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Department of Computer Science

Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series

In 2008 the Department of Computer Science initiated an annual series of lectures intended to describe ongoing research in Computer Science to a wider public. The lectures are named the "Gibbons Lectures" in memory of Associate Professor Peter Gibbons.










The Gibbons Lecture Series is in partnership with IT Professionals NZ and Auckland ICT Graduate School

The Gibbons Lecture Series is proudly sponsored by ITPNZ
Associate Professor Peter Gibbons (1949-2008)




The Gibbons Lecture Series is proudly sponsored by ICT Graduate School

The Gibbons Lectures

The Gibbons Lectures is an annual series of talks run by the Department of Computer Science in association with IT Professionals New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Computer Society) and Auckland ICT Graduate School. The goal of each lecture is to describe detailed developments in a particular research area to a general but technical audience - from Computer Science students at all levels, to IT practitioners in other departments and outside the University.  

The lecture series is managed by a sub-committee of the Department of Computer Science, chaired by the Head of Department or nominee. As well as organising the speakers and the event itself, the committee ensures that the lectures in the series are archived and made available on this website.


The Gibbons Lectures fund

The prestige of these lectures and their permanence depends on establishing a permanent source of funding. To that end, the Department of Computer Science has established a fund that will be built up to provide support. We welcome contributions to the fund. If you would like to contribute, you can make a gift online at and choose Peter Gibbons Lectures Fund.


Next lectures

2017 Gibbons Lectures:

Steps towards the singularity
Artificial intelligence and its impact

Machines that mimic human cognitive functions, such as learning and problem solving, are said to exhibit artificial intelligence or AI. 

We are accustomed to computers reading text, consulting virtual personal assistants and GPS route finders, using voice control, and robotic assembly lines. Now we face the development of driverless cars, facial recognition, and robot physicians. 

This plethora of very smart technology leads some to believe that we are rapidly approaching The Singularity – the hypothesis that artificial super-intelligence will trigger runaway technological growth and result in unfathomable changes to human civilisation. 

Still, there is a continuous stream of research into advancing AI and corresponding concern about its impact. In this lecture series we will explore what is happening locally.

Our lead speaker for 2017, Professor Nikola Kasabov from Auckland University of Technology, will discuss the research progress of AI from its deepest roots to the current frontier: applying AI to the big data of medicine. 

Professor Hans Guesgen from Massey University will explore the use of AI to improve the lives of elderly citizens – a topic that is of personal interest to many of us. 

Associate Professor Marcus Frean, from Victoria University of Wellington, will take a more critical look at the current ‘hot topic’ of deep learning. 

Closing the 2017 series, with a discussion of the questionable impact of AI, will be Associate Professor Ian Watson from the University of Auckland.



Drinks and nibbles will be provided prior to each lecture from 6pm at Level 1 of the Owen G Glenn Building. Lectures will commence at 6.30pm and take place in OGGB3 on Level 0 of the Owen G Glenn Building. 


Professor Nikola Kasabov

4 May – AI: from Aristotle to deep learning machines 

Professor Nikola Kasabov
Director of the Knowledge Engineering and Discovery Research Institute
Auckland University of Technology 

Professor Hans Guesgen

11 May – Home smart home

Professor Hans Guesgen
Chair in Computer Science School of Engineering and Advanced Technology
Massey University 

Associate Professor Marcus Frean

18 May – Deep learning - what's missing?

Associate Professor Marcus Frean
School of Engineering and Computer Science
Victoria University of Wellington

Associate Professor Ian Watson

25 May – The ethics of AI

Associate Professor Ian Watson
Department of Computer Science
The University of Auckland 


Archived lectures

The recordings of lectures can be found at:

2016: Medical applications of information technology

2015: Man meets machine: human-computer interaction

2014: Keeping secrets: privacy and security in the information age

2013: Picture this! Computer graphics in New Zealand

2012: The Turing legacy

2011: Applying computer power

2010: Facing the data mountain

2009: Computing: from theory to practice


Associate Professor Peter Gibbons

Peter’s academic career began at Massey University where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics with First-class Honours in 1970. This was followed in 1972 by a Master of Science in Computer Science with Distinction – the first degree in Computer Science awarded in New Zealand. He completed his PhD in Toronto then returned to New Zealand to lecture at Massey, moving to the University of Auckland in 1980 to the newly established Department of Computer Science. He was with the department through to his retirement in 2004, including a three-year period as Head of Department from 1997.

After retirement he continued his association under an honorary appointment. Peter’s research area was on the boundary between Mathematics and Computer Science in the field of combinatorics. Peter’s particular interests included block designs (especially Steiner systems), Latin squares, graph domination questions, and the development and implementation of computer algorithms for combinatorial search and enumeration. Peter taught his research specialisation both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He also taught introductory programming to Stage I students and at a more advanced level. He became involved with new areas, such as multimedia and bioInformatics, where his knowledge and expertise could be applied.