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Durham University

Computer Science

Departmental Lectures

Each year the Department of Computer Science hosts a variety of prestigious annual lectures to commemorate significant individuals to our field of study. Here you can find a glimpse of what we offer.

Updates for upcoming events are posted periodically.



Prestigious Durham Lovelace Lecture Series

Celebrating the Achievements of Women in Honour of International Women's Day

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 - 27 November 1852)

Ada was an English mathematician, a writer, and is often regarded as the first computer programmer. Chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.

Biography of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was the only child of the poet George Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke.

Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, in which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as 'poetical science' and herself as an 'Analyst & Metaphysician'.

As a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to an ongoing working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, also known as 'the father of computers', and in particular, Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program.

She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching. Her mind-set of 'poetical science' led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

2016 Durham Lovelace Lecture Series

Speaker: Carron Shankland

Topic: Being and Becoming a Professor - Work Life (Im)balance

For the 2016 Durham Lovelace Lecture we proudly presented Professor Carron Shankland, from the University of Stirling, Department of Computing Science and Mathematics.

Carron was one of 12 women in Computing Science and Mathematics to have received a Suffrage Science Award. We aim to recognise both the scientific achievement and the ability to inspire others that Carron has done through her work.

Carron is passionate about the promotion of careers in science for women, having initiated and led the Athena SWAN programme of actions at Stirling for four years. She chairs the BCS Women in Computing Research Group and is building a good practice network of computing departments engaged in gender equality work (CygnetS).

Carron’s presentation shared her thoughts on being a successful academic, illustrating this with points on her own development.

Sir Gareth Roberts Annual Lecture Series

Sir Gareth Gwyn Roberts FRS, FREng (16 May 1940 – 6 February 2007)

Sir Gareth was a Welsh physicist specialising in Semiconductors and Molecular Electronics. He was influential in British science policy through his chairmanship of several academic bodies, with two reports on the future supply of scientists and how university research should be assessed.

Knighted in 1997 for his services to higher education, he continued his professorship in Applied Physics at Durham University from 1976 until 1985.

The Sir Gareth Roberts Annual Lectures are supported jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Physics in Sir Gareth's honour.

2017 Sir Gareth Roberts Annual Lecture

Speaker: Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng

Topic: Building Brains

The fifth annual Sir Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture was held on Wednesday 1 March 2016 and presented by Professor Steve Furber of the University of Manchester. As a joint event between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Physics, the Annual Lecture is held to honour the memory and celebrate the legacy of Sir Gareth.

Professor Steve Furber Biography

After completing a BA in mathematics and a PhD in aerodynamics at the University of Cambridge, UK, Steve spent the 1980s at Acorn Computers as a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor.

Over 75 billion variants of the ARM processor have since been manufactured, powering much of the world's mobile and embedded computing. He moved to the ICL Chair at Manchester in 1990, where he leads research into asynchronous and low-power systems and, more recently, neural systems engineering. The SpiNNaker project is now delivering a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for brain modelling applications.