Favourite Thing: Working with researchers across the world in a wide range of different areas/sciences — it’s amazing where you can apply “computational thinking” or novel computing techniques to do cutting-edge research.
Wheatley Park School, Oxford (1991-1999)
PhD in Computing, University of Bath (2004-2008); BSc (Hons) Computer Science, University of Bath (2000-2004)
Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bath (2008-2009), research intern at ARM, Cambridge (2002-2003)
Cardiff Metropolitan University
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science
Me and my work
I research how to make next-generation microprocessors run more efficiently, as well as teaching my university students programming and mathematics.
My research is at the hardware/software interface: making microprocessors run more efficiently, as well as developing tools and languages to use them more effectively.
Some of my recent research is in provably optimal code generation: this basically means that I use mathematics (formal logic) to prove when computer code is as efficient as possible. While this work is theoretical, it has very practical benefits: today, it is increasingly important for devices such as modern mobile phones, where power consumption is the one thing we still have problems with, to efficiently use their resources. We develop these amazing gadgets, have incredible applications to run on them and yet the batteries run out after using them for less than a day. This is a problem! I hope my research will provide a way of making our devices much more efficient.
I also enjoy communicating my research (as well as science in general) to schools and the general public, especially to highlight the importance/relevance of computing — please take a look at my blog: Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything or follow me on Twitter: @DrTomCrick!
My Typical Day
Solving large complex problems on high performance computers (clusters and supercomputers), as well as a bit of teaching.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day as an academic, but I normally start by going to the gym at 7:30am (when I can get up that early) and getting into the office by about 9am(ish). I get a coffee, check my emails and look at what teaching/labs I have for that day: I teach programming and mathematics on our Computing degrees, as well as being in charge of the whole of the first year cohort (c.80 students!).
On non-teaching days, I focus on my research, pretty much like running scientific experiments: I write programs to try and solve large complex (optimisation) problems on high performance computers (distributed clusters and supercomputers). Often these can take a long time to run, even on a machine with thousands of microprocessors! Otherwise I am writing research papers, chatting to colleagues or research collaborators or trying to think of interesting things to put on my blog.
I tend to relax by playing sport as much as possible: at university I competed internationally at karate, now I play rugby/touch rugby.
What I'd do with the money
Run activities to raise the general public’s awareness and highlight the importance of computing and technology — it’s the future!
I want to change people’s perception of computing as an academic subject and key research area, but also what it contributes to our daily lives.
I am already involved in trying to change how computing is taught at schools in the UK. I am the Leader in Wales of Computing at School (CAS), an organisation that aims to make computing more stimulating at school (i.e. not just focused on using software like in ICT), by understanding how computers (and computation) work and showing how important technology is to us all.
Winning IAS2011 would be an excellent start!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hardworking sporty geek.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
From iTunes Top 25 most played: Bob Marley, Mumford & Sons, Tracey Chapman, Dizzee Rascal, LTJ Bukem…
What is the most fun thing you've done?
12,000ft skydive over Lake Taupo in New Zealand.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) To continue to do interesting research that hopefully makes a genuine contribution to science and society. 2) Be successful in my job, maybe become Professor Crick some day! 3) Be happy and live a long life!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Apart from wanting to play professional sports, I think it was originally to do particle/quantum/atomic physics! But gradually moved over to computing and technology (I’m still probably a bit of a physics/maths geek now).
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Often when I was trying to be clever/funny and show off!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Presented my research to MPs at the House of Commons in 2010 (see pic above).
Tell us a joke.
Embrace your inner geek and read http://xkcd.com/