Sri Lanka is paying greater attention to its relations with East and Southern Africa, External Affairs Minister Professor G.L Peiris said.He said this when he met President James Alix Michel of the Seychelles today. The minister is currently on an official visit to the Seychelles. President Michel welcomed with enthusiasm the initiatives, already in progress, in respect of action in the education and energy sectors. He said that the Seychelles would like to facilitate investment from Sri Lanka into the hospital and hydro-power areas. Sri Lankan inputs into the Marine Training Institute of the Seychelles would be of great value, he said. He expressed satisfaction regarding current plans for co-operation in the banking sector. President Michel, who appreciated Sri Lanka’s active role within the Indian Ocean Regional Association for Co-operation (IORAC), welcomed Sri Lanka’s plans to join the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC). These structures, he observed, would serve to provide an effective framework for more intensive co-operation between the two countries with regard to such matters as the control of piracy and the exploitation of ocean resources without environmental damage. President Michel laid particular stress on airline connectivity as an aid to both tourism and trade. An agreement is to be signed between the two countries in this regard next month. Prof. Peiris said that this would be of interest to Sri Lanka, especially because of the access it provides to East and Southern Africa at a time when the country is paying greater attention to its relations with this region.On the subject of tourism, President Michel commented on the scope for co-operation between Sri Lanka and the Seychelles with regard to smaller cruise ships sailing among Islands in the Indian Ocean– an activity for which there is today substantial demand. Health tourism and eco-tourism were also identified as priority areas. The External Affairs Ministry said that President Michel had spoken on the shared priorities and objectives of both countries saying there is immense scope for collaboration between Sri Lanka and the Seychelles.
From left: Adam Stirtan, Barend Jacobus Leonard, Beatrice Ombuki-Berman, Andries Angelbrecht, Sheridan Houghton (chair of Brock’s Computer Science department) and Kyle Harrison.Brock’s Computer Science department recently hosted a visiting scholar and graduate student from a South African university.Professor Andries Engelbrecht and his graduate student Barend Jacobus Leonard visited from the University of Pretoria. Their host was Beatrice Ombuki-Berman, associate professor of Computer Science.Engelbrecht serves as the South African Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence and is the head of his university’s Computer Science department, where he leads the Computational Intelligence Research Group (CIRG). The group’s research is in the broad realm of computational intelligence, doing work in the fields of swarm intelligence, evolutionary computation artificial neural networks and artificial immune systems. The Bio-Inspired Computational Intelligence group (BICIG), led by Ombuki-Berman and Brian Ross, does similar research at Brock.During his visit, Engelbrecht gave a research talk entitled “Particle Swarm Optimization in Dynamic Environments.” Barend gave tutorials to graduate and honors students on CILib (computational intelligence library) Java library.They also discussed collaborative initiatives with members of the department and two research projects have already been initiated. Ombuki-Berman and two of her students, Adam Stirtan (MSc student) and Kyle Harrison (honors thesis), will work with Engelbrecht’s team to develop self-adaptive particle swarms for multi-objective dynamic environments. Stirtan will work with the group in South Africa for two weeks in January 2012.Engelbrecht also met with International Services and Programs Abroad. Brock has a memorandum of co-operation with the University of Pretoria. He also met Rick Cheel, Interim Dean of Mathematics and Science.“International collaborations like this are strengthening Brock’s global reputation,” Cheel said. “The research of Drs. Engelbrecht and Ombuki-Berman and their colleagues at Brock and abroad are creating new solutions to complex quantitative problems that will have wide application of significant value.”