Thank you everyone! Now to get to work. <a href='http://www.twitter.com/mtrc'>I'm on Twitter</a> if you ever want to ask anything, or you can <a href='http://www.gamesbyangelina.org'>visit ANGELINA's site</a> to see progress updates on the project and the app!
Bournemouth School for my secondary school. Then I moved to London to attend Imperial College. I’m still there doing my PhD!
I’ve got a Masters of Engineering in Computing. I did A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Religious Philosophy (and a bit of English Literature!).
I worked in a Co-Op food store for a bit! Most of my jobs were at Imperial – I spent two summers while I was an undergraduate doing little bits of research to see what it was like. I loved it, of course!
I’m a PhD student at Imperial College in London!
I work in an area of computer science called ‘computational creativity‘. It’s all about getting computers to do things that normally we only think humans can do – things like composing music, painting beautiful artwork, or designing videogames. It’s a very exciting area to work in, because there are lots of unanswered questions. Some people don’t think computers can be creative – ever! What do you think? Would you ever call a computer as creative as someone like Mozart or Picasso?
My work focuses on videogame design – I’m trying to make an artificial intelligence that can design games! Making a game is a very hard thing to do – you have to do technical things like design levels, but you also need to do artistic things like compose music and draw pictures. I’m trying to build a computer program that can do as many of those jobs as possible, and produce videogames that it designed all on its own. I’m not quite there yet (there’s a long way to go, in fact!) but we’re making steady progress I think.
If you like you can play some of the games my software made on our website (check that it’s okay with your teacher first though!)
My Typical Day:
My day is split between checking up on ANGELINA’s latest games, writing new code for ANGELINA to use in experiments, and reading up about human videogame designers (to try and understand what they do).
I do most of my work on my laptop, so I start my days sitting in a coffee shop with a big cup of coffee. The first thing I do is download games ANGELINA made the night before and see what they’re like. ANGELINA makes games about the news at the moment, so it’s exciting to try and guess what the games are about. Then I restart ANGELINA to make another game, and get on with whatever is the current order of the day!
There are lots of different jobs involved in my research. Some days I’m programming new bits of ANGELINA – for instance, right now I’m trying to make ANGELINA design new, bigger types of level. Writing code to make computers do things is a lot of fun, possibly the best part of the job! Last week I wrote some code that lets ANGELINA tweet to people, so that it can ask them questions while it designs games.
Other days I’m not programming, I’m writing instead. The most important thing about being a scientist is sharing your work with other people. So if I make a big advance with ANGELINA, or I’ve got some experimental results to share, I’ll write a scientific paper and submit it to a conference. Scientific papers are almost exactly the same as the science reports I wrote when I was in Year 8 science lessons! You describe your experiment, your hypothesis, you give your results, and you say what you think about them.
If the people at the conference think my paper is interesting and good quality, they might invite me to give a talk about my work! The picture above is from a paper I wrote last year that I went to present to people in South Korea.
If I’m not programming or writing, I’m probably reading about videogames (or other artificial intelligence programs!). Lots of people talk about videogames now – journalists, gamers, researchers, designers and so on. Reading about people’s ideas helps me think of new ways to make ANGELINA better! You can never read too much.
I also read other people’s scientific papers. It’s a bit like reading someone else’s homework and trying to understand the experiment from it. Other papers give you good ideas to work on, and they also let you know what people have already done. It’s very important that scientists always work on something new.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I’m hoping to build an Android app that will host ANGELINA’s games and explain the science behind it, and I’d also like to donate some to helping Code Club get off the ground in UK schools!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Beardy! Likes Coffee.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really… the odd thing would go wrong. My history teacher threw a book at me once!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Right now I am listening to the latest Regina Spektor album. I also really like Ben Folds and The Divine Comedy.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Oooh. I think I’d wish I could play a musical instrument (I never learnt, and now am useless at all musical things!); I’d wish I could speak Farsi perfectly; and I’d wish I knew how to drive. The London Underground makes me wish for that almost every day!
Tell us a joke.
What’s blue, and smells like red paint? Blue paint! Pretty awful, eh?