ANC Seminar - 28/01/2020


Chris Williams


Dr Andrew Fitzgibbon


AI and Programming Languages


In 1957, many (most?) computer programs were the expression of mathematical formulae in machine instructions.  It was tedious, so Backus and colleagues wrote the “FORmula TRANslator”, perhaps the first modern compiler. FORTRAN revolutionised the writing of numerical code and the richness of tasks the computer could perform. Today, we see another resurgence in numerical programming, in the domain of machine learning, computer vision, speech processing and other areas of “AI”.   Such code needs to run fast on large datasets for “training”, or to run very efficiently on small machines for “inference”.   To serve this need, a variety of frankly clunky domain-specific tools such as TensorFlow and PyTorch have emerged.   Like FORTRAN-1, they are incredibly useful tools, but there is room for improvement.

I will talk about several potential improvements, in languages from Julia to C++ to F# to Haskell, beginning with some rather surprising benchmarks of algorithmic differentiation tools, to compilation of functional programs to non-garbage-collected runtimes, to a new view of DSLs inspired by Julia’s slogan “it’s just code”.


Andrew Fitzgibbon leads the “All Data AI” (ADA) research group at Microsoft in Cambridge, UK.

He is a computer vision researcher, best known for his work on 3D vision, having been a core contributor to the Emmy-award-winning 3D camera tracker “boujou“, to body tracking for Kinect for Xbox 360, and for the articulated hand-tracking interface to Microsoft’s HoloLens.

His research interests are broad, spanning computer vision, machine learning, programming languages, computer graphics and occasionally a little neuroscience.

He has published numerous highly-cited papers, and received many awards for his work, including ten “best paper” prizes at various venues, the Silver medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the BCS Roger Needham award. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Computer Society, and the International Association for Pattern Recognition, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the British Machine Vision Association.

Jan 28 2020 -

ANC Seminar - 28/01/2020

Dr Andrew Fitzgibbon

G.03, IF