Chasing the Ghost of Intelligence @ Oxford e-Research Centre
Mar 9 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Chasing the Ghost of Intelligence @ Oxford e-Research Centre | Oxford | England | United Kingdom
What is intelligence? This term, used so commonly in daily life, appears to be very hard to define. In this talk Irina Higgins will consider biological and artificial intelligence, their respective strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences, before trying to map[...]

[Event Summary] Computational Propaganda: The Impact of Algorithms and Automation on Public Life

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[Event Summary] Just a Kids Game? Think Again

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[Event Summary] The Scientific Life of Ada Lovelace

Professor Ursula Martin CBE of the University of Oxford gave a presentation on the scientific life of Ada Lovelace which is provided below for downloading.

As seemed obvious from the discussion afterwards, it was very well received, and provided an extremely interesting insight into the life and times of Ada Lovelace.

The digitisation of the papers referred to in the presentation is at

A recent article written by Professor Martin can be found at

Finally, Professor Martin has indicated that she would love to see BCS Oxfordshire members at their celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Strachey. More information can be found at


[Event Summary] 60 Years of Software

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Download the Slides

[Event Summary] Contactless Payments


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The Once and Future Turing (Strachey Lecture)

18:00 31st October 2016

The Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford

In 1951, Christopher Strachey began his career in computing. He did so as a colleague of Alan Turing, who had inspired him with a ‘Utopian’ prospectus for programming. By that time, Turing had already made far-reaching and futuristic innovations, from the definition of computability and the universal machine to the prospect of Artificial Intelligence. This talk will describe the origins and impacts of these ideas, and how wartime codebreaking allowed theory to turn into practice. After 1951, Turing was no less innovative, applying computational techniques to mathematical biology. His sudden death in 1954 meant the loss of most of this work, and its rediscovery in modern times has only added to Turing’s iconic status as a scientific visionary seeing far beyond his short life.

Andrew Hodges is the author of Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983), which inspired the 2014 film The Imitation Game

Free event, but booking essential.

The Strachey Lectures are generously supported by OxFORD Asset Management

Annual Student Prizes 2016

Oxford Brookes
The best final Year Project in a computing subject
(£150 prize plus certificate)

Plus Dr Nigel Crook, Head of Department of Computing and Communication Technologies, presenting the award to Alicia Sykes

Dr Nigel Crook, Head of Department of Computing and Communication Technologies, presenting the award to Alicia Sykes

Student Name: Alicia Sykes
Course Title: BSc Computer Science
Project Title: “Sentiment analysis on real-time social media data”.
Prize Title: BCS Prize for the Best Final Year Project
University Name: Oxford Brookes University (Department of Computing and Communication Technologies)

Oxford Brookes
The best results by a First Year student in a computing subject
(Student membership plus certificate)

Dr Nigel Crook, Head of Department of Computing and Communication Technologies, presenting the award to

Dr Nigel Crook, Head of Department of Computing and Communication Technologies, presenting the award to Fachal Riera

Student Name: Alvaro Fachal Riera
Course Title: BSc Computer Science
Prize Title: BCS Prize for the Best Results by a First Year Student
University Name: Oxford Brookes University ((Department of Computing and Communication Technologies)

Cranfield University
The best project on the ICM MSc Course

Student Name: Major Michael Peel
Course Title: ICM MSc
Prize Title:  BCS Prize for the best project on the ICM MSc Course
University Name: Cranfield University and Defence Academy of the United Kingdom

[Event Summary] Computing for a World Water Speed Record

[Event Summary] Scientific Supercomputing and Atlas 1, a 50 Year Story

[Event Summary] A Future in 3D

Cultural Heritage Preservation – looking to the future

Dr Alexy Karenowska began her talk by describing how important our buildings are to us.  Our emotional response can be as strong  as any aesthetic consideration. A loss of our cultural heritage can be deeply wounding. Alexy gave the example of  the Old Town Market Place in Warsaw which was devastated during WW2. In the 1950s it was completely restored to its pre-war appearance. Such was the priority accorded to a collection of buildings. There were many photographs and drawings available making the restoration possible.

The Million Image Database Program will preserve a record of many important structures and artefacts. There is an unfortunate and destructive trade in the sale of ancient artefacts and there is often no photographic record to prove their provenance. It is hoped that the database could help to prevent their export and sale on the open market. Ancient buildings can be under threat both from neglect or deliberate damage as in the case of Palmyra.

It is planned by February 2016 to have 5,000 3D cameras distributed in Syria and the Middle East for downloading images onto the database and in due course 1 million 3D cameras will be distributed worldwide. As there is some danger the organisers were concerned that there would not be enough volunteers in Syria to take the detailed images. But such is the importance placed on preserving their heritage that there have been many more volunteers than needed.

Work in is in progress to convert the camera images into 3D computer models and from there to actual 3D printed buildings. The project team have printed out a scale model and this is accurate in every detail, down to the moss stains under the arch.  The tops of tall buildings can be photographed by aeroplane or where that would be dangerous, such as a war zone, drones could be used.

There is proof of concept of the 3D printing of buildings. The example that Alexy gave was a Chinese project where some basic houses were printed out in 24 hours. Such rapid building could be of great use as temporary housing in disaster areas.

Alexy gave us a lively, interesting and thought provoking talk and posed such question as: should the replica be built using the original materials and to their original as new state, would the building be on the original site, should the attention to detail almost look as if deception was intended?

[Event Summary] Cultures of the Internet

BCS Bedford Branch – Making IT Good for Society

The Bedford Branch has an evening meeting on 15th March, Tuesday, at Bedford where Jeremy Barlow, one of the BCS Executives, is sharing the new vision of ‘Making IT Good for Society’.

The meeting is not a one way talk, but more a gathering of local stakeholders to work out how best we can work together in our area to serve the community.

As one of the Bedford Branch neighbouring branches, it would be great if you and/or your colleagues can join us.

Details are in the Branch website and the attached information sheet.

[Event Summary] Protect Your Light Bulb Moment

[Event Summary] Transparency Through Raw Material Traceability

[Event Summary] A Curator’s Guided Tour of the Museum of the History of Science

Dr Elizabeth Bruton gave us a brilliant guided tour, she made the exhibits come alive for us, drawing on her deep curator’s knowledge of the objects and a fund of anecdotes to make the personalities behind the exhibits truly human for us.

The Marconi story is a fascinating one in itself and we were taken from the early designs through to later iterations and the uses to which they were put. In a wireless receiver made by Marconi around 1896, first used to demonstrate utility, components were hidden in a black box so it would not be realised that others’ inventions and apparatus were being used. It is said that Marconi was an innovator rather than an inventor but perhaps better described as a great engineer and entrepreneur.  He was a man of extraordinary organising abilities and charm, bringing people together from the worlds of science, academia, business, government and the armed forces. This cross disciplinary collaboration publicised the usefulness of his wireless communications causing it to be quickly taken up in WW1. He also had the cheek of the devil and could be quite ruthless. He reneged on an understanding of future business collaboration with his champion, William Preece, engineer-in-chief of the General Post Office, who didn’t talk to him for three years after.

The ‘Dear Harry . . .’ story is a touching biography of a brilliant young scientist who would surely have won the Nobel Prize, for his work on the Periodic Table, had he survived WW1. This is also the story of the Gallipoli disaster. Arrogant leaders who thought one ‘Tommie’ was better than four Turks and who took little account of the waterless and daunting terrain. Harry had been encouraged by Ernest Rutherford, his former supervisor at the University of Manchester, not to volunteer but Elizabeth says that would have been un-thinkable, given his background. Elizabeth felt she got to know Harry really well during her research and putting on the exhibition. One of our group was a twelve year old boy who has yet to the meet the Periodic Table at school, but he has seen Henry (Harry) Moseley’s own graph produced from his research on X-ray spectra of the elements and the actual equipment on which the results were produced, what a privilege.  The wobbly entry in Harry’s mother’s diary stating that ‘Harry died’ must move anyone. The exhibition was due to end in October but because it has been so popular it is now on until the end of January.

How could we leave without paying homage to the Babbage difference engine? Ada Lovelace has her cabinet of exhibits too. Elizabeth brought our attention to three small objects, that we could well have overlooked, an early small calculator showing its evolution. This was in the process of design by Austrian engineer Curt Herzstark in the 1930s. Herzstark’s father was Jewish and so he was taken into custody in 1943, eventually finding himself at the Buchenwald concentration camp. When the Nazis found out about his considerable skills they made him work for them. He did not finish his work before the end of the war and was liberated before the Russians before travelling to Liechtenstein and persuading the Prince of Liechtenstein to get a consortium together to fund the manufacture. This little calculator was widely taken up and could compute to 16 decimal points, so very sophisticated for its time, and remained one of the most popular calculators until the development of electronic calculators in the 1970s.

We all love stories and Elizabeth told three very good ones, thank you Dr Bruton.