There has been a lot going on recently and I thought I would give an update of the main projects I have been working on. I will aim to post more detailed updates and results as things progress and confidentiality agreements allow.
I recently attended a workshop with Rescue Global (RG) and this blog post captures some of the discussion and points that are interesting and useful to digital humanitarians like myself. The better we understand how disaster response works (or doesn’t work) the better we can build our tools and get them used in anger.
One of the projects I have been involved with recently was a collaboration with the Agents, Interaction, and Complexity group at University of Southampton. The same group who we are also involved with in the Orchid project. This particular project was on Measuring and Predicting Departures from Routine in Human Mobility, building on the PhD work by James McInerney (now at Princeton) and his paper Breaking the Habit.
It is well known that humans generally follow very regular and predicable mobility patterns, both spatially and temporally. Lots of work has looked at exploiting and predicting those patterns but much less so on looking specifically at departures from those regular patterns. What can we learn from those departures from routine? How predictable are they?
Update: Unfortunately I purposely withdrew from the DL meetup after a very unprofessional experience with the co-organisers Persontyle. I Instead I joined forces with the London Machine Learning Meetup.
It has been almost half a year since I announced I would take over the London Big-O Algorithms meetup and bring it back to life. 5 Months later I am very happy to say all has gone extremely well, interest and attendance far exceeding my expectations. We have had a great set of meetups so far and all speaker slots are booked until June with talks from Google, The founder of ZeroMQ, Microsoft Bing, and many others. Really nice to see there is strong interest in good, solid, technical content.
However, enough about Big-O. This post is to announce a new meetup group that I have been convinced into setting up. The Deep Learning London meetup. The aim of this group is to bring together people interested in the family of machine learning methods that are concerned with learning distributed, hierarchical (“deep”) representations. Neural Networks being the most popular implementation. Its an area I have been looking at for a while and will be getting into quite deeply over the next couple of months (no pun intended). The format will be based around guest speakers sharing new research ideas and applications covering a wide range of fields from computer vision and natural language processing to autonomous systems and prognostics.
Note we are not assuming deep learning is the be-all end-all silver bullet of machine learning and welcome critical thoughts and benchmarks.
Sound interesting? Get in touch!
Last week I attended the Autonomous Systems Showcase event at the University of Southampton. The focus of the event was to bring together industry, government and academia “to explore commercial and research opportunities to deliver the next generation of aerospace, marine, defence and other advanced systems technology to keep the UK at the forefront of these important industries“.
Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, delivered the opening keynote. Other speakers included Sir Brian Burridge, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Finmeccanica UK, and Michael Pickwoad, Production Designer from Dr Who, who talked about his creative process and the relationship between science and fiction.
The event also included industry and university showcase stands with particular emphasis on the work Southampton has done, and is doing, around unmanned aerial vehicles and underwater devices.
Update: We now are an official association!
I recently attended the first Workshop for Research Software Engineers at Oxford University. Organized by the SSI, I was on the steering committee and this event came out of our position paper last year. Hot on the heels of a recent article in the Times Higher Education, the aim of the workshop was to bring those people together who work in research labs but actually spend most of their time writing software.
Topics of discussion focused around the importance of software in research, software development workflows, quality control, notable tools, getting recognition for software (a real problem in academia), the role of funding bodies, and career progression. Continue reading
Earlier this month a report was released entitled: A strategic vision for UK e-infrastructure: a roadmap for the development and use of advanced computing, data and networks.
The report was chaired by Professor Dominic Tildesley (a University of Southampton alumni by the way) and was commissioned by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. It was triggered by a July 2011 meeting bringing together academics, industrialists, hardware and software suppliers and experts from the Research Councils to discuss the establishment of an e-infrastructure for the UK. The participants concluded at the end of the meeting:
.. we are experiencing a paradigm shift in which the scientific process and innovation are beginning in the virtual world of modelling and simulation before moving to the real world of the laboratory. [… and] that to exploit this revolution we would require a fresh, collaborative approach to software development to bring scientific, industrial and public sector users and hardware and software developers and vendors closer together.
A couple of months ago I was asked by somebody at the Global South Forum to give a talk about some technology related topic. My initial idea was to talk about Taarifa but after some thought I decided to open it up more and talk about the wider ICT4D field. In particular related to my own experiences and assumptions.
I have been wrestling with the whole concept of ICT4D for some time and thought it would be a good opportunity to engage with “the experts”.
My slides are below. Though they contain very little text the narrative should be clear from the pictures. As background reading I strongly suggest Can Technology end Poverty from Kentaro Toyama and The Subtle Condescension of “ICT4D” by Erik Hersman.
Some months ago I attended the 2012 Collaborations workshop in Oxford, something which I blogged about in my post The Researcher Programmer, a New Species?.
This then triggered some discussion on the LinkedIn group for scientific software engineering, and that eventually led to a collaborative paper, presented at this weeks Digital Research Conference, also in Oxford.
I didn’t find a link to any kind of proceedings and in the interest of the discussion thought I would reproduce the paper here.
I realized I never really blogged about this, but the tools I put together were used to design another airframe. The mission was initially quite secretive but now I can reveal that we were working together with the BBC to develop a UAV that could be used to provide footage at the Olympics. As added bonus the Blue Peter show would be involved as well and run a competition to name the aircraft and provide a colorful design.