Monday, July 20, 2015

June 2015: Graduation address: Professor Aaron Quigley

From: Graduation address: Professor Aaron Quigley

Aaron Quigley

Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen and to all of our new graduates, congratulations! Your time invested here has been rewarded with the degrees you now hold. On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication, you make working here the pleasure that it is. I hope you have fond memories of your time here in this ancient seat of learning.
I first learned about the University of St Andrews nearly 20 years ago just days after I sat where you are now, graduating with my undergraduate degree. I left my home in Ireland and headed off to work in Japan as a teacher. There, I had to introduce myself to a large group of young Japanese teenagers who were learning English. At a loss as to what to tell them about, I decided to introduce them to my university the great Trinity College, Dublin, which was over 400 years old. After I finished my introduction, my now friend Ann, a recent graduate from here, stood up to tell the students about her university which was nearly 600 years old, with bonfires and balls, May Dips, red gowns and Raisin Weekends. I was certainly put in my place I can tell you. Today, you become part of the history of this great university and in time, the tapestry of your life will become part of the fabric of this institution.

Vint Cerf, Saleem Bhatti, Garry Taylot, Louise Richardson and Aaron Quigley - Univeristy of St Andrews Graduation 2015

When I first came to St Andrews, I met our Proctor, who told me that we in St Andrews are ‘lamb dressed as mutton’. This is a turn of phrase which I am sure you will agree requires careful statement and consideration. For it is true: on the outside we have our ancient buildings and age-old traditions but inside we are young. We are young and hungry as we undertake leading research in the world, we are young in our thinking about how we blend our teaching and research and we are young because of you, our students and now graduates. We should each remember this, as we proudly display the trappings of age that inside, burning brightly, is a young community of academics and scholars.
If you pause for a moment you might wonder what past scholars and alumni thought life had in store for them; what were their hopes and dreams and indeed what legacy did they leave the world?

St Andrews Graduation 2015

In 1929, the then Duchess of York received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews and opened this very graduation hall you are sitting in today. British Pathé has a recording of some of this day, 86 years ago, which provides us with a window into the past. In that recording you can see the procession occur much as it did today, the maces, great robes of office and the new Younger Hall. If you found yourself a little flustered today, not knowing what to do with your robes, hood or programme then take comfort. In this recording you can see the young Duchess of York, later HM The Queen Mother, appearing a little nervous as she too struggles with her programme and hood before entering this very hall. However, what is most striking to me are the images of the students; aside from the ladies wearing caps and ties, they look very much as you do today. Happy, excited, jumping about for the camera, just like you all will be in a few moments out in the Quad. Keep that in mind as you are posing for images, that one day 86 years from now some academic might be digging through the archives of your selfies, trying to figure out what a selfie is, the word long since having vanished from the dictionary.

St Andrews Graduation 2015

Today, I would like to leave you with three pieces of advice which I would hope our honorary graduate Vint Cerf agrees with.
Firstly, never stop learning. Perhaps today as you reflect on your time here you may feel it has passed far too quickly. Perhaps you wish you could stay a little longer or perhaps never leave. In a way you never have to leave (I do not mean your rooms in the residences – we need those back for the golfers). If you continue to learn for the rest of your life, you will never really leave here. You can carry the St Andrews experience on for the rest of your days.
Secondly, life is not always fair but never let that stop you being optimistic about it. I think that any life, when examined under a microscope, has its fair share of sorrow, tragedy and failure. You can sit back and let this wash over you and erode your confidence in life or you can accept it, learn to appreciate what you have in life and build on it. No matter what life throws at you, stay in the game, do not sit on the sidelines. Stay optimistic about the days ahead.
Thirdly, you can, if you wish, simply float down the river of life, avoiding risky undertakings or bold choices and dodging unusual or exciting experiences. This does not quite exemplify the sense of ‘Ever to Excel’ that I think you now feel. Life is an adventure. To continue the adventure you have started, you need to remind yourself that you have only one life so live it well. Life is too short; so do not waste a moment of it. Embrace the opportunities, experiences and risks you take and try to live a life without regret.

CS staff and students St Andrews Graduation 2015

In my experience, your life is a canvas for your imagination. So far you have only sketched the outline of what might be. But life is not paint by numbers, so you will probably need to go outside your sketched lines from time to time. I suggest you try to experiment with all the colours in the palette (in moderation) and realise that we all make mistakes. Deciding which mistakes to keep separates the master from the apprentice, but this is half the fun in life.
Finally, I do wonder what you will remember from your time here in St Andrews. Will it be your assignments or an academic family? Practicals or the pier walk? Racing to a tutorial or red gowns and Raisin Monday? A May Dip at dawn, or a Dervish at dark? Your lectures and your lecturers or the Lizard Lounge? None, some, or all of these? Only time will tell, but today I recommend you try to soak up every last moment here, show your friends and family around and tell them about your memories of this place. And of course thank them; thank them for the love, care and support they have given you over the years. With learning, optimism and adventure and whatever may come, I hope that you enjoy your life and that it truly becomes a masterpiece.

St Andrews graduation 2015 (selfies and all ;)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Vision videos of interest to Computer Scientists

A couple of years ago I organised with others a CHI SIG on Visions and Visioning. To support this we built a Wiki to collect all the videos (which you can see here). I've been using the collection to support my HCI teaching and now I'm placed all the youtube videos into one playlist.

Many of the videos are only a few minutes but there is the occasional hour long video included.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Books for new and old Computer Scientists

Here I am collecting up some references to books from colleagues and others which are suggested reading for computer science students. Some suggestions are from others on twitter so these just have their @ handle. Those related to posts with more details are linked. Rather than repeat what each person or others say about the book I simply refer you to the source to keep this list brief. Note, some of the text in [AD 2010] and [IS 2010] overlaps as they drew from the same suggestions.

This list was last updated: Jul 2nd 2015



  • Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment by W. Richard Stevens and Stephen A. Rago [@saleem_bhatti AD 2010]
  • The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis M Ritchie [@turingfan AD 2010]
  • Structure and interpretation of computer programs by Abelson and Sussman [@simoninireland AD 2010]




Thursday, April 02, 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mar: LitLong Launch

The Palimpsest project involving the University of St Andrews’ SACHI team, collaborating with the University of Edinburgh’s English literature and text-mining group, has now completed its LitLong Edinburgh application and website, which are launched today (30th March 2015).

Friday, March 06, 2015

Mar: Stealers Wheel and HCI

Public-displays to the left of me, head-mounted displays to the right, Here I am, stuck with the mobile phone that is you! Helsinki

Seminar Details 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Feb: Winter Augmented Reality Meeting 2015

Professor Aaron Quigley I have been invited to the Winter Augmented Reality Meeting 2015 as a Keynote Speaker. WARM is an interdisciplinary meeting of experts in AR and related domains running its tenth installment. WARM2015 continues the success of previous WARM events (WARM'05, WARM'07, WARM'08, WARM'09, WARM'10, WARM'11, WARM'12, WARM'13, WARM'14).

The title for my talk will be "Constructing Reality: Digital-Physical Scaffolding" and the

Abstract: Is the relationship between human and computer akin to a dance, where each moves effortlessly responding to the movements of the other? Or, are computers just agents who do our bidding, either undertaking direct actions on our behalf or proactively determining services, information and supports we may need on a moment to moment basis? Or, should computers continue to be best thought of as simple devices which we should turn over work to as Vannevar Bush said or thinking assistants to perform the routinizable work as Licklider suggests while we focus on creative thought and decision? Neither the beautiful dance, the agent nor the simple device seems to capture our current experience of human computer interaction. Technology underpins the human experience and digital technologies in the form of devices, computers and communications are weaving themselves into the fabric of existence. The nature of this weaving is far from uniform, distributed or even fair. For some, the impact of digital technologies are far removed from their day to day life and serve only to support some of the infrastructure of where they live, if at all. For others, digital technologies form part of the substrate of their existence and living without their mobile phone, social media apps and streaming music service seems unimaginable. Between these extremes are broad swathes of the global population who rely on digital technologies for the infrastructure in their areas and services delivered to their homes. Of course, our use and indeed reliance of technology is not new. Indeed, it is one of the defining characteristics of humans and society, our fashioning of tools, instruments and technologies to help shape our world and lives. In this talk I will discuss how we have already used technology to fashion and construct our present reality and explore ways we might create new scaffolds for the future such as enhancing our senses for a myriad of reasons from correction to replacement and enhancement.