Tickets for this years lecture will be available (only through schools) from our secretary Kirsty McLaren.
Since 1994 the Department of Computer Science has provided a Christmas lecture for schools. The content and level of each lecture has been designed to appeal to 3rd through to 6th year pupils and should be of special interest to those already studying the subject at school.
Christmas Lecture 2012
Raspberry Pi and Arduino: “Pioneers of the Open Hardware & Software Frontier”
Presented by Duncan Smeed
The affordability, accessibility and adaptability of Raspberry Pi and Arduino devices may lead to major innovations in the teaching of computing, engineering and science subjects in schools and universities. For instance, the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino are ideal systems to explore the topic of physical computing by means of projects that construct the hardware and software components of, say, a robot or an interactive computer game with kinetic controller. Here we will explore, and demonstrate, recent advances made in highly affordable, open software and open hardware computer systems.
I will be illustrating many examples of the types of projects inspired by the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Some of the examples will be drawn from the physical computing and embedded systems classes taught at the University in which students design and build their own ‘gadgets’. The ultimate aim of this year’s Christmas lecture is to encourage pupils and teachers alike to explore the new and exciting world made possible by open software and open hardware computer systems.
Christmas Lecture 2011
Cybercrime and Digital Forensics
Presented by George Weir and Alan Poulter,
Computer-based crime is on the rise.
The police and security agencies face a major challenge in addressing the variety and frequency of criminal exploits. In this lecture, we explain the nature of cybercrime, describe some of the incidents and risks associated with cybercrime and demonstrate techniques from digital forensics that can help to detect illicit computer behaviour.
Christmas Lecture 2009
Changing Hardware, Changing Software
Presented by Conor McBride,
May you live in interesting times!" runs the old Chinese curse: there has never been a more interesting time in Computer and Information Sciences. Since their invention not so very long ago, computers have become smaller in physical size, larger in data capacity, faster, cheaper, and more effectively interconnected across the world.
As computer hardware has improved in leaps and bounds, software technology has matured in its capacity to sustain the large-scale engineering of projects, but the fundamentally sequential ways we describe mechanical calculations have changed very little. Why should they have? As computers became faster, programs performed better without really trying. However, times change: physical heat and power limitations dictate that computers can no longer do "the same thing only faster", but they can do more things at the same time. This capacity for concurrent execution is improving in leaps and bounds, but to exploit it (and stay ahead of the competition) software professionals need new tools and techniques. Paradoxically, the key is not so much to do special new things, but to know more about what you don't do. In interesting times, knowledge is power.
Christmas Lecture 2008
How to Engineer Software
Presented by Dr. Murray Wood
Although most people use software, few are aware of the processes that may be followed in order to specify, design, implement, test and evaluate software applications. In this talk, Dr. Wood, a specialist in Software Engineering, will describe the ways in which we can engineer software.
Along the way, he will describe some of the successes and remaining challenges in this area and will illustrate his presentation with 'Gizmoball', a pinball editor and simulator. Examples of projects will be shown to demonstrate the range and variety of software development work undertaken by students of Computer Science at the University of Strathclyde.
2008 Christmas Lecture
Christmas Lecture 2006
Born digital: information technology and its effects on young people
Presented by Alan Poulter
Today's youth have never known life without digital technology. This lecture will use the findings of current research to paint a picture of the ups and downs in the life of a typical 'born digital' young person. This generation (Generation Y, teenagers on down to six year olds) is the first to have been steeped in the following technologies :
- The Internet, especially World Wide Web, instant messaging, social networking, blogs
- Broadband/wireless/on the move Internet access
- Laptop/palmtop/smartphone computers
- 2/3G mobile phones, texting
- Camera phones/MP3 players - Ipods and the like
- Playstation, Xbox, PSPs, networked gaming
- HDTV, Tivo and other DVR devices, DVDs
Christmas Lecture 2005
Presented by Dr John Levine
For the last 50 years, the goal of Artificial Intelligence has been to create intelligent machines: robots which can behave like humans, computer programs that can think. Most research in the area has tried to construct such devices by design.
But designing intelligent behaviour is very hard; recognising it is much easier. Furthermore, given two behaviours we can generally recognise the more intelligent one. If a population of diverse behaviours can be created, we can use artificial evolution to find behaviours which are more intelligent. Over time, intelligent behaviours will emerge by competition with each other, rather than needing to be designed.
This simple and intuitive idea can be applied to a wide range of tasks which need intelligence, such as games playing, robotic control, planning, problem solving - indeed, anything which involves perceptions, decisions and action. In the talk I will present some diverse examples of evolution used to produce intelligent behaviours.
I will also speak on the limitations of the current process: it evolves agents which are specialised to the task in hand and are usually only reactive rather than reflective. Can we go beyond this and evolve true intelligence?
Christmas Lecture 2004
The Search for Data: Fact and Fiction on the Dark Side of A.I.
Presented by Professor Maria Fox
In the last decade films, books and computer games have dwelt on the futuristic theme of intelligent robots invading our lives. Many of the robots that have been imagined represent a danger to the future of human kind whilst others play a supportive and protective role. In all cases fictional robots are very powerful with an intelligence that often far surpasses that of their human counterparts.
In this talk we examine the fact that lies behind the fiction to discover the direction in which research in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is heading and the progress that has been made. We begin with the NASA Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, currently exploring Mars for signs of life. Closer to home, we consider robots that interact with humans in various domestic and social settings. We look at the different components of an intelligent robotic system: its locomotion, its ability to recognise and interpret complex environments, its human-robot interactive capabilities and its powers of decision-making, planning and problem-solving. The talk concludes with some observations and speculations about the role of intelligent robots in the short and longer term futures of human society.
Christmas Lecture 2003
Viruses, Worms and Trojans
Presented by Dr George R S Weir
Computer viruses are the scourge of the millennium. Increasingly, organisations are hit by viruses that infect and impair the operation of their computer systems. These threats often originate on the Internet so the home user is no more safe than large companies and universities. This lecture aims to shed light on the nature of these and related threats to our computer infrastructure and identifies several survival strategies for safe computing.
Christmas Lecture 2002
Myths, Maths and Magic: a whistle-stop tour of the history and future of computing.
Presented by Professor Richard Connor
This talk will glide, at a high level, over some of the most interesting aspects of computer science. It will look at: the early history: spys, counter-spys and submarines what is hard and what isn't: some simple things we can't do thought and machines: the Emporer's new mind? technology and magic: where is the boundary?
The talk will be interesting and challenging. It will reveal problems that seem to be impossible that can be solved, and problems that seem to be easy that can't be solved. It should be of interest to anyone considering a career in computing and, more importantly, to anyone who likes puzzles or maths but isn't considering one!