University of Birmingham
BSc in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, PhD in Artificial Intelligence
B&Q cashier, school cleaner, post-doc, academic
Associate Professor of Engineering Science (Robotics)
University of Oxford and Pembroke College
I'm an Associate Professor working in the Oxford Robotics Institute, part of the Department of Engineering Science. I work on AI for robot behaviour.
I live just north of Oxford with my wife, two daughters, two chickens, two rabbits, and, thankfully, only one dog. We moved to Oxford in 2017 after a very long time in Birmingham. When I’m not researching AI or chasing robots around I enjoy all things musical (playing drums, recording, going to see bands), science (fiction), and video games.
How I Use Maths In My Job:
I use maths to model how robots interact with world around them. Since the world’s reaction to a robot’s action is not always predictable, I use methods from probability and statistics to build these models.
I work on AI methods to allow robots to plan and execute behaviour for missions that last from minutes to months.
In my research I study two main topics. The first looks at how robots can create internal models (like memories in a computer) of the world around them and how that world behaves. These models may contain information about the space a robot lives in (like a map), what kinds of things the robot can do where (e.g. that it needs to drive to a particular place to open a door or find a person), how how well it can do these things (e.g. how long it takes to drive between two locations, or how reliably it can open a door). The second strand of my research looks at how algorithms (a list of instructions in a computer) can take these models and work out the best thing for a robot to do to achieve a particular goal (e.g. delivering a drink to someone). I also study how a robot can get better at doing things over long periods of time.
Sometimes I give lectures to students. They look a bit like this:
And sometimes I give talks to the general public like this:
My Typical Day
Smoothie, train, coffee, email, meetings with amazing students, try to find time to code/read, train, family, bed.
My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURES memory is:
I'm currently trying to get my kids to watch them...
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Optimistic, clumsy, enthuiastic
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
No one in particular, I just found it was something I enjoyed doing.
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
I loved it since you generally knew if you were right or wrong.
What did you want to be after you left school?
When I was young I wanted to be a marine biologist.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably a programmer in a tech or video game company
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It's impossible to pick just one.
What's your favourite food?
Pizza, sushi, burritos, noodles, bao, bread, cake, .... pretty much everything
Tell us a joke.
Q: What is R2D2 short for? A: Because he has little legs.