What scientific literature?

One of the great things about doing an academic qualification through a major institution like the University of Manchester is the access you get to scientific literature.

A huge number of research papers are locked away behind paywalls. Sites like Google Scholar can show you what’s out there, but you’ll only be able to see abstracts for most of it. To get at the good stuff, you’ll be paying tens of poinds Sterling. That doesn’t sound like much, but to do a reasonably rigorous literature search you’d need to access lots of them. I’ve probably read a few dozen papers now that are related to my project, and many that weren’t – which would have been annoying if I’d paid for them individually. I expect there must be ways to pay for bulk access, but there are also many different sources you might need to get that access with too.

It seems like a shame this information needs to be locked away but of course it’s additional revenue for some organisation – hopefully the money goes back into supporting research and researchers.

The breadth and depth of research going on out there on every conceivable topic is astonishing. Getting access to all that stuff is a definite plus.


A Very Geeky Dilemma

A new module has appeared on the University of Manchester CS horizon, and it’s temping me away from wrapping up the taught course with my previous front-runner ‘Ontology Engineering for the Semantic Web‘.

Yep, COMP61032 ‘Optimization for Learning, Planning and Problem Solving‘ has appeared in my field of vision and it looks a bit hardcore. It’s part of the ‘Learning from Data’ theme – I guess optimisation is a natural partner to machine learning approaches, owing to the need to chew up a whole lot of information as quickly as possible.

Why is it tempting? Lots of algorithms and computational complexity going on – it’s one of those modules that’s shouting “Bet you can’t pass me”. More than that though, it’s modules with that computational theory slant that have shown me moments of catch-your-breath clarity in the way that messy practicality distils to elegant mathematical beauty. It’s a great sense of satisfaction when you persevere and get to see it.

So – Ontology engineering, or Optimisation? Hey, I warned you it was geeky.

Optimization for learning, planning and problem-solving

Machine Learning Turing Lecture in Manchester

Dr. Christopher Bishop will be giving the Turing Lecture this year on the topic of Machine Learning.

Dr. Bishop is a highly respected figure in the Machine Learning discipline and wrote Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning, a great place to start if you’re interested in the subject. It’s certainly on my bookshelf.

He’s giving the lecture in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester, and Manchester’s lecture is on the 17th March.