PhD — Computer Science, University of Otago, Mid 2012–End 2015 (Conferred May 2016)

Thesis Title: Improved Indexing & Search Throughput.

Investigating various ways to make the process of indexing, and searching, web-scale collections more efficient without impacting the effectiveness of the system. For instance, we can choose to not index certain documents, but if we chose the wrong documents then this could have a significant impact on the effectiveness. My research was performed using the ATIRE open source search engine, this search engine was developed at Otago and I remain actively involved in its development.

During my candidature I was, and continue to be, an active member of the information retrieval community, having attended and presented at multiple conferences and workshops. Including SIGIR, CIKM, and ADCS.

My original topic was to do with relevance feedback and diversification, their both improving results while appearing to be performing directly opposed operations.

MSc (Thesis Only) with Distinction — Computer Science, University of Otago, Late 2009–Early 2011

Thesis Title: The New User Problem in Collaborative Filtering.

The new user problem is a problem that all collaborative filtering systems must face. How can the system make recommendations for a user when it does not know what that user likes? I developed new methods for a collaborative filtering system to choose which items to present to a new user for them to rate. This technique of presenting items to the user forms a method by which the new-user problem can be alleviated for collaborative filtering systems. Developed new metrics for evaluation of, and comparison between, the different methods a system might choose to select the next item.

BSc(Hons) First Class — Computer Science, University of Otago, 2005–2008

For my honours research project I worked on the Netflix Prize — an exercise in collaborative filtering, machine learning and data mining. Honours projects are year long projects designed to test research ability.


Posters & Presentations

Active Involvement

  • Information Processing & Management (Elsevier)
  • Information Processing Letters (Elsevier)
  • Information Retrieval Journal (Springer)
  • Transactions on Information Systems (ACM)
  • Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering (IEEE)
  • SIGIR2018 — 41st International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
    Program Committee [CoreIR/Search & Ranking Track]
  • ADCS2017 — 22nd Australasian Document Computing Symposium
    Program Committee
  • ICTIR2017 — 3rd ACM International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval
    Program Committee
  • ADCS2016 — 21st Australasian Document Computing Symposium
    Program Committee
  • ADCS2015 — 20th Australasian Document Computing Symposium
    Program Committee
  • ADCS2014 — 19th Australasian Document Computing Symposium
  • LIARR Workshop @ SIGIR2017 — Lucene for Information Access and Retrieval Research
    Program Committee
  • RIGOR Workshop @ SIGIR2016 — Reproducibility, Inexplicability, and Generalizability of Results
    Background Machinations – Open-Source IR Reproducibility Challenge


  • University of Otago Computer Science Department Postgraduate Publishing Prize – 2014
  • ACM SIGIR Student Travel Grant – 2013
  • ADCS Student Travel Grant – 2013

Teaching & Job History

  • Instructor — University of Waterloo
    • CS241: Foundations of Sequential Programming [Fall 2016]
  • Lab Demonstrator — University of Otago

    A lab demonstrator has similar responsibilities to a teaching-assistant, helping students with their practical lab work. This demonstrating was undertaken while studying for both MSc (COMP150) and PhD (COSC241, COSC242, COSC244).

    • COMP150: Practical Programming (in Python) [S1-2009]
    • COSC241: Programming and Problem Solving [S1-2013, S1-2014, S1-2015]
    • COSC242: Algorithms and Data Structures [S2-2014, S2-2015]
    • COSC244: Data Communications, Networks and the Internet [S2-2014, S2-2015]
  • Assistant Research Fellow — University of Otago

    Tasked with investigating the areas within the indexing process that the rest of the system were waiting on, and analysing these areas.

  • Research Assistant — University of Otago

    A research assistant is typically employed on a short-term contract in order to assist staff members with an ongoing research project. I have been involved in two of these:

    Relevance and Readability [2009]
    Working on incorporating readability metrics into a search engine to re-rank results in order to return readable as well as relevant results. Involved working on a large C++ codebase (ATIRE) worked on by multiple people. Undertaken simultaneously with MSc study.

    Collaborative Filtering Improvement [2008–2009]
    Working on improving the predictions made by implementing high level algorithms for my collaborative filtering system I developed as part of my honours degree project.


I have been heavily involved in the development of the ATIRE search engine. ATIRE is a research search engine written in C++ and has been demonstrated to be fast at both indexing and searching.

I wrote the memcached exporter for the Prometheus monitoring system. This has since been incorporated as a project under the Prometheus Github organization.

I did the majority of the background running and checking of scripts for the Reproducibility Challenge.

As mainly a learning exercise, I designed and built a community site for the game Hearthstone. The site allowed players to install a client which would upload game logs to a server. These logs would then be parsed to provide an accurate play-by-play web-viewable version of the game. During this exercise I learnt a lot about the Docker and Amazon AWS eco-systems, as well as modern front-end development suites such as React.js.

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