Photo:

David Corne

OMG I've been evicted! OK, now I'm rooting for Helen

Favourite Thing: Write computer programs – it’s just like building things with Lego.

My CV

School:

Primary: Fleetwood (London N16); Secondary: Central Foundation (London EC1)

University:

City of London Polytechnic, Maths (with a bit of Psychology); Edinburgh, Masters in Artificial Intelligence

Work History:

Researcher at Edinburgh, Lecturer at Reading, Reader at Reading, Professor at Exeter, Professor at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Employer:

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Current Job:

Professor of Computer Science, Director of Research for the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences

Me and my work

I work in artificial intelligence – which is about trying to get computers to do clever things.

My Typical Day

I think about a problem for two hours, then browse the web for inspiration, have some meetings, do some paperwork, and then start implementing my solution to the problem I was thinking of, before I have actually solved it.

What I'd do with the money

Buy a sophisticated programmable robot – partly for my own research, mainly to demo in front of school students, to get them interested in computer science. They can program it to roam around the classroom finding things etc.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

trying very hard

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Eddi Reader

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Riding a floating tricycle in Honolulu

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

the ability to fall asleep at will / eternal youth / three more wishes

What did you want to be after you left school?

rich

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

yes, and it was someone else’s fault!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

design an algorithm that is good at solving problems with several different factors to trade off at the same time — e.g. you need an engine to be as efficient as possible, as quiet as possible, as easy to build as possible, as [other things] as possible, all at the same time. I designed one of the most often-used methods for doing that, which tends to find really good solutions that do well on all of the objectives.

Tell us a joke.

I really don’t like people with fewer than ten toes. I’m lacktoes intolerant.