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Date(s) - 11 Oct 2018
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Oxford e-Research Centre

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Dr Edmund Furse, Managing Director, Imitation Ltd

Allowing novices to control their computer has been a long standing goal of computer science. One way of doing this is programming by imitation, The Imitate system provides an interactive environment for the user to build a project like many other systems. It also provides tools to draw graphics, animation and browse the web. In addition it provides a wealth of procedures that allow the user to manipulate text, graphics and other objects. In this manner Imitate provides a rich environment to process data, rather like a glorified calculator. Every action that the user performs can be recorded, and with an AI model of human imitation learning, this provides the ability to synthesise a procedure from a sequence of actions. Imitate can then build an app to directly run on the user’s computer. Imitate allows novices to program a computer with no knowledge of programming and provides a rich environment for others to be more productive, imitate can also combine different examples to synthesise a conditional, and automatically recognise loops, and is thus able to synthesise a Turing machine. However modern development systems provide a much richer environment than just the ability to do pencil and paper calculations, and the talk will consider what is required in a modern “complete” development system, and the trade-off between simplicity and power. Imitate aims to be easier to use than MIT”s Scratch, and much more general purpose.

Edmund has worked in AI and Cognitive Science for over 30 years in the Universities of Warwick, Sheffield and Glamorgan. He developed the Mathematics Understander (MU) system which was capable of understanding university level mathematics texts. Out of this work came research into learning by imitation, first in a study of long division and matrix manipulation, and finally a general computational model of human imitation learning

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