David Corney's CV

Food design (PhD)
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Personal Profile

I am a scientist and engineer, with a strong interest in discovering new knowledge and applying it to solve challenging data-driven problems. In my current role, I am developing methods to help journalists find and organise real-time news from Twitter and other social networks. This includes accessing and processing large quantities of text rapidly to find trends and patterns. I am working as part of an EU-wide consortium of academic and commercial partners and work closely with journalists and computer scientists.

I have always worked to transfer of knowledge between industry and academia, drawing on the different strengths of each. I have several years of commercial computing experience, when I acquired many technical and non-technical skills, including software development, liaison with clients and supervision of junior colleagues. I returned to university to undertake an MSc and then a PhD both of which involved applying machine learning techniques to industrial data mining problems. This allowed me to explore and expand my interests in machine learning and in the application of novel techniques to practical problems.

Since then, I have held a number of research posts at UK universities. Along the way, I have successfully collaborated with Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and Kew Gardens, along with various academic partners. My work has covered a range of fields including machine learning, large-scale text analysis, data mining, image processing, and natural and artificial vision. I also act as a ad hoc reviewer for several academic journals and conferences.


1998-2002 PhD Computer Science at University College, London. My thesis is "Intelligent Analysis of Small Data Sets for Food Design", and concerns the development and evaluation of machine learning methods, motivated by product design work within the food industry. The aim is to model consumer preferences of food products, by learning relationships from very small data sets. Areas researched include feature selection, cluster analysis, outlier detection, regression, and Bayesian belief networks.

Unilever plc sponsored this work, and provided data and advice throughout. I spent 6 months at one of their research centres (Colworth House), which allowed me to disseminate current academic thinking within Unilever and learn more about their approaches to data analysis.

The research was undertaken within the Postgraduate Training Partnership (PTP) established between Sira Ltd and University College London. PTPs are a joint initiative of the DTI and EPSRC. As a PTP Associate, I attended several training courses, including management, marketing, finance and presentation skills. I also attended a residential "business game" training session jointly organised by the DTI and EPSRC.

1997-1998 MSc Computational Intelligence (with Distinction) at Plymouth University. This included study of adaptive intelligent systems such as genetic algorithms and neural networks, and their application to engineering, business and financial systems. My thesis reported an investigation into using Genetic Programming as a tool for high-dimensional symbolic regression and system identification. This work was in collaboration with Unilever plc, and involved modelling chemical data sets. The degree also included modules in project management and communication skills.

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

Professional Experience

September 2014-present Data Scientist, Signal Media Ltd. My role is to use the latest research in text analytics and machine learning to develop algorithms to classify and cluster news articles and social media text.

April 2012-September 2014 Senior Research Fellow, Robert Gordon University & Honorary Research Fellow, City University London &. I was part of a team developing novel methods to process real-time, large-scale data from online social networks (such as Twitter and Facebook), in order to identify and explain breaking news stories. I helped to develop and evaluate novel trend-detection algorithms and methods to identify useful sources on Twitter. I recently co-organized the SNOW workshop data challenge, where I led the evaluation of 10+ international teams’ submissions to a news-detection task.

July 2009-March 2012 Research Fellow, Department of Computing, University of Surrey. I developed image processing software to extract botanical characters from images of herbarium specimens, stored at Kew Gardens. I also developed a machine learning system that could assign species labels to images.

March 2008-2011 Part-time visiting lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire. My responsibilities include online supervision of undergraduate honours degree students, including marking coursework and exams.

July 2006-2009 Research fellow, Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL. I investigated human and insect vision, including the appearance of optical illusions and the perception of lightness, colour, and depth, in collaboration with visual and computational neuroscientists. I used statistical and machine learning tools, such as neural networks, to produce "virtual animals" that learned to interpret simple scenes within a synthetic ecology. I then analysed their behaviour and internal representations. I also attempted to teach some bees to play "naughts and crosses" but with limited success.

February 2004 - February 2006 Part-time tutor / teaching assistant for the Open and Distance Learning Unit of Queen Mary, University of London. I taught several undergraduate Computer Science modules to distance learning students, on an ad hoc basis. This involved online teaching and discussion with students from a wide variety of backgrounds, along with coursework and exam preparation and marking.

November 2001 - July 2006 Senior Research Fellow at University College, London, Department of Computer Science. From 2001-2004, I worked with a major pharmaceutical company to develop software to aid their drug-development programs. This collaboration later continued and broadened to include a second pharmaceutical company and several academic biomedical research groups. The software (BioRAT) is designed to locate documents on the internet, and to extract useful information from them to build a database. My work also involved undergraduate and Master’s level project supervision, and some classroom-based teaching support work.

April -September 1999 Part-time research consultant, Computer Science, UCL. During the first year of my PhD, I was employed as a research consultant at UCL as part of the AIMEDIA project in 1999. This bought together European retailers and academics, along with marketing and software companies, to develop systems to produce targeted advertising for home shoppers. My work included the evaluation of possible data mining tools and an initial set of data mining studies, and concluded with several co-authored reports and presentations to the partners.

February 1995-September 1997 Analyst Programmer at Fraser Williams plc, a London software house, where I was involved in designing and programming two large-scale database systems. These were both bespoke systems, and involved long-term projects for clients drawn from both the Government and private sectors. Besides programming, my responsibilities included visiting these clients on-site to discuss and clarify their needs, and occasionally to provide training courses. I also took responsibility for supervising more junior programmers and providing on-the-job training. I tested software, and wrote both user and technical documentation.

Technical and Personal Skills

Computing Skills

I have professional experience of several major programming languages and operating systems, including Matlab, Java (inc. Weka and GATE toolboxes), Python, R, C++, VB, MongoDB, SQL, Prolog and PRO-IV, under Windows and UNIX-style systems.

Other Achievements and Interests

Music: I enjoy creating experimental music and sound recordings, including some collaborative work.
Photography: I have a long-standing interest in photography, including exploring digital image manipulation and synthesis inspired by the human visual system.
Running: I enjoy running and regularly compete in 10k and half-marathon races.
Languages: Basic knowledge of Japanese and French.

Publications and Technical Reports

Some of my recent publications are listed below. A full list is available here.

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

Corney, D., Martin, C., Göker, A. (2014) "Spot the ball: Detecting sports events on Twitter", ECIR2014, Amsterdam.

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.

Corney, D., Martin, C., Göker, A., Spyromitros-Xioufis, E., Papadopoulos, S., Kompatsiaris, Y., Aiello, L., and Thomee, B., "SocialSensor: Finding diverse images at MediaEval 2013," in MediaEval Workshop, Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 2013.

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

Corney, D. P. A, Clark, J. Y., Tang, H. T. and Wilkin, P. (2012) "Automatic Extraction of Leaf Characters from Herbarium Specimens", Taxon, 61(1), pp. 231-244. Preprint

Cope, J. S., Corney, D. P. A, Clark, J. Y., Remagnino, P., Wilkin, P. (2012) "Plant species identification using digital morphometrics: A review", Expert Systems with Applications, 39, pp. 7562-7573. Preprint

Corney, D.P.A., Byrne, E.L., Buxton, B. F. and Jones, D. T. (2008) A Logical Framework for Template Creation and Information Extraction, in Data Mining: Foundations and Practice, editors: T.Y. Lin, A. Wasilewska, F. Petry, and Y. Xie, Studies in Computational Intelligence, Volume 118, Springer. Pre-print

Corney, D.P.A. and Lotto, R.B. (2007) What Are Lightness Illusions and Why Do We See Them? PLoS Computational Biology 3, no. 9:e180
(This New Scientist article also described our work.)

Corney, D. P. A., Buxton, B. F., Langdon W.B. and Jones, D. T. (2004) "BioRAT: Extracting Biological Information from Full-length Papers", Bioinformatics 2004; 20(17), pp. 3206-13. PubMed | Journal | pre-print (local PDF)

Contact Details

Email:  dcorney@dcorney.com   or   d.p.a.corney@rgu.ac.uk
Homepage: http://www.dcorney.com/
Phone: (+44) 07507 204684
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