Dave Cliff, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bristol, is giving a lecture tour for 14-to-18-year-old students over the autumn and winter of 2007-08. This lecture tour is funded by the British Computer Society (BCS), to mark the fiftieth anniversary of their founding in 1957. In the same year, a small number of UK universities started computer science departments. To mark this joint 50th anniversary, the BCS has arranged for the tour to visit those fifty-year-old computer science departments, at the universities of Leeds, Oxford, Newcastle, Southampton, Glasgow, and London. As news of the tour has spread, a number of other universities have also expressed an interest in hosting Dave's lecture. At each site, students from local schools and colleges have been invited to attend.
`I was happy to say yes to giving this series of lectures...', says Dave, `...because I think Computer Science research is at a very exciting point, with huge possibilities opening up in coming years and decades: there are loads of things that are within our grasp now, that only 10 or 15 years ago would have sounded like outlandish science fiction. We're coming up for a period of truly astonishing progress. I'm concerned that young students don't get any of this via their regular ICT or Computer Science classes. There is an awful lot more to computer science than learning to fill out a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are just deathly dull in comparison to all this'.
The lecture, advertised as fast-paced and light hearted, will first be presented in Leeds on October 10th. The audience is intended to be students aged 14-18, from those studying GCSE Computer Science or ICT, to A-level students considering taking computer science degrees.
Dave Cliff joined the University of Bristol in July 2007, having previously held faculty positions at the universities of Southampton and Sussex in the UK, and at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab in the USA. He also spent several years working in industry as a research scientist for Hewlett-Packard Labs Europe, and then as a director for Deustche Bank's foreign exchange trading in the City of London. He currently directs the UK's national research and training initiative in Large-Scale Complex IT Systems, a major project running 2007-2012.