Robert Leese

Dr Robert Leese

Director, Industrial Mathematics KTN

No organisation yet…


A case of acoustic forensics

As part of the Bayes and the Law Network, there will be a guest lecture by Dr Geoffrey Stewart Morrison at Queen Mary, University of London on Friday 20 April at 11am in the Dept of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.  Dr Morrison is Director of the Forensic Voice Comparison Laboratory, School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications, University of New South Wales. 


Title: What did Bain really say? A forensic analysis of the disputed utterance based on data, acoustic analysis, statistical models, calculation of likelihood ratios, and testing of validity.


The David Bain legal case is (in)famous in New Zealand. In 1995 Bain was convicted of murdering his family. He maintained his innocence and a retrial was eventually held in 2009. He was found not guilty. Prior to the retrial, a police officer thought he heard the words “I shot the prick” in the telephone call that Bain made to the emergency services shortly after the murders. The defence contended that these were not the words spoken. An alternative hypothesis which emerged was that Bain had said “I can’t breathe”. 


For further details see


Science of Risk

Read here about the winners in the 2011 Lloyd's Science of Risk competition.  The five categories were natural hazards, climate change, technological/biological risks, behavioural risks and insurance operations/markets.

Student colloquium on High-Performance Computing

The London Mathematical Society and Centre for Numerical Algorithms and Intelligent Software are hosting a colloquium in London on 11th October, on High-Performance Scientific Computing at the Exascale.  Leading researchers in the field will present the state of the art and current challenges in a form accessible to research students with an interest in the field.  Please see the poster and event details for further information. Students may attend for free and for others there is a nominal fee of £5, payable on the day.

Accelerating Innovation in Rail

The Technology Strategy Board has launched a new competition on Accelerating Innovation in Rail, which contains several areas of potential interest to the Industrial Mathematics community, including: 

  • network management and control;
  • systems approaches to installation and cost reduction;
  • operational safety and efficiency.

If you are interested, please consider registering for the consortium building event that is being held by the Transport KTN in Coventry on 20 October.

Latest on TICs


For the latest news on Technology Innovation Centre, click here to read an update article from the TIC programme and delivery team.  The first TIC, in high-value manufacturing, will start operations in October, with the next two centres scheduled to follow in the first half of 2012.

Last chance: ICT in manufacturing and construction

The closing date is approaching for taking part in the TSB's competition targeted at the use of ICT in the manufacturing and construction sectors.  If you are interested, you need to register an interest by 27 July and submit an expression of interest by 3 August.  Please see the TSB group here for further information.

Science and Technology Committee Report on TICs

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published its report on Technology Innovation Centres (TICs) yesterday.  It's left me feeling that we are at risk of a major missed opportunity.  There seems to be a lack of focus that has crept into the TIC debtate, since Hermann Hauser published his original report on the topic nearly a year ago.

Hauser's vision was unequivocally to build the UK's position in new technology markets.  The aim of TICs, he proposed, was "to exploit the most promising new technologies, where there is genuine UK potential to gain competitive advantage. This will help deliver the new industries, with transformational economic impact, of the future."  Hauser also suggested four conditions for investment in a TIC:

  • the potential global markets are predicted to be worth bilions of pounds per annum;
  • the UK has truly world-leading research and potential business capability and absorptive capacity to make use of increased investment;
  • the UK has the ability to capture a significant share of high value activity; and
  • TICs can enable the UK to attract and anchor the knowledge intensive activities of globally mobile companies.


These criteria have almost faded from view in the recent consultation by the House of Commons Committee.  Its report suggest that "The primary criterion must be the quality of the science and the economic benefit to the UK". This sounds more like the aspiration of a university.  And how did Hauser's ambition for "transformational economic impact" become diluted into "economic benefit"?  Perhaps no wonder that so few businesses submitted responses to the consultation.  Just a bare handful out of 85 in total.

Still, one proposal that hasn't changed and deserves a cheer is that the new TICs should be named after a mathematician, although Hauser's preference for Maxwell has been replaced by one for Turing.  I hope that this is more because of his laying the foundations for innovation, through his pioneering work in computing, rather than, as the House of Commons Committee suggests, because the nation owes him "a debt of obligation for the way in which he was treated".

Let's also hope that in their implementation, TICs maintain the high ambition of the original vision.

Climate Change Question Time - update

There is one alteration to announce to the line-up for the Climate Change Question Time on Wednesday 24 November at the Willis Building in London. One of the positions on the panel will now be filled by Abyd Karmali, Managing Director and Global Head of Carbon Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He will participate in place of James Cameron. Abyd has worked on the climate change challenge since 1990, and is currently focused on the role of the financial sector in allocating capital efficiently and innovatively in a global economy that will become increasingly constrained by a cap on carbon emissions.

The full line-up of panellists is now:

  • Sir John Beddington (Government Chief Scientific Adviser)
  • Ralph Cicerone (President, National Academy of Sciences, USA)
  • Abyd Karmali (Global Head of Carbon Markets, BAML)
  • Tim Lenton (Earth System Modelling, University of East Anglia)
  • Tim Palmer (University of Oxford & ECMWF)
  • Vicky Pope (Head of Climate Change Advice, Met Office)
  • Alan Thorpe (Chief Executive, NERC)
  • Lord Adair Turner (Chairman, Financial Services Authority)

The discussions will be chaired by Jonathan Leake, Science and Environment Editor of the Sunday Times, and Oliver Morton, Energy and Environment Editor of the Economist.

Further details here.

Your chance to shape FP8

The European Union's 8th Framework Programme (FP8) will run from 2014 to 2020 and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has opened a Call for Evidence that will Government will use to influence its content.  The current Framework Programme (FP7), running from 2007-2013, has a budget of over 50 billion Euro.  In seeking views on FP8, the Government wishes to hear how the programme could be less bureaucratic, more attractive to participants, and more effective at creating new products and service and better policy-making.   Full details of the call for evidence are available on the BIS website, including a form for submitting responses.  The consultation document provides in itself a useful overview of Framework Programmes.  Submissions of evidence must be made by 4 January 2011.  The Government will then compile and publish a UK position paper.

Climate Change Question Time

On Wednesday 24 November, leading figures in climate science and policy will be exploring these crucial issues, in a unique event being organised by the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, in collaboration with the Industrial Mathematics KTN and the Centre for Science and Policy.  The panellists are:

  • Sir John Beddington (Government Chief Scientific Adviser)
  • James Cameron (Vice-Chairman, Climate Change Capital)
  • Ralp Cicerone (President, National Academy of Sciences, USA)
  • Tim Lenton (Earth System Modelling, University of East Anglia)
  • Tim Palmer (University of Oxford & ECMWF)
  • Vicky Pope (Head of Climate Change Advice, Met Office)
  • Alan Thorpe (Chief Executive, NERC)
  • Lord Adair Turner (Chairman, Financial Services Authority)

The discussions will be chaired by Jonathan Leake, Science and Environment Editor of the Sunday Times, and Oliver Morton, Energy and Environment Editor of the Economist.  Further details here and register online here

Trying to quantify uncertainty

Prof David Spiegelhalter (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge) will be giving a public lecture at the London School of Economic on Wednesday 17 November, entitled "Trying to Quantify Uncertainty".  The event is free and no ticket is required.


Abstract: There has been a traditional division between 'risk', which can be quantified using probability distributions, and 'uncertainty', which is the surrounding mess of doubt, disagreement and ignorance. In well-understood situations we may be happy to quote reasonable odds for future events, and I shall look at ways in which these risks can be communicated visually. When the problem is more complex, analysts may use a mixture of judgement and historical data to construct a mathematical model that can assess future risks, but deeper uncertainties may be glossed over. I will use examples from swine flu to climate change to illustrate different approaches to dealing with uncertainty, from ignoring it to trying to fully quantify it, and conclude that we should all try to be aware and open about the magnitude and potential consequences of our ignorance.


Time: 18.30-20.00, Wednesday 17 November 2010

Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, Houghton St, WC2A 2AE

Enquiries: or 020-7955-6043

Science is vital

Please take a look at the Science is Vital campaign that is working to avoid destructive levels of cuts to UK science.  Preserving capacity in the science base is number one priority for ensuring the ability of the UK to drive future economic growth through innovation.

Two new funding opportunities for small businesses

 Two new opportunities for potential suppliers of defence technologies have been announced under the Small Business Research Initiative.  One is concerned with Less Than Lethal Escalation of Force and the other with a variety of new capabilities under the heading of Fast Track to the Front Line.  There a briefing seminars over the next two week and interested parties should follow the links above for further details.

Chris carries the day in Economist debate

 Prof Chris Budd today completed a comfortable victory in the Economist's online debate successfully arguing for the motion "This house believes promoting maths and sciences education s the best way to stimulate future innovation."  After nearly two weeks of lively exchange of views, 74% of voters supported the motion.

Online debate: Maths and science - the best way to future innovation?

 The Economist is currently running a live online debate on the motion: "This house believes promoting maths and sciences education is the best way to stimulate future innovation".  Proposing the motion is Prof Chris Budd of the University of Bath, also a member of the KTN's Scientific Committee.  Opposing him is Chris Trimble of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.  Both sides have made their initial statements, with further statements to come before the debate closes next week.  Contributions from the "floor" are coming in on both sides, so be sure to take a look and air your views.

Video positioning video pitch

 You may remember from the 2008 Study Group a fascinating problem on video positioning that was brought by Richard Shenton, the Director of Reliable Data Systems.   Richard has now developed further this intriguing and effective technology and entered it into the Technology Strategy Board's Launch Pad competition that will run as part of Innovate10 on 12 October.  Each entry has an accompanying video pitch - you can see the RDS pitch here and offer Richard your online support!

New publication: Progress in Industrial Mathematics

Springer has just published the mammoth volume Progress in Industrial Mathematics at ECMI 2008, which is a full record of all talks that were given at the ECMI2008 conference in London.  The KTN was involved on the organising committee for this highly successful event.  The new volume represents a cross-section of industrial mathematics applications from all parts of Europe.  It's a hefty read at over 1000 pages, so be warned.  Those who were registered at the conference have probably already received a brick in their mail, while others can get a copy through channels such as Amazon.

Knowledge discovery

Next week the Association of Computing Machinery holds its conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining.  The keynote address will be streamed live over the web, at 2pm BST on Mon, Tue and Wed.  The following caught my eye.  On Tuesday, David Jensen will present on the wide-ranging notion of Computational Social Science, while on Wednesday Konrad Feldman will take an industry perspective on the Quantification of Advertising.  Should be interesting.  See  

Future energy systems - webcasts available

There are now webcasts available online from the recent joint event on Future Energy Systems hosted by the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences.  Among the presenters from industry and government were Steve Smith (Managing Director of Markets, Ofgem), Chris Murray (CEO XOserve and Chairman, Energy Generation & Supply KTN), Nafees Meah (Head of Science, Department of Energy and Climate Change), Andrew Richards (National Grid Control Centre), and Mark Tritschler (KEMA Consulting).  Also available are the full set of tutorials and academic seminars that made up the remainder of Energy Systems Week.  If you have not previously viewed the Newton Institute webcasts, then I urge you to have a look - the quality is very high, and there are video format available to suit all platforms.

Lloyd's prizes in the Science of Risk

Lloyd's of London, in conjunction with the Lighthill Risk Network, is running a competition for young researchers to demonstrate new ideas in the general area of the Science of Risk.  There are prizes available in several categories: Natural Hazards, Climate Change, Technological Risk, Biological Risk, and Behavioural Risk.  For further details, see

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