research

Things that I think about.

My research revolves around measuring communications networks and their users. My PhD looked at measuring networked game servers and game players, but I moved on from this to measuring mobile and wireless networks and their users. I attempt to use the results of this network measurement to build more usable networked systems. By this I mean systems which support the functionality that users desire. For instance we can use network measurement to improve security and privacy so that people can use pervasive sensor networks. Or we can measure network behaviour and use this to inform the design of future networks. Most recently I have been interested in technology law, both as a measurement tool (e.g. using data subject access requests to collect data), and as a lens for improving systems and vice versa.

I am also particularly interested in the dissemination of results and the sharing of data for use by other researchers. This both promotes good science (reproducible results) and has interesting research issues, for instance, how to anonymise or sanitise data to remove private information while still making the data useful for research. Interested? Then see my CCR rant and please visit our wireless data archive CRAWDAD:

Papers

Here is my list of publications.

People

My research interests span various parts of computer science (as well as other disciplines!). Within our School I am a member of the Systems, AI and HCI research groups. Within these groups, I am fortunate to be working with a talented group of researchers:

  • Judith Faßbender (PhD student 2022-)
  • Anna Mitchell (PhD student 2022-)
  • Adamu Adamu (PhD student 2021-)
  • Chris Irvine (PhD student 2019-)
  • Janis Wong (PhD student 2018-22, now at Turing Institute) - thesis
  • Chris Norval (postdoc 2016-2017, now at Cambridge)
  • Yuchen Zhao (PhD student 2013-17, now a lecturer at York) - thesis
  • Luke Hutton (PhD student 2011-15, now at The Times) - thesis
  • Iain Parris (PhD student 2008-14, now at Sky) - thesis
  • Fehmi Ben Abdesslem (postdoc 2009-11, now at SICS)
  • Greg Bigwood (PhD student 2007-11, now at Morgan Stanley) - thesis

Prospective students

I am happy to entertain informal enquiries from potential research students. But please:

  • Computer Science is (at least in my opinion) a broad church. So think about which areas of interest you the most. If you would like me to supervise your PhD, then it would be useful if you were interested in similar things to myself. Take a look at these pages and my recent publications to determine whether we would be a good fit. While I have conducted lots of research into computer networks in the past, this is not my current focus: you may wish to contact Professor Bhatti if this is your area. Or look more broadly at the School’s Research pages.
  • Think about particular problems that interest you. It is much better to contact me with a draft research proposal, or at least by saying “I want to examine this problem…” rather than “I want to do a PhD - what should it be about?” I will likely ignore the latter as I receive more queries than I can process. In any case you will need to have a tentative research proposal to complete the application form. Don’t worry; we won’t hold you to this topic. The nature of research means that your ideas and areas of interest are likely to change as you progress through the PhD. I started out looking at network economics for my PhD and ended up submitting my dissertation on multiplayer networked games.
  • Please understand how the UK PhD differs from those in other countries. I have linked to my previous students’ dissertations above which can give you an idea of what the final product looks like, but it is a good idea to understand the timescales when thinking about your application and your research plans.
  • It is of great use (to you and to me) if you can show me what you are capable of doing. If you have github or bitbucket repositories of interest, send me pointers! If you have written apps, send me pointers! If you have written papers, send me pointers! Note that you do not have to have written papers before you apply for a PhD, although some evidence of research experience or interest is good.
  • Get in touch once you have considered the above. Note that I do not take kindly to badly-written, misinformed or form letters - these will be ignored. Include a CV and some sort of description of your proposed research.
  • Once you have spoken to me and I have agreed that I might be interested in working with you, then complete an application form, obtainable through the School, and list me as a potential supervisor.
  • Check out my list of resources for research students.
  • Note that it is increasingly difficult to find funding for PhD students in the UK. If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a funded place from the School, then I will be unable to fund you. Please be aware of this before applying.
  • If your goal in doing a PhD is to obtain an academic post, then please be aware that there is no guarantee that a PhD will help you on this path. I urge prospective students to read the Royal Society report on The Scientific Century, in particular Figure 1.6 (reproduced here). That said, an academic career is not the only outcome of a PhD, and indeed most of my PhD students have gone on to successful and fulfilling careers outside of academia. Again, I note this so that you are aware before applying.
Figure 1.6 from The Scientific Century displaying destinations following a PhD.
  • I receive various requests from people saying that they have read my web pages, but have not. To demonstrate that you have done so, please include the password “The purple water runs uphill” somewhere in your message. Thanks!