All posts by Rose

‘Alan Turing: His Work and Impact’ wins award for academic publishing

Prof Mark Bishop has won a top award for academic publishing for his contribution to Alan Turing: his Work and Impact, which won the R.R. Hawkins award at the 2013 Prose Awards.

In popular culture, the great English polymath Alan Turing is perhaps best remembered for his work on the BOMBE, the giant electro-mechanical devices that were used for Ultra secret intelligence work carried out at Bletchley Park in World War II. This work would help break the German Enigma machine’s encrypted war-time signals; work so valuable it subsequently led Churchill to reflect that “it was thanks to Ultra that we won the war”.

In my area of research – Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) – Turing is better known for the seminal reflections on machine intelligence outlined in his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence.

This paper focussed on the core philosophical question: “can a machine think?” This is a question which, in its literal form, Turing famously described as being “too meaningless to deserve discussion”.

Continue reading ‘Alan Turing: His Work and Impact’ wins award for academic publishing

The computer game to solve a biological puzzle

A computer game hoping to solve one of biology’s biggest mysteries is being developed by academics at Goldsmiths, University of London and Imperial College London.

Protein docking is one of the big unsolved biological problems that DockIt, the game currently under development, will aim to solve. Central to a protein’s biological activity is that it often docks onto another protein, forming a molecular structure, but the 3D shape of this remains difficult to model.

Understanding the docking of proteins can have major benefits to science – including improved knowledge of all cellular processes, and the practical application of drug design.

Read the full article here.


An algorithm walks into a bar and orders a new joke: Prof Simon Colton on Radio 4

Professor Simon Colton leads the Computational Creativity Group here at Goldsmiths (based in the Department of Computing). Last week he appeared on BBC Radio 4 in comedian, Natalie Haynes’ documentary about computational creativity and humour. She writes:

Simon Colton of Goldsmiths College showed me how his algorithms search the day’s newspapers to calculate, from the headlines, whether it’s a happy day or a sad one. The programme’s mood is thus decided, and it can write something akin to poetry by picking key words from the newspaper articles themselves. Mr Colton’s computer can also turn Twitter into verse, finding short chunks of prose which fit the mood he’s chosen, then picking tweets which rhyme and scan and putting them in a meaningful order.

You can read Natalie’s full piece in The Independant here.

Interview with Dr Rebecca Fiebrink

You’ve joined Goldsmiths from Princeton University. What made you decide to move here?
I came to Goldsmiths because I’m excited by the focus on high-quality interdisciplinary teaching and research that I see within the Department of Computing and around the College. I think Goldsmiths will be a fertile place to do my research, which intersects with music, computer science, machine learning, design, and human-computer interaction.

Working here, I get to be surrounded by colleagues, collaborators, and mentors who are doing high-impact research in related areas. Furthermore, I get to be a part of teaching students who come here to study things like Music Computing and Creative Computing. This is a really unique place!

If you could you sum up your research in one sentence, what would it be?
Through my research in computer science and human-computer interaction, I create technologies that enable people to express themselves more effectively and in new ways, that help them discover and exercise their creative potential, and that improve their sense of efficacy in their interactions with computers.

You’ve worked on a number 1 iTunes app (I Am T-Pain). What did you learn from this experience and do you have any tips for staff or students who are perhaps trying to work on an app?
There’s so much effort and attention that goes into making an app like this work. I think that implementing the ‘technical’ part of an app (e.g. getting the phone to play sound and tune your voice in real time, for example) can be pretty easy in comparison to getting the design right and communicating the app’s potential value to the user— not to mention getting the idea right in the first place! Of course, having a good team around you also helps. I was one small piece of a fantastic team of people at Smule, whose engineers, project managers, graphic designers, marketing people, etc. knew how to go about answering these questions (and also put in the long hours to pull it all off).

My advice for anyone wanting to build a successful is to develop their ability to think and act effectively across all of these questions: You need strong technical skills to make it all work, but you also need to start with a good idea, to develop and refine that idea over time, and to build a worthwhile experience for the user. Fortunately, in the Department of Computing, I think we’re teaching Goldsmiths students all of these skills!

It seems that you’re quite the musician (you’ve performed as the principal flutist at the Timmins Symphony Orchestra). What artist, band or performance should people look out for in 2014?
Actually, two of the concert series I’m most excited about this year are happening very close to Goldsmiths. First, Goldsmiths Computing’s Embodied Audio-Visual Interaction Group (EAVI) has an ongoing concert series at the Amersham Arms, in which EAVI faculty, students, and friends will be playing some great live electronic music. The next concert will be this Thursday, 9 January (doors open 8pm).

Second, Goldsmiths is hosting the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference 30 June–3 July 2014. As part of the conference, we’ll be having a bunch of concerts and club performances of experimental, interactive, electronic music, which will be open to the public.

Beyond Goldsmiths, I’m also looking forward to going to some concerts by St Paul’s Sinfonia, a chamber orchestra based in Greenwich and Lewisham. They’ve got some terrific programming coming up, with a nice mixture of classical and contemporary repertoire.

On a personal note…

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
I’ve eaten in so many good places so far, so this is a tough call! Maybe the London Particular?

What are your new year’s resolutions?
I’m resolving to 1) Learn more British idioms, slang, and food names so I’m not perpetually confused when people tell me things like how knackered they are after the knees-up and all they want is to eat a jacket potato and some spotted dick. 2) Spend some quality time out and about, getting to know London. 3) Learn to cook decent Indian food.
This interview with Rebecca originally appeared in Goldsmiths Staff News


London CryptoFestival: tools and analysis for a post-PRISM internet

Saturday, November 30th

Doors open 10.30 / Start 11am sharp

Location: New Academic Building

Free, all welcome

What happens to the internet after the Snowden revelations?

Do we just sit tight and let the most important cultural and economic force of the last two decades get turned into a giant surveillance honeytrap?  London CryptoFestival is the biggest public and academic manifestation in the UK after the spy-network has been exposed.  The unique day-long festival is aimed at showing paths beyond the logic of fear and coercion offered by the state on the one hand, and business models based on Continue reading London CryptoFestival: tools and analysis for a post-PRISM internet

Goldsmiths Students’ Union trip to 3D printing workshop

By Limahl Macfarlane, Advice Service Co-ordinator, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

The New Wave Festival is a ten day arts programme which challenges London’s most creative minds and artists to produce and present collaborative, audience-engaging work in public spaces in just fifty days.

It seemed fitting that GSU should take a group of enthusiastic Goldsmiths students from across disciplines, to a work shop at Swiss Cottage library on 3D printing, which was part of the festivals series. It was led by a company called who had a variety of art installations, a resident artist painting attendees and a 3D printer with equipment scanning participants. Once scanned students’ images were uploaded to a computer screen where they got to view their 3D image. In addition, they got to see a stripped back 3D printer in action, and were able to observe the mechanics of the machine as it created a sculpture, while questioning the technician.

The future is here. And all you need is a clever printer and you can make a sculpture of yourself or anything else for that matter.

Photographs courtesy of GSU

Arduino And Education – Sizing Up The Landscape – by Brock Craft

Arduino is one of the latest emerging technologies that are revolutionizing education. It’s essentially a tiny computer about the size of a deck of cards that can be programmed with ease. Arduino has been adopted widely in both Europe and the US for use in STEM (science, engineering, technology, and mathematics) education in high schools, as a way of teaching computational thinking skills. One question that often arises is where Arduino fits in with all of the other programming, hacking and making tools that are out there that help people to learn programming.

Read Brock’s full article at’s tech store…