ian watson

about me

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

I graduated from Essex University and returned to take an M.Sc. in Intelligent Knowledge Based Systems in the Department of Computer Science. After obtaining my M.Sc. I went to live in New York for a year and then returned to the UK to study for a Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science at Liverpool University. In collaboration with the Knowledge Engineering Group at Unilever Research I developed a knowledge analysis methodology that supports Sowa's conceptual graphs.

After my PhD I started work at the University of Salford and was a Lecturer, Senior Lecture and briefly promoted to Reader in Computer Science. Whilst there I developed an expert system called EMMY to predict the cost of housing maintenance for Housing Associations. This system has subsequently gone on to be sold commercially by Engineering Technology Ltd. I was also involved in the development of the Client Centred Approach. This is a development methodology for expert systems that supports rapid prototyping within the Waterfall model.

From my first hand experience of the difficulty of developing knowledge-based expert systems I became interested in Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) and am now one of the world's most active researchers in this discipline running AI-CBR the Internet site for CBR. This site is now mothballed and has been replaced by the community curated CBR Wiki.

I  become interested in AI on the web and  worked with an Australian firm to implement a CBR system on the web. A paper describing this project won the "Distinguished Paper Award" at IJCAI-99. I  also worked for the UK government's Cabinet Office on the development of the INFOSHOP a web-based information support system for local government. On moving to New Zealand I collaborated with Prof. Emilia Mendes on a study of software estimation techniques and in particular the application of CBR to effort estimation.  I am currently researching memory-based approaches to Game AI in real time strategy games and Texas Hold'em poker.  More information on this research can be found at the Game AI website.
I spend a considerable amount of time publicising computer science to the general public through the writing of popular science books and other activities. I am the CS department's blogger and get between 300 to 600 page views per day (this is a mirror of my personal blog). I founded and moderate a LinkedIn group for Nao Robot users that has over 700 members and founded and moderate a LinkedIn group for people with an interest in Alan Turing that has 400 plus members and growing. By writing my book, The Universal Machine, I have developed a keen interest in the history of computing. I have been invited by Event Communications, a London-based exhibition design group, to be an historical advisor to the redevelopment of the Communications Gallery of the Russian Polytechnic Science Museum in Moscow. This is part of a $250 million (USD) refurbishment of one of Moscow's cultural landmarks.

last updated 01/03/14