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Inaugural Lecture - Matt Visser

26 Feb 2007 - 10:04 in Event
Professor Pat Walsh, Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington invites you to attend an Inaugural Professorial Lecture:

Emergent spacetimes - one possible route to quantum gravity?

To be given by Prof Matt Visser, Professor of Mathematics

Is 'quantum gravity' even the right question to be asking? It is increasingly plausible that Einstein's general relativity (like Euler's hydrodynamics), is 'merely' a low-energy approximation to some radically different 'fundamental' theory. Professor Visser will present a non-technical description of what might be going on, and what the prospects are for future progress.

20 March 2007 at 6pm

Hunter Council Chamber,
Level 2 Hunter Building,
Gate 1 or 2, Kelburn Parade,

Vaughan Jones to Give Lecture at VUW

28 Feb 2007 - 09:27 in Event
Professor Vaughan Jones from the University of California at Berkeley is giving a lecture on "Why Flatland is a Great Place to do Algebra" at Victoria University on Friday 16th March. The lecture will be held in Maclaurin 102 (near Gate 5, Kelburn Pde) at 7pm, with refreshments from 6:30pm.

Vaughan Jones is Co-director of the NZIMA. He received the Fields Medal (the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize) in 1990, and many other honours for his work. Among these, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1990. In 1993 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science, and in 2002 he was made a Distinguished Companion of the Order of New Zealand.

Prof Jones says about his talk; "Thinking about the dimensions of things, we recognise that the algebra we learned at school is pretty much a one dimensional affair. We will consider a new form of algebra based on two-dimensional configurations."

"We will have a quick look at places in mathematics and physics, such as quantum computing, where this 'planar algebra' appears to be necessary. The talk will be illustrated with copious anecdotes and pictures."

LOCO Student Wins Japanese Scholarship

28 Feb 2007 - 22:35 in Achievement
MSCS student Luke McCrohon has been awarded a Monbukagakusho Scholarship by the the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to study for a Masters in Computational Linguistics at the University of Tokyo.

Luke is currently completing a BSc Honours in Logic and Computation at Victoria University.

The Scholarship includes tuition fees, air fares, and a ¥175,000 (approximately NZ$2200) monthly stipend for up to two years. Scholarship recipients are also given Japanese language training if needed.

For more information about the Scholarship, visit the website:

New Zealand Computer Science Research Students Conference 2007

26 Apr 2007 - 16:52 in Event
During the Easter mid-trimester break seven computer science post-graduate students (Christian Seifert, Ben Palmer, Yifan Zhang, David Friggens, Jennifer Ferreira, and Craig Anslow) presented their research at the 5th New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference (NZCSRSC). The conference was held on the marae at University of Waikato in Hamilton, and was attended by post-graduate computer science students from all over New Zealand.

The central goal of the conference was to foster a lasting community between computer science research students in New Zealand. The conference involved sessions on a range of relevant computer science topics, interesting tutorials, invited talks, and company presentations. Peter Andreae and Stuart Marshall presented tutorials.

The highlights of the conference included invited talks by Craig Nevill-Manning (PhD Waikato) from Google, Ian Foster (Father of Grid Computing) from the Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago, Tyrone McAuley (VUW CS graduate) from Sidhe Interactive, and Nigel Scott from Park Road Post.

For more information about the conference, visit the website:

Prestigious NZIMA Scholarship Award

01 May 2007 - 12:37 in Achievement
The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, and his supervisor Mark McGuinness, are delighted to announce that Jonathan Crook has been awarded a prestigious NZ Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Award, to support him in his work towards a Phd in mathematics. Only a small number of these awards are made throughout New Zealand in each year.

Jonathan's research topic is modelling the growth of young fast sea ice in Antarctica. He is keen to combine his strengths in mathematics and physics, and Antarctic fast sea ice presents some interesting challenges. Here, fast does not mean speedy, but land-fast or attached to the land.

Antarctic sea ice is important for a number of reasons - it affects global warming, since it insulates the air from the ocean; when it forms, heavy salty water is rejected into the sea, driving large-scale currents in all of the world's oceans; biota are known to winter-over in the safe but chilly confines of sea ice, before they are released into the Southern Ocean and initiate a summer feeding frenzy in the food chain.

A very special kind of ice crystal called platelet ice presents a puzzle in Antarctica: why does it wait a bit, then show up in fast ice that is greater than one metre thick? Present models tend to ignore the mechanisms that can lead to platelet ice. Present analyses tend to be purely numerical. The challenge for Jonathan is to investigate the role of platelets in fast ice, using analytical, asymptotic, and numerical techniques.

Mathematical Modelling Success

01 Jul 2007 - 15:20 in Achievement
Another team from Victoria University of Wellington has successfully competed this year in the Mathematical Contest in Modelling (MCM. The MCM is a unique annual international contest, in which University undergraduates try to solve real-world problems posted on the internet, in an intensive four-day team brainstorming session.

Deborah Crook, Tim Cox, and Jonathan Stephenson, of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, are delighted with their "Honourable Mention" grade for their report on the best procedures for quickly boarding and deboarding airplanes of various sizes. This grade puts them in the top 40% of competing teams. They were mentored by A/Prof Mark McGuinness and Prof Matt Visser.

A total of 949 teams submitted reports, from USA, China, UK, Korea, South Africa, Ireland, Jamaica, Finland, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand. The honourable students from Victoria University worked day and night, considering how people behave (or misbehave) when boarding or leaving an airplane. Computer simulations helped them to decide whether passengers should board the window seats first, or the back of the plane first. In four intensive days and nights, they combined their skills in mathematics, physics, computing, communicating and writing, culminating in the submission of their highly-ranked report.

VUW Hosts ACM International Programming Contest Heat

21 Sep 2007 - 10:02 in Event
This past Saturday (15th September), for the first time, Victoria University hosted the lower North Island heat of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (South Pacific Region). Two Victoria teams did very well for first time entrants by coming 20th (Hugh_Oli_Mudge) and 42nd (Obscure Reference) out of 66 teams across Australia and New Zealand. Congratulations to Hugh Davenport, Oliver Jennings, Michael Mudge of Hugh_Oli_Mudge, and Carlton Downey, Samuel Hegarty and Gustav van der Merwe from Obscure Reference. The organisers would like to thank Neil Ramsay for acting as Head Judge, to Tatsat Mishra and David Stirling for general support, and MSCS, the ACM and IBM for sponsorship.

For more information about the Contest, see the ICPC website here:

PhD student awarded General Relativity Prize

01 Oct 2007 - 11:59 in Achievement
Celine Cattoen experimenting with gravity

MSCS PhD student Celine Cattoen has been awarded a Hartle Prize from the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. These prizes were awarded to the best student presentations at the GR18 conference held in Sydney, Australia in July. Celine gave a 15 minute talk titled "New versions of the Hubble law" which is based on an article that will become part of her PhD project. Celine's PhD research is supervised by Prof Matt Visser.

MSCS Marsden Grant Success

05 Oct 2007 - 16:02 in Achievement
Dr Noam Greenberg and Prof Rod Downey were both awarded Marsden grants. Professor Downey received $500,000 over three years for his project "Computability, Complexity and Randomness". with an offer a fourth year of funding should the project be progressing satisfactorally. Dr Greenberg received a fast start grant of $170,000 over two years for his project "Computability theory and its interactions with set theory".

For more information on the marsden fund, or about other Marsden Fund awardees, visit:

More detailed results of this year's funding round can be accessed directly here.

Graduate Applied Statistics Majors Available

10 Oct 2007 - 13:26 in Administrative
Applied Statistics will be offered as a subject for Honours in 2008 and it will also be available as a subject for Masters degrees in 2008.

For more information, please refer to the Graduate Prospectus for Statistics, Applied Statistics and Operations Research, or contact A/Prof Megan Clark.

Royal Society fellowships for Victoria researchers

12 Nov 2007 - 10:10 in Achievement
Three of four available James Cook Research Fellowships were awarded to Victoria University researchers - including MSCS Prof Rod Downey.

The Royal Society of New ZealandVice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says the Fellowships are the most prestigious awarded to cutting-edge scientific research. "This goes to show the value placed on Victoria University research by leading organisations such as the Royal Society, and is a success we look to build on under our new Investment Plan." Professor Walsh says.

Professors Paul Callaghan, Rod Downey and Kenneth McNatty are the latest recipients of the Fellowships that allow researchers to concentrate on their chosen study for two years.

Professor Downey's project will investigate the recent growth area in fundamental mathematics - the very nature of computation. Rod will be working in computational complexity theory and in algorithmic randomness. This further enhances VUW's reputation as a world class centre of logic and computation.

Professor Callaghan's project will focus on New Zealand leadership in magnetic resonance, a physical phenomenon that has numerous applications in medicine and chemistry; and Professor McNatty will look at the environmental and nutritional influences on reproductive health - a study that aims to pinpoint the role of environmental contaminants and lifestyle factors on New Zealanders' declining fertility rate.

The Fellows were selected by the James Cook Research Fellowship Selection Committee, chaired by Professor Marston Conder, President of the Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand. For more information, see the Royal Society Website:

Graduate Applied Statistics Courses Approved

21 Nov 2007 - 14:05 in Administrative
The Applied Statistics courses and graduate programmes offered by MSCS have now been approved for 2008. Students wishing to enrol in these may need to enrol using the paper forms, as it will take some time for the courses to show up on the Online Course Catalogue.

For more information, please refer to the Graduate Prospectus for Statistics, Applied Statistics and Operations Research, or contact A/Prof Megan Clark.

KAREN Awards to MSCS Staff

06 Dec 2007 - 10:44 in Achievement
At a recent ceremony in Auckland, awards were made to a number of people throughout New Zealand who had made an outstanding contribution to the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network. Three Victoria staff members, including two MSCS staff members were honoured as follows:

Sam Searle - KAREN Enabler Award - for her contribution to the goals of the advanced network and her work in helping organise the highly successful 'Building KAREN Communities for Colloboration' conference.

Phil Mansford (ITS) - KAREN Enabler Award - for his contribution to the design of the service and network management architect of the network.

John Hine - KAREN Fellow Award - for his service to the KAREN community from its conception, advocacy and promotion of KAREN (even before it started!) and encouraging capability building and participation in the network.

Sam and John are keen to promote awareness and use of KAREN by Victoria staff and students. For more infromation, feel free to contact Sam (click on her name above for contact details). You can view presentations from the conference at:

Article adapted from Vicnews.

Professor Downey Becomes ACM Fellow

06 Dec 2007 - 10:44 in Achievement

MSCS Professor has been made a 2007 Fellow of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) for contributions to computability and complexity theory. The 2007 ACM Fellows, from the world's leading universities, industries, and research labs, created innovations in a range of computing disciplines that affect theory and practice, education and entertainment, industry and commerce. Outside of North America, the only universities with 2007 ACM Fellows are Victoria University, Oxford University, the University of Edinburgh, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the University of Madeira. Rod is only the second such Fellow in New Zealand.

Welcome to the New MSCS Website

20 Mar 2008 - 16:43 in Administrative
Welcome to the new MSCS web site! We've spent the last four months working hard to update and reorganise all our information, we hope you find the design more pleasing to the eye, and helps you to find information easier.

We've set up redirects from old pages where possible, so hopefully any bookmarks you have will continue to work.

Course pages are in the exact same place as they were.

As always, if you have any bugs that you've spotted, or information that you can't find, please let us know.

Thanks! -- MSCS Programming Team

MSCS Students Win Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships

27 Mar 2008 - 13:51 in Achievement
MSCS Students Adam Day and Phillip Wong are among only four Victoria University students who have been awarded Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships in the latest round of funding. The four students collectively received more than $350,000 for their PhD research.

Phillip's PhD study will be to look into reducing the computational cost of the program-creator tool Genetic Programming. Adam will undertake a PhD in understanding what it means to be computationally random.

Forty-two students nationwide received Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships, collectively worth $4.4 million, for study at either a New Zealand or an overseas university.

More information on the scholarships can be found on the TEC website at:

Article adapted from VicNews

New Honeynet Security Product Available

27 Mar 2008 - 14:08 in Research
MSCS and the Honeynet Project ( are excited to announce the release of Capture-HPC v2.1. Capture-HPC is an innovative open source security product that is able to find and investigate the increasing problem of client-side computer attacks. This new software release increases the features and speeds performance allowing anyone to investigate a larger range and quantity of client-side computer attacks. Capture-HPC is freely available from our web site at: It is written and distributed under the GNU General Public License, v2.

For more information contact Christian Seifert, Peter Komisarczuk or Ian Welch. The full details regarding the release are available here:

MSCS Student Wins Enterprise Scholarship

09 Apr 2008 - 15:57 in Achievement

Nicole Walters has been awarded an Enterprise Scholarship under the Tertiary Education Commission's Bright Future Scheme. The fully funded scholarship will enable Nicole to work on the upflow of steam and liquid and noncondensible gasses in geothermal wellbores, in her research towards a PhD in Mathematics, under the supervision of Mark McGuinness.

This success reflects a developing partnership with the Geothermal Division of Mighty River Power Limited in Hamilton, and the scholarship is half-funded directly by Mighty River Power. The research Nicole plans to do will help the effective management of geothermal power stations in New Zealand. Congratulations, Nicole!

For more information about the Bright Future Enterprise Scholarships, see the TEC's Website.

MSCS Graduate at Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre

10 Apr 2008 - 10:34 in Alumni
Young Hong has recently accepted a permanent research position at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre ( at the University of Cambridge in the UK, as a kinetic modeller. The Wolfson Centre is dedicated to imaging function in the injured human brain using Positron Emission Tomography and Magnetic Resonance. Young finished his PhD in Mathematics in 2005 at this School, under the supervision of A/Prof Mark McGuinness, on "Cardiac Control Models".

Here is a photo of Young with the River Cam in the background - clearly not letting the grass grow under his feet...


2008 Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship

18 Apr 2008 - 10:59 in Administrative
Press Release from Google

As part of Google's ongoing commitment to furthering Anita Borg's vision, we are pleased to announce the 2008 Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. In 2006, the Australia Anita Borg Scholarship was established to honour the legacy of Anita Borg and her efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in computer science and technology. Three years later, we continue to strive to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders.

Anita Borg Scholarships will be awarded based on the strength of candidates' academic background, community involvement and demonstrated leadership. A group of female undergraduate and graduate student finalists will be chosen from the applicant pool. The scholarship recipients will each receive a scholarship for the 2009 academic year and an expenses-paid trip to the 2009 Grace Hopper Conference.

In addition, all finalists and scholarship recipients will be invited to an expenses-paid networking retreat to be held at Google's Sydney Engineering centre in September. It will include workshops with a series of speakers, breakout sessions, social activities, and will provide an opportunity for all finalists to meet and share their experiences.

Applying to the Scholarship To apply, you should be a female student studying Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Software Engineering or a related technical undergraduate or postgraduate degree at an Australian or New Zealand university in 2009. For complete details, please visit Applications close June 13th 2008.


IT Careers Expo

29 Apr 2008 - 10:18 in Event
On Friday 9 May from 12pm-2pm, SMSCS, SIM and Vic Careers are hosting an IT Careers expo, on the 2nd floor of Cotton Building. The expo is a good opportunity for Engineering, Computer Science and BIT Students to liaise with potential employers, find out what jobs are available in IT (and maybe even sign up for some!), and make a few contacts.

The focus of the careers expo is graduate recruitment opportunities, but it should also be of interest to first and second year students who want to find out what is available in the job market. Employers are interested in offering permanent and summer work, as well as Work Experience programmes.


The list of employers who are currently scheduled to have a stand at the expo include Innaworks, Westpac Banking Corporation (NZ), Catalyst IT Ltd, Intergen, Orion Health,, Foodstuffs Wellington Coop Society, Contact Energy, GCSB, Provoke Solutions Ltd, Fronde Systems Group Ltd, SecuritEase International Ltd, NZ Computer Society/Women in Technology, Datacom, IBM, Summer of Code, EDS (NZ) Ltd, ANZ National, Sidhe Interactive, Trade Me, and Statistics NZ.

For more information, including detailed info on each employer, click here.

MSCS Academic Wins ASWEC Award

07 May 2008 - 11:28 in Achievement
MSCS is proud to announce that Prof James Noble has been awarded "most influential paper for ten years" from the Australian Software Engineering Conference for his previous work on object-orientated programming at Microsoft Research in Sydney. For more of James' work, visit his personal page.


MSCS PhD Student wins BuildIT Scholarship

15 Jul 2008 - 15:02 in Achievement
MSCS Computer Science PhD student Faisal Nabi has been awarded $63,000 in a scholarship from the BuildIT fund, which he will receive over the next three years. The BuildIT fund was set up to grow the number of PhD students studying computer science in New Zealand.

Faisal is an active researcher in the field of e-Commerce Systems Security. He is currently focusing on his PhD research into "Designing Frameworks for Secure Business Application Logic in Distributed e-Commerce Systems", under the supervision of Ian Welch and Peter Komisarczuk.


MSCS Graduates at IEEE NZ Presentation Event

03 Sep 2008 - 10:07 in Achievement
As part of the IEEE New Zealand Central Section's technical activities the following computer science thesis students presented at the post-graduate presentation event: Craig Anslow, Urvesh Bhowan, Natsuki Hasegawa, Sergio Hernandez, Rashina Hoda, Alan Kinzett, Alvin Kok-Lim Yau, Radu Muschevici, Kourosh Neshatian, and Ben Palmer. The event was held on Thursday 28 August from 1-6pm at Pipitea Campus. The aim of the event was for post-graduate students who are pursuing higher degree studies in the areas of engineering and technology to present their research work and to share their knowledge with fellow-students and peers. Each presentation was eight minutes followed by two minutes for discussion and questions. Students who presented at the event received a participation certificate and received sponsorship for IEEE membership fees. Ben Palmer also received an award for an outstanding presentation and research work (pictured below). Pizza and drinks were provided to keep the students entertained.


New Schools to replace SMSCS

15 Sep 2008 - 12:34 in Administrative
From 2009, Victoria University will establish two new Schools: the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, and the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

These two Schools will replace the current School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

Professor David Bibby, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science, Architecture & Design and Engineering, says the spilt will facilitate the continuing development of Engineering and Computer Science at the University. The Bachelor of Engineering was first offered in 2006.

The new Schools will continue to foster the strong research culture of their disciplines and continue to contribute to research throughout the University.

This change does not affect the range qualifications offered by each School or impact on current students’ intended qualifications in any way.

Programming Contest Success for MSCS Teams

17 Sep 2008 - 11:36 in Achievement
On Saturday, 13th of September, SMSCS hosted the Wellington Site of the 2008 ACM South Pacific Regional Programming Contest ( as part of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest ( Two teams, both from SMSCS, took part in the competition at Wellington Site. There were 89 teams competing in South Pacific at sites spread throughout Australia and New Zealand. There were 9 problems with the winning team from Australia (Hobart) solving 8 and the winning team from New Zealand (Christchurch) solving 7 ( The winning team from Australia and the winning team from New Zealand will advance to World Finals in 2009.

The first SMSCS team was Hugh_Mudge_Will: Hugh Davenport, Michael Mudge, William O'Neil.

Hugh_Mudge_Will solved 7 problems and came 8th in South Pacific (or 5th in NZ).

The second SMSCS team was CGC: Carlton Downey, Gustav Van Der Merwe, Constantine Dymnikov. CGC solved 5 problems and came 24th in South Pacific (or 10th in NZ).

Each team got a variety of prizes from the contests main sponsor: IBM, as well as a free year of ACM Student Membership.

For more information about our regional site see our web site: The contest was organised by Stuart Marshall, Alex Potanin, and Neil Ramsay. Please contact Alex Potanin for more information.

MSCS Student Wins Best Paper Prize

13 Nov 2008 - 16:09 in Achievement

MSCS PhD student Adam Day has been awarded the prize for the best student paper for his paper "On Process Complexity", in the upcoming CATS (Computing Australasian Theory Symposium) 2009. Adam is studying towards a PhD in Algorithmic Information Theory, under the supervision of Rod Downey and Noam Greenberg

The CATS 2009 conference will be held in Wellington in January, 2009. For more information, see the symposium website:

MSCS Professor Awarded 'Most Influential Paper'

14 Nov 2008 - 12:29 in Achievement
Hot on the heels of most influential paper award from ASWEC98 earlier this year, James Noble was awarded another Most Influential Paper award, this time from the ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications - OOPSLA.

The Most Influential OOPSLA Paper Award is presented annually to the author(s) of a paper presented at the OOPSLA held 10 years prior to the award year. The award includes a prize of $1,000 to be split among the authors of the winning paper. The papers are judged by their influence over the past decade.

OOPSLA is the largest and most prestigious conference in the area of Object-Oriented programming languages. It is CORE A+ rated and has consistent low acceptance rate of around 15%.

Prof Noble received the award for his paper "Ownership Types for Flexible Alias Protection", along with co-authours David G. Clarke and John M. Potter. The citation is as follows:

In their 1998 OOPSLA paper, "Ownership Types for Flexible Protection," David Clark, John Potter, and James Noble introduced the notion of "ownership types" to control inter-object aliasing statically, making it easier to reason about the dynamic topology of an object-oriented program. This work is part of the broader trend of trying to handle issues of isolation and modularity while retaining expressiveness.

More details of the award can be found at


School of Engineering and Computer Science
School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research

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Page Updated: 18 Apr 2008 by cflewis. © Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, unless otherwise stated