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Clean sweep for Oxford at BCS annual awards


Two computer science lecturers from the University of Oxford have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the field by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Dr Boris Motik has been named as the recipient of the BCS Roger Needham Award, sponsored by Microsoft Research, while Professor Samson Abramsky FRS is being awarded the BCS Lovelace Medal.

Dr Motik, whose work has had an impact both inside and outside academia, has made major contributions to the design and standardisation of the OWL2 ontology language, which is widely used in industrial research and applications. His research is around the development of techniques for intelligent management of large amounts of data. This involves building advanced data management systems that can exploit background knowledge about an application domain in order to improve common tasks such as information production and search.

Such systems are currently used in numerous diverse and challenging scenarios such as annotation of health care records in the NHS, intelligent information management and retrieval in tourism, and provision of context-enabled services in consumer devices such as smartphones. 

Dr Ken Woodberry from Microsoft Research Cambridge said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Roger Needham award again. Dr Motik is an exceptionally active and successful researcher whose distinctive work has both academic and industrial impact.  He is a very deserving winner of the Roger Needham Award.”

Dr Motik says: “I’m honored to receive the BCS Needham Award. In addition to recognition of my own research contributions, I see this gesture as a confirmation of the importance of my research field.”

Professor Abramsky is pre-eminent in setting the modern agenda in the foundations of computer science, an area where he has made immense contributions since the 1980s. His contributions in each of the past three decades had a major impact on the field, notably: Domain Theory in Logical Form, Game Semantics and Categorical Quantum Mechanics. He has shown the ability to change research fields and to establish new interdisciplinary approaches.  His work over the past decade has shown that methods and concepts developed in theoretical computer science can be applied very directly in quantum information, and the foundations of quantum mechanics itself.

David Clarke, MBE, Group Chief Executive Officer BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, says: ‘’I am delighted that we are awarding Professor Abramsky the Lovelace medal in recognition of his wide range of achievements, linking abstract theories to practical application, and most recently to scientific reality. The impact he has made to the IT industry and his contribution to academic research makes him a very worthy receiver of this award.’’

Professor Abramsky says of being presented with the award: “I am delighted to accept the Lovelace Medal from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. It is particularly pleasing that this award recognizes work of a highly foundational character, and shows the commitment of BCS to support the study of computing not only for its manifold applications, but as a fundamental scientific discipline in its own right.”

The Roger Needham Award is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge and established in memory of Microsoft’s first director of research outside the US. It is awarded for a distinguished research contribution in computer science by a UK based researcher within ten years of their PhD. 

The BCS Lovelace Medal was established in 1998 in honor of Lady Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace and daughter of Lord Byron. The Medal is presented annually to individuals who, in the opinion of BCS, have made a significant contribution to the advancement of Information Systems.

Both Dr Motik and Professor Abramsky are both based at the University of Oxford's Department of Computer Science. Dr Motik will present the 2013 BCS Needham lecture in November, and Professor Abramsky will deliver his Lovelace lecture in 2014. Full details of both lectures will be announced on the BCS website at a later date.   

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