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Professor Dave Cliff

  • My recent research has been focused on Ultra-Large-Scale Complex Software-Intensive Socio-Technical Systems in general, and Large Scale Complex IT Systems (LSCITS) in particular.
  • Before I got involved in LSCITS research, I spent roughly 17 years doing research in complex adaptive systems of one type or another. I worked on modelling neuronal processing of visual information in airborne insects (hoverflies, actually); on using artificial evolution to generate designs for sensory-motor morphology and neuronal controllers for autonomous mobile robots (so-called "evolutionary robotics"); on competitive co-evolutionary dynamics in predator-prey "arms races"; on autonomous adaptive algorithmic trading strategies for double-acution markets; on automated crowd-responsive dance-music disk-jockeys and real-time music-production systems; and on automated design of market mechanisms.
  • Futurology and horizon-scanning: I've done a fair amount of consulting work on this, primarily for the UK Government's Foresight unit in the Office of Science and Technology; also some work for the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) via the Beyond Current Horizons programme that DCSF commissioned from Futurelab. Some outputs from those activities are listed under "Publications", below.
  • Throughout my career I've done a fair amount of "public engagement" activities. In 1993 I was chosen to give the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture at the annual summer meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (now known as the British Science Association). After that, I was a "Schools' Science Lecturer" several times at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. I've been an invited speaker at the Cheltenham Science Festival three times, and I've done an awful lot of media interviews, both print and broadcast. Currently I am the only Computer Scientist employed by GSCE Science Live to talk to large audiences (several hundred at a time) of GCSE-level students about just how much fun science (and engineering) can be. I've done similar work for Maths Inspiration too. Trying to get schoolkids switched on to science and engineering is something that I really enjoy doing. In 2013 I co-wrote and presented a one-hour TV documentary "The Joy of Logic" which was made by Wingspan Productions for BBC, and was first broadcast in December 2013. The programme was nominated/shortlisted for several awards including a Grierson Award and continues to be shown occasionally by the BBC. 

Biography

Prior to joining the University of Bristol in 2007, I'd held faculty posts at the University of Sussex School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and at the University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science. I'd also spent roughly half my career working as a researcher in industry: initially for Hewlett-Packard Labs, where I ended up as a Department Scientist; and latterly for Deutsche Bank London, where I was a Director/Trader in their Foreign Exchange Complex Risk Group.

From October 2005 to April 2014 I was Director of the UK Research and Training Initiative in the Science and Engineering of Large-Scale Complex IT Systems (LSCITS). This was funded by GBP10M of UK public funds (from EPSRC), with significant support from partners in industry and the UK public sector. 

Most of my personal research work in the ten years before I got involved in LSCITS was centered on adaptive automated trading systems for various types of markets, and on automated design of market mechanisms. I started doing this in 1995, for market-based control of ultra-large-scale data-centres. In 2001 a team at IBM showed my "ZIP" trading software beating human traders, which got the attention of various companies in the global financial markets.

Expertise

My primary area of expertise is computer systems for trading in financial markets. In 1996 I designed an automated trading system that is adaptive (learns from experience); in 2001 a team of researchers at IBM showed that my algorithm beats human traders. My research has concentrated on automated trading systems since 1996. More generally, I can comment and advise on issues artificial intelligence, cognitive science, ultra-large-scale socio-technical systems, complex systems, and complexity science.

I've recently served as lead expert witness for the claimants in a major civil case heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court at London; and as lead expert witness for the prosecution in a major criminal case heard at Southwark Crown Court in London. 

  • large-scale complex IT systems
  • financial markets
  • automated trading
  • complex systems
  • evolutionary systems
  • cognitive systems
  • artificial intelligence

Keywords

  • evolutionary systems
  • artificial intelligence
  • cognitive systems
  • complex systems
  • automated trading
  • financial markets

Research keywords

  • evolutionary systems
  • artificial intelligence
  • cognitive systems
  • complex systems
  • automated trading
  • financial markets