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Cambridge TechTalks


Computing is so last century

John GrantNine Tiles

Back in about 1980 we started building microprocessors into electronic equipment, because they could do, quite easily, things that were difficult or expensive to do with hard-wired logic. Now we have FPGAs that can do, quite easily, things (particularly in the areas such as processing live media) that need a lot of power to do with processors. And yet we haven't moved on from a mindset based on general-purpose CPUs: FPGA vendors build hard-wired CPUs into their products, and high-level synthesis of FPGA logic requires the source to be written in languages such as C. This talk explores how we might do better.

Most recent hardware advancement towards Non-Volatile Memory (NVM), photonic Interconnects, and heterogeneous multicore are dramatically changing the hardware architecture of modern computers. However, impacts on the systems software are even more profound. Last time a radical change in computer architecture was introduced with the DRAM, the operating systems and systems software also underwent substantial changes, such as virtual memory. These changes also introduce new types of failures and fault management.

In HP Labs, we are pursuing a novel computer, called The Machine. The Machine addresses the aforementioned advancement in hardware technology, but it also introduces operating systems support and new applications. In this talk, I will describe how we support NVM at different levels of software stack, such as managing NVM, programming NVM, and file systems. I will then present the impact on the next generation applications.


Bad Traffic Big Data?

Dr Ian Lewis, University of Cambridge

The University is now receiving, and storing, a continuous stream of the real-time locations of all buses in the region. So far this has accumulated into an archive of 120 million data points (since June 2015). What historical analysis would you do to generate insight, and what efficient real-time computation would provide the most valued information to the Cambridge traveller? Come and hear our journey into the foothills of this territory and toss in your obvious approach that I've been too dumb to consider.


Computer Forensics

Dr Chris Hargreaves, Cranfield University

Digital Forensics involves the recovery of evidence from digital devices. This may be as part of a criminal or an internal investigation. If you manage IT systems, at some point you may become involved in supporting such an investigation. This talk will provide an overview the subject, including examples of evidence that can be recovered, the importance of the preservation stage during the process, and some specific examples of where mis-interpretation of the data can occur and incorrect conclusions reached.


Sensory maps

Dr Daniele QuerciaBell Labs

Researchers have used large quantities of online data to study social dynamics in new ways. That tremendous effort resulted in the emergence of a new research area called “computational social science”. Consider the specific case of online networked individuals (e.g., users of Twitter, Instagram, Flickr). Can their social dynamics be used to build better tools for future cities? To answer that question, a few years ago, our research started to focus on understanding how people psychologically experience the city. We used computer science tools to replicate 1970s social science experiments at scale, at web scale. The result of that research has been the creation of new maps, maps where one does not only find the shortest path but also the most enjoyable path. What if we had a mapping tool that would return the most enjoyable routes based not only on aesthetics but also based on smell and sound? This talk will address that question by showing how a creative use of social media can tackle hitherto unanswered research questions (e.g., how to capture smellscapes and soundscapes of entire cities [2])


Building software that makes sense: how to write for user interfaces

Beth AitmanRedgate Software

Want to make software that your users can understand? If you really look at most user interfaces, you’ll discover that most of a UI is text. If you want to get your user interface right, you need to start thinking about the words you use. 

And you don’t need to be a writing expert to make a difference. In this talk, I'll show you: 
- strategies for choosing words that your users will understand 
- how and when to explain what your software’s doing 
- how to write error messages that are actually useful 
... along with plenty of real-world examples of doing it right and wrong.


Reaching reliable agreement in an unreliable world

Heidi Howard, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

In this talk, we explore how to construct resilient distributed systems on top of unreliable components. Starting, almost two decades ago, with Leslie Lamport’s work on organising parliament for a Greek island. We will take a journey to today’s datacenter and the systems powering companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Along the way, we will face interesting impossibility results, machines acting maliciously and the complexity to today’s networks. We will discover how to reach agreement between many parties and from this, how we construct the fault-tolerance systems that we depend upon everyday.

Download presentation slides >


Human factors in Internet Fraud

Dr David Modic, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

I will focus on psychology of Internet Fraud and specific mechanisms of scam compliance. I will outline some psychological levers that make fraud more effective and propose what can be done to alleviate the situation.


Introduction to 3D Printing and 3D Printing applications

Sav Jeyendran, Canon

Covering the fundamentals of the technologies and the variety of industries and organisations using 3D printing (or additive layer manufacturing) in their processes. As well as examining some of the issues that can arise when creating models to be 3D printed.


Using Mathematics and Machine Learning for Cyber Security

Andrew Tsonchev, Darktrace

  • Learn about Darktrace and The Enterprise Immune System
  • Learn why ‘immune system’ technologies represent a fundamental innovation for cyber defence
  • Discover how to apply machine learning and mathematics to detect advanced, internal threats
  • Understand how to gain 100% network visibility to investigate emerging anomalies in real time

Next generation post-Acorn RISCOS Machine

Richard Brown 

The ARMX6 Talk will cover briefly a timeline from our heritage, to the more detailed recent history which has led to the last 11 months of production of the current ARMX6 Risc computer; the computer created out of the ashes of the RISCPC.

We will touch on some historical points and a more in depth look at how collaboration achieved this current project. There will be new RISC machines on display, for use throughout the day.

UIS Website Creation and Hosting Services: Current Offerings and Future Direction

Nick Mattin & Jon Warbrick, University of Cambridge Information Services

[CLOSED SESSION – University of Cambridge staff only]

This event will give you an overview of the services UIS offer for managing your content on the web, which include the Managed Web Service, Falcon Content Management Service, the Drupal Service, Sharepoint and the Managed Wiki Service. These all offer very different environments, suitable for a wide range of uses, and we'll give you a clear idea of what each service can do for you. We'll also cover some of the component services that can add functionality and dynamic information to web pages – linking into eSales, embedding maps and feeds of news and information from various sources, and utilising the University search. We'll follow this up with an opportunity for you to influence the future direction of UIS' website creation and hosting services, and for further networking and discussion.

Foyer Norwich Auditorium Courtyard marquee
9:30 - 10:00 Registration and coffee reception
10:00 - 10:40 Session 1a Session 1b
10:40 - 11:20 Session 2a Session 2b
11:20 - 11:50 Coffee break
11:50 - 12:30 Session 3a Session 3b
12:30 - 13:10 Session 4a Session 4b
13:10 - 14:10 Lunch
14:10 - 15:00 Session 5a Session 5b
15:00 - 15:40 Session 6a Session 6b
15:40 - 16:10 Coffee break
16:10 - 16:50 Session 8a Session 8b
16:50 - 17:30 Session 9a Session 9b
17:30 - 19:00 Beer party