Gibbons banner 2018

The Myra Cohen 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

2018 Gibbons Lectures


Robots everywhere
Robotics in industry and at home

A robot is a machine capable of sensing and carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially when controlled by computer programs. It seems that every day we hear news items concerning robots, the tasks that they are now able to perform and how they are expected to interact with humans.

Particularly newsworthy are autonomous robots that operate without immediate human control and androids that are made to resemble humans, but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with the most practical shape for the task itself.

The branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, is called robotics. Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that involves mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and other disciplines from the social sciences. In New Zealand, robotics is an active area of research.

The first speaker this year, Bruce MacDonald from our Faculty of Engineering, will overview the state of robotics research, especially local research directions. Mike Shatford, Managing Director of Design Energy, will follow with a summary of how robotics and supporting technologies are solving problems for industry, world-wide and in New Zealand, particularly in small and medium enterprises. From our Department of Computer Science, Patrice Delmas will discuss the problems of providing robots with vision. To end the lecture series, Elizabeth Broadbent from our Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences will present some of the social issues of interacting with robots and her research into this area.



Join us for refreshments before each lecture from 6pm at 260.088, Level 0 Foyer, Owen G Glenn Building

Lectures start at 6.30pm.


Professor Bruce MacDonald

3 May – Robotics research in New Zealand

Bruce MacDonald
Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
The University of Auckland

Watch the lecture live


Mike Shatford Managing Director Design Energy Limited

10 May – Robotics in industry

Mike Shatford
Managing Director
Design Energy Limited

Watch the lecture live

Associate Professor Patrice Delmas

17 May – Will robotic vision ever fully replace human vision?

Patrice Delmas
Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science
Faculty of Science
The University of Auckland

Watch the lecture live

Associate Professor Elizabeth Broadbent

24 May – Can we be friends with robots?

Elizabeth Broadbent
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
The University of Auckland

Watch the lecture live


Archived lectures

The recordings of lectures can be found at:

2017: Steps towards the singularity Artificial intelligence and its impact

2016: Medical applications of information technology

  • May 5: Computational physiology – Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter.
  • May 12: Finding your place in the genome: assembly, annotation, association – Professor Thomas Lumley
  • May 19: A case study of IT in medical imaging: the evolution of computed tomograph – Professor Anthony Butler
  • May 26: Using IT to improve health delivery for management of chronic illness – Professor Jim Warren

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.