Articles, papers and talks

I have been exceptionally lucky in my career. I received an excellent education from the University of Leeds. I was lucky enough to work for Apple for four critical years. I have worked at six startups - each a unique and fascinating experience. I spent four years at Google.

I have written a number of articles about computer science

A hybrid approach to concept extraction and recognition-based matching in the domain of human resources

ICTAI 2004. 16th IEEE International Conference on Tools with Artificial Intelligence, 2004

A paper describing the Convex system for extracting concepts from resumes and subsequently matching the best qualified candidates to jobs. A blend of knowledge-based and speculative concept extraction provides high quality results even outside the scope of the built-in knowledge. A comparison test shows the results found by Convex are significantly better than those found by engines using a keyword or statistical conceptual approach.

Google Squared: Web scale, open domain information extraction and presentation

ECIR 2010 conference

An overview of the Google Squared project, presented at the 2010 European Conference on Information Retrieval

The basics of Computer Science


Five articles introducing the most important principles of Computer Science to a non-technical audience

Why software is eating the world


How everything is becoming software

The return of the tinkerer

Huffington Post

The impact of the Raspberry Pi and how it will usher in a new age of the hobbyist programmer

Why we owe it all to Alan Turing


The critical importance of the life and work of Alan Turing

Why every child should learn to code

The Guardian

Why every child should learn to code, because it promotes computational thinking


I have distinctly mixed feelings about software patents. Many egregiously bad patents have been granted and patent trolls are a real threat to innovation. On the other hand, there are also ideas worth protecting. I won't judge which categories the following ideas fall into, but when you work at large companies like Apple and Google, you often end up with patents. Here are some of mine:

  • QuickTime Player (Apple) I led the engineering team that built Apple's first "brushed metal" application. This was the application that started Apple's "skeuomorphism" cult. The team, including Steve Jobs, were awarded three patents for the user interface: media playback timeline,
  • SmartMatch (Guru/Unicru)An intelligent search engine that was able to match job candidates to jobs, using a hybrid of ontologies and machine learning.
  • Squared (Google)Google's first semantic search engine - it extracted hundreds of millions of objects and their attribues from the web and was able to do attribute search across them.
  • Blueprint (Google)A proposal to build an easy to use database system with a HyperCard-like user interface