I received my Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1991 (class medalist). For the following two years I worked in the area of CAD/CAM design as a research engineer for Thorn EMI (London). In 1993 I was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to undertake a PhD at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) to study the problem of optical music recognition. I joined the Department of Computer Science at Waikato University in 1996, completing my PhD part-time later that year. In 2001 I was promoted to senior lecturer, to associate professor in 2009, and have held the post of professor since 2016.

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Research Interests

During my time at Waikato I have broadened my interest in digital media, while retaining a particular emphasis on music. In particular, my research focuses on the boundary between algorithmic content analysis—which is inevitably error-prone—and human computer interaction in on-line information systems. It's all very well having an algorithm that can detect transitions between someone speaking and music playing in an audio file with 98.7% accuracy, for instance, but given that error rate how can an information system make use of this in a practical way that helps a user? How can information systems be designed to allow user corrections of such errors, and how does this user feedback relate back to the underlying algorithm used?

I lead the Digital Library Research Group at Waikato, taking over the reigns in 2007 from Prof Ian Witten who founded the group in 1995. Our digital library project has a strong open source focus, encouraging tangible outcomes demonstrating the developed research techniques where possible. See my projects page for specific examples of this.

Probably the best known outcome of our digital library research is Greenstone. With users hailing from over 70 countries on the mailing-list, the user interface to Greenstone has been translated into over 50 languages through volunteer efforts. Through UNESCO's Information for All programme the complete set of documentation (manuals, tutorial exercises, etc.) has been translated into French, Spanish and Russian.

Teaching Cross-over

My research interests cross over into my teaching duties in various ways. The most prominent of these is in the COMPX241 Software Engineering Development course with its signature Smoke and Mirrors Group Projects.