Per Roald Leikanger

Disputas - Master of Science Per Roald Leikanger

Master of Science Per Roald Leikanger will on 5 July at 14:00 publically defend his thesis for the PhD degree in Nautical Operations.

Title of the PhD thesis:

«Autonomous Navigation in (the Animal and) the Machine»

Popular scientific abstract: 

Understanding the principles underlying autonomous navigation might be the most enticing quest the computational neuroscientist can undertake. Autonomous operation, also known as voluntary behavior, is the result of higher cognitive mechanisms and what is known as executive function in psychology. A rudimentary knowledge of the brain can explain where and to a certain degree how parts of a computation are expressed. However, achieving a satisfactory understanding of the neural computation involved in voluntary behavior is beyond today’s neuroscience. In contrast with the study of the brain, with a comprehensive body of theory for trying to understand system with unmatched complexity, the field of AI is to a larger extent guided by examples of achievements. Although the two sciences differ in methods, theoretical foundation, scientific vigour, and direct applicability, the intersection between the two may be a viable approach toward understanding autonomy. This project is an example of how both fields may benefit from such a venture. The findings presented in this thesis may be interesting for behavioral neuroscience, exploring how operant functions can be combined to form voluntary behavior. The presented theory can also be considered as documentation of a successful implementation of autonomous navigation in Euclidean space. 



  • Førsteamanuensis Bjørn Morten Batalden, Department of Technology and Safety, UiT (main supervisor)
  • Professor Peter Wide, Department of Technology and Safety, UiT

Evaluation Committee:

  • Professor Doina Precup, McGill University (1. Opponent)
  • Principal Research Manager Dr. Harm Van Seijen, Microsoft Research Montréal (2. Opponent)
  • Professor Lokukaluge Prasad Channa Perera, Department of Technology and Safety, UiT the Arctic University of Norway (Leader of the committee)

Leader of the public defence:

Head of Department Professor Annette Bayer, Department of Chemistry, UiT, will lead the public defense. 

Opposition ex auditorio:

If you have any questions for the candidate during the public defence, please send an e-mail to leader of the public defense ( They will announce your questions during the defense.

Trial lecture:

The trial lecture is held on Monday 4 July 14:00 in the same auditorium.

The title of the trial lecture is:

«Option discovery framework and other possible techniques to make autonomous navigation a reality in land and maritime transportation»


The trial lecture will be streamed via this link

The public defence will be streamed via this link.

When: 05.07.22 at 14.00–18.00
Where: Teknologibygget auditorium 1.022
Location / Campus: Tromsø
Target group: Employees, Students, Guests, Invited
Contact: Camilla Andreassen
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