David Corney


Personal Profile

I am a scientist and an engineer, with a strong interest in discovering new knowledge and applying it to solve challenging data-driven problems. I am always interested in opportunities to apply and extend my expertise by exploring new areas. I have used machine learning and natural language processing to solve real-world problems, including information extraction from biomedical publications; collecting and analysing tweets to help journalists track breaking stories; and real-time analysis of mainstream news articles for a media monitoring tool.

Professional Experience

September 2014-present Data Scientist, Signal Media Ltd. My role is to discover, evaluate and apply the latest research in natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to analyse and classify news articles at a large scale in real-time.

  • I have led or supported work on many components, including a novel entity recognition system, topic classification and a prototype horizon-scanning & sentiment analysis tool.
  • I work in agile teams with talented developers, who help me turn prototypes into products, and with non-technical colleagues and customers.
  • Outreach includes presenting work at WSDM and Search Solutions; giving regular guest lectures at City University; and supervision of MSc students from several universities.
  • I recently attended the "Computational Fake News Analysis" workshop at King's College and the Media Society's "Fake News" event at City University.
  • Technologies used include: Python, Clojure, ElasticSearch, AWS, GitHub, NLTK, spaCy and scikit-learn.

April 2012-September 2014 Senior Research Fellow, Robert Gordon University & Honorary Research Fellow, City University London. My role was to work with journalists and developers to build tools to find and organise real-time news from Twitter.

  • I developed methods and algorithms to help journalists find breaking news stories from Twitter through novel trend-detection and 'news-hound' discovery methods.
  • I worked closely with journalists from City University and elsewhere to understand their needs.
  • I co-organized the SNOW workshop data challenge, where I led the evaluation of 10 international teams'’ submissions to a news-detection task.
  • Technologies used include: Java, R, MongoDB.

July 2009-March 2012 Research Fellow, Department of Computing, University of Surrey. My role was to develop innovative tools to analyse pictures of plant specimens from Kew Gardens to aid species identification and understand the effects of climate change.

  • I developed image processing software to extract botanical characteristics from images of herbarium leaf specimens stored at Kew Gardens.
  • I developed a machine learning system that could assign species labels to these images.
  • Technologies used include: Matlab, Java.

March 2008-March 2011 Part-time visiting lecturer, University of Hertfordshire.

  • I was responsible for the online supervision of undergraduate honours degree students, including marking coursework and exams.

July 2006-July 2009 Research fellow, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL. My role was to improve understanding of visual perception through computer modelling and data analysis.

  • I researched human and insect vision, including the appearance of optical illusions and the perception of lightness, colour, and depth.
  • I used statistical and machine learning tools to produce "virtual animals" that learned to interpret simple scenes within a synthetic ecology.

February 2004-February 2006 Part-time distance learning tutor, Queen Mary, University of London.

  • I taught several online undergraduate Computer Science modules to students from a wide variety of backgrounds, including coursework and exam preparation and marking.

November 2001-July 2006</i> Senior Research Fellow, Department of Computer Science, UCL.

    My role was to work with pharmaceutical researchers and develop tools to help them by automatically extracting information from research papers.
  • I developed software (BioRAT) designed to locate research papers on the internet and to extract useful information from them to build a database.
  • I helped develop a machine learning algorithm to discover novel patterns of information in unstructured text.
  • I worked with a major pharmaceutical company to assist their drug-development programs.
  • Technologies used include: Java, GATE

February 1995-September 1997 Analyst Programmer at Fraser Williams plc

  • I worked at a software house designing and programming large-scale database systems for public and private sector enterprises, and supervising junior colleagues.
  • Technologies used include: PRO-IV, SQL, VB.


1998-2002 PhD Computer Science at University College London.

  • I developed and evaluated various statistical and machine learning methods to model consumer preferences of food products.
  • Areas researched include feature selection, cluster analysis, outlier detection, regression, and Bayesian belief networks.
  • Technologies used include: Java, Matlab, C++.

1997-1998 MSc Computational Intelligence (with Distinction) at Plymouth University. I studied machine learning algorithms such as genetic algorithms and neural networks, and their application to engineering, business and financial systems.

1991-1994 BSc (Hons.) Cognitive Science, Class 2 (ii) from Exeter University. I studied artificial intelligence, neural networks, perception, cognition and linguistics, along with more general computer science and psychology modules.

Selected publications

A full set of my peer-reviewed publications is available online at dcorney.com/publications, and copies of all papers are available on request. Recent papers include:

D. Corney, D. Albakour, M. Martinez and S. Moussa (2016) "What do a Million News Articles Look Like?" in First International Workshop on Recent Trends in News Information Retrieval (NewsIR'16; co-located with ECIR 2016), Padua, Italy. Full text

S. Schifferes, N. Newman, N. Thurman, D. Corney, A. Göker, and C. Martin, (2014) "Identifying and verifying news through social media," Digital Journalism 2(3), pp. 406-418.

E. Byrne and D. Corney (2014) "Sweet FA: sentiment, swearing and soccer," in ICMR2014 1st Workshop on Social Multimedia and Storytelling, Glasgow, UK, Apr. 2014. Pre-print.

Aiello, L.M., Petkos,G., Martin, C., Corney, D.P.A., Papadopoulos, S., Skraba, R., Goker, A., Kompatsiaris,Y., Jaimes A. (2013) "Sensing trending topics in Twitter", IEEE Transactions on Multimedia. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1109/TMM.2013.2265080

Other Skills and Achievements

Community: I served as the treasurer for a local tenants and residents association for two years, help to track expenses and plan spending on several community projects.
Woodwork: I have recently become interested in woodworking and have made children's toys, decorations and several small items of furniture.
Running: I enjoy running and regularly compete in 10k races.