in Applied Mathematics

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Matthew can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Nonlinear optimisation
  • Cryptography
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Computational algebra
  • Mathematics


Lecturer in Applied Mathematics (nominated for SSTAR awards in the categories of "Inspirational Teaching" and "Sensational Programme Lead").

Deputy Associate Head for Teaching and Learning (SECaM)

Lead of the Plymouth GPU Research Center and the Big Data research group.

Programme Manager for the (six) Foundation Year Technology programmes in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Stage Tutor and Senior Personal Tutor for four of these programmes.

Member of the University Senate.

School disability and mental health champion. Certified Mental Health First Aider.

Admissions Tutor for BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Foundation Year. Assistant Admissions Tutor for Mathematical Sciences.
Applied Mathematics seminar joint organiser - if you wish to give a seminar then please contact me. (Current seminar details available on CMS seminars calendar and UoP Mathematical Sciences Seminar Page.)


FHEA (Higher Education Academy)

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice

PhD in Mathematics (University of Manchester, UK)

Professional membership

Member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
Member of the London Mathematical Society
Member of the Foundation Year Network

Teaching interests


2019-20 Sem 2:

  • MATH056 Mathematics II
  • MATH059 Mathematical Investigations
  • MATH2604 Mathematical Methods and Applications
  • MATH3628 Final Year Mathematics Projects
2019-20 Sem 1:
  • MATH051 * Mathematical Methods I
  • MATH054 * Mathematics for Computing
  • MATH055 Mathematics I
  • MATH3628 Final Year Mathematics Projects
2018-19 Sem 2:
  • MATH056 Mathematics 2
  • MATH2604 Mathematical Methods and Applications
  • MATH3628 Final Year Mathematics Projects
  • PROJ517 - MSc projects for Big Data and Machine Learning
  • CPD courses on Big Data (April 2019) and Introduction to RStudio (January 2020), both in conjunction with the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab at the University of Plymouth.
  • GS19 * Introduction to R for research staff and PhD students - Doctoral College

* denotes module leadership.

I also have many years of teaching experience in many different venues and levels, from foundation year to MSc levels and PhD workshops. I have a proven track record of taking student research to publication, with articles in LNCS and Plymouth Student Scientist.

Staff serving as external examiners

PhD External at University of Greenwich (2019)

Research interests

Applications of Artificial Intelligence and HPC:
  • Hyperheuristics and machine learning for discovery of symbolic objects
  • Offshore renewable energy
  • Group-theoretic cryptanalysis
  • Copulas and combinatorial optimisation in financial mathematics
  • Real time visualisation and performance analysis of algorithms (particularly Evolutionary Algorithms and variants)
  • Structure-preserving mappings and algorithms
  • Mathematics education
In many of the above I make use of parallel computation on an HPC cluster and/or GPUs.

Current PhD Students:

(2016 - present) T. Alotaibi, Large Scale Portfolio Optimisation Using Heuristic Algorithms Built Around Copula Financial Models (Director of Studies)
(2019 - present) M. Walter, Understanding Optimisation Processes with Biologically-Inspired Visualisations (2nd Supervisor)
(2020 - present) A. Verulkar, Game-Theoretic Approaches Towards Insider Threat Detection and Mitigation (Director of Studies)

Other research

I am an external member of the Cybersecurity research group at the University of Abertay Dundee.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD Internal Examiner at the University of Plymouth in March 2020.

Grants & contracts

Externally Funded Projects:

2014-2017: NVIDIA: Award of NVIDIA GPU Research Center. (Principal investigator.)
Seven CMS staff and one colleague in Computing carried out research ranging from Particle Physics, Industrial Engineering to Cryptanalysis supported by hardware from NVIDIA. Successfully renewed in 2015 and 2016. Since then, the centre has continued as a pan-school initiative in the guise of the Plymouth GPU Research Centre.

2016: Medicem: "Clinical Assessment of the WIOL-CF". P. Buckhurst, H. Buckhurst, P. Hewson, M. Craven.

Other Publications

Several journal papers currently submitted or in preparation (as of 14/01/20):

  • B. Rowlingson, N. Pearce, M. J. Craven, J. Eales, The Effect of Travel Distance on Student Retention in Higher Education, in progress.

  • M. J. Craven, J. Sharp, Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Foundation Year in Mathematics and the impact on student recruitment and retention, in progress.

  • D. J. Walker, M. J. Craven, A Visualisation-Based Benchmarking Approach in Water System Design, in progress.

Craven M & Graham D 0 A Matrix-Based Evolutionary Algorithm for Cardinality-Constrained Portfolio Optimisation. 01/01/1900 01/01/1900 PEARL
Craven M & Woodward J 0 Instances for Group-Theoretic Cryptology. 01/01/1900 01/01/1900 PEARL
Graham D & Craven MJ 0 Sifted QP solutions for portfolio optimisation problems dataset. 01/01/1900 01/01/1900 PEARL

Key publications are highlighted

Graham D & Craven M 2020 'An Exact Algorithm for Small-Cardinality Constrained Portfolio Optimisation' Journal of the Operational Research Society 1-17 , DOI PEARL
Walker D & Craven M 2019 'Identifying Good Algorithm Parameters in Evolutionary Multi- and Many-Objective Optimisation: A Visualisation Approach' Applied Soft Computing 105902-105902 , DOI PEARL
Craven MJ & Sharp J 2018 '"The Mathematics Problem": A Plymouth Foundation Year Case Study' Journal of the Foundation Year Network 1, 23-35 Publisher Site PEARL
Craven M 2017 'Adversarial Risk Analysis D. L. Banks, J. Rios and D. Ríos Insua 2015 Boca Raton, CRC Press 214 pp., £57.99 (e-book £55.09) ISBN 978-1-498-71239-2' Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) 180, (2) 682-682 , DOI
Craven MJ & Robertz D 2016 'A parallel evolutionary approach to solving systems of equations in polycyclic groups' Groups Complexity Cryptology , DOI PEARL
Pournouri S & Craven M 2014 'E-business, recent threats and security countermeasures' International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics 6, (3) 169-169 , DOI
Craven M 2012 'Building on Workplace Simulation within the Context of First Year Undergraduate Civil Engineering' Professional Practice in Higher Education Teaching (1) 19-25
Craven MJ & Jimbo HC 2012 'Evolutionary algorithm solution of the multiple conjugacy search problem in groups, and its applications to cryptography' Groups - Complexity - Cryptology 4, (1) , DOI
James G, Dyke P, Searl J, Craven M & Wei Y 2020 Modern Engineering Mathematics. 6 Pearson Education
James G, Dyke PPG, Burley D, Clements D, Steele N, Searl J, Wright J, Craven MJ, Reis T & Stander J 2018 Advanced Modern Engineering Mathematics. Pearson
Craven MJ 2008 'An Evolutionary Algorithm for the Solution of Two-Variable Word Equations in Partially Commutative Groups' Recent Advances in Evolutionary Computation for Combinatorial Optimization Springer Berlin Heidelberg 3-19 , DOI
Conference Papers
Walter M, Walker D & Craven M 2020 'Visualising Evolution History in Multi- and Many-Objective Optimisation' Parallel Problem Solving from Nature 2020 9-/-0/2020 9-/-0/2020 PEARL
Alotaibi T & Craven M 2019 'Efficient Frontiers in Portfolio Optimisation with Minimum Proportion Constraints' GECCO 2019 7-/-0/2019 7-/-0/2019 ACM 358-359 , DOI PEARL
Walker D & Craven MJ 2018 'Visualising the Operation of Evolutionary Algorithms Optimising Water Distribution Network Design Problems' 13th International Conference on Hydroinformatics Palermo, Italy 7-/-0/2018 7-/-0/2018 , DOI PEARL
Walker D & Craven MJ 2018 'Toward the Online Visualisation of Algorithm Performance for Parameter Selection' EvoApplications 2018 Parma, Italy 4-/-0/2018 4-/-0/2018 Springer , DOI PEARL
Dash W & Craven MJ 2017 'Exploring Botnet Evolution via Multidimensional Models and Visualisation' STM 2017 Oslo, Norway 9-/-0/2017 9-/-0/2017 , DOI PEARL
Craven MJ & Martin SP 2017 'BBIOS: A Characterization of Evolutionary Algorithm Stability' GECCO 2017 Berlin, Germany 7-/-0/2017 7-/-0/2017 ACM , DOI PEARL
Craven MJ & Graham DI 2017 'Exploring the (Efficient) Frontiers of Portfolio Optimization' GECCO 2017 Berlin, Germany 7-/-0/2017 7-/-0/2017 ACM , DOI PEARL
Craven MJ & Jimbo HC 2014 'EA stability visualization' the 2014 conference companion 7-/-0/2014 7-/-0/2014 ACM Press , DOI
Ball L & Craven M 2013 'Automated Counter-Terrorism' 2013 European Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference (EISIC) 8-/-0/2013 8-/-0/2013 IEEE , DOI
Carmichael D, Craven M, Davidson M & Richmond G 2013 'Social Learning Space: Supporting Students Articulating from FE to HE by Utilising Social Media Technology' Proc. Intl. Conf. Enhancement and Innovation in HE 6-/-0/2013 6-/-0/2013
Craven MJ & Jimbo HC 2013 'An EA for portfolio selection over multiple investment periods with exponential transaction costs' Proceeding of the fifteenth annual conference companion 7-/-0/2013 7-/-0/2013 ACM Press , DOI
Jimbo HC & Craven MJ 2012 'A dynamical model of cancer chemotherapy with disturbance' the fourteenth international conference 7-/-0/2012 7-/-0/2012 ACM Press , DOI
Craven MJ & Jimbo HC 2011 'A Kolmogorov-Type Stability Measure for Evolutionary Algorithms' 1-/-0/1900 1-/-0/1900 Springer Berlin Heidelberg 26-37 , DOI
Craven MJ 2007 'Genetic algorithms for word problems in partially commutative groups' 1-/-0/1900 1-/-0/1900 48-59

Reports & invited lectures

2020 "Inclusion for Foundation Year Mathematics Post Covid-19", FYNAC20, Univ. East Anglia, UK. Also, invited panel discussion.

2020 (with M. J. Walter and D. J. Walker) "Visualising Evolution History in Multi- and Many-Objective Optimisation", PPSN, Leiden, Netherlands.

2019 (with T. Alotaibi and P. Tziogkidis) "Constructing Class-Based Portfolios on Gulf Markets with Metaheuristics", OR-61, Kent, UK.

2019 (with T. Alotaibi) "Efficient Frontiers in Portfolio Optimisation with Minimum Proportion Constraints", GECCO 2019, Prague, Czech Republic.

2019 (with J. Sharp) "Combatting the Deficit Model in Foundation Year Mathematics: Ethical Admissions and Inclusive Curricula", FYNAC19, Univ. Sussex, UK.

2019 "Group-Theoretic Cryptanalysis Using Hyperheuristics", Queen Mary University of London, UK. 
2019 "Evolution of Cryptanalytic Attacks via Hyperheuristics", Big Data Group, Plymouth, UK.   

2018 (with J. Sharp) "Exploring the Frontiers of Foundation Years in Mathematics - An Update on a Work in Progress", FYNAC18, Nottingham, UK.

2018 (with D. J. Walker) "Visualising the Operation of Evolutionary Algorithms Optimising Water Distribution Network Design Problems", HIC 2018, Palermo, Italy.

2018 (with D. J. Walker) "Toward the Online Visualisation of Algorithm Performance for Parameter Selection", EVOIndustry, Parma, Italy.

2018 "The Plymouth GPU Research Centre, Big Data Group", Plymouth, UK.

2017 (with W. Dash) "Exploring Botnet Evolution via Multidimensional Models and Visualisation", STM (ESORICS) 2017, Oslo, Norway.

2017 (with D. I. Graham) "Exploring the (Efficient) Frontiers of Portfolio Optimization", GECCO2017, Berlin, Germany.

2017 (with S. P. Martin) "BBIOS: A Characterization of Evolutionary Algorithm Stability", GECCO2017, Berlin, Germany.

2017 (with J. Sharp, M. Lavelle and C. Christopher) "Exploring the Frontiers of Foundation Years in Mathematics - An Enhanced Transition", FYNAC'17, Warwick, UK.

2016 "Group Cryptography", Plymouth, UK.

2016 "Portfolio Optimisation in Financial Mathematics", Plymouth, UK.

2016 (with J. R. Woodward) "The Mappings Project", Stirling, UK.

2016 "How to Break Cryptographic Schemes with Monte-Carlo Methods and High-Performance Computing", Stirling, UK.

2016 "Big Data: Machine Learning, Heuristic Methods and the Future of Cybersecurity in HPC Environments", Invited keynote funded by SICSA, Big Data in Cybersecurity Conference, Napier University, UK.

2016 "Monte-Carlo Attacks on Cryptographic Protocols", Hull, UK.

2015 "Information Security and Evolutionary Techniques", Stirling, UK.

2014 "A Smörgåsbord of Applied Mathematical Treats", Plymouth, UK.

2014 "EA Stability Visualization: Perturbations, Metrics and Performance", GECCO2014, Vancouver, Canada.

2014 "Evolutionary Algorithms in Group Theory with an Application to Public Key Cryptography", Plymouth, UK.

Other academic activities

  • I have taught many Royal Institute Mathematics Masterclasses and outreach events, the most recent in July 2019.
  • I regularly lead sessions at Mathematical Sciences open and applicant days for undergraduate students.
  • I review for the Journal of Operational Research (JORS) and Applied Soft Computing, among others. I was a Programme Committee member for the GECCO-UP Workshop 2013 and GECCO 2019, and a Review Committee member for the VizGEC Workshop in 2015-2019.
  • I review EPSRC grant applications in cryptography.
  • I lead the Big Data Group, and also the Plymouth GPU Research Centre.

Additional information

I am always happy to hear from prospective PhD students in the areas specified in my research section, and in particular, Group-Theoretic Cryptology and Financial Mathematics. For informal enquiries, please contact me directly. To apply officially for a PhD position at Plymouth, please click here.