Visiting Blighty in Autumn

After a long time away, I decided to visit the UK this Autumn. It was a refreshing trip, not least because I got to hang out with some of my dear old friends and colleagues, most of whom I got to know during my time at the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester.

The tour was packed with action, one could say. The itenerary went like so:

SheffieldLondonBirminghamManchesterBath and Bristol.

Looks like a band on tour? Perhaps a pub crawl? It was neither. Here is a run down of what transpired.


Sheffield is transforming from being the yester city of steel, to becoming the city of Rigorous Research, at least if you care about Nature Inspired Computation. Caught up with an old friend and collaborator, who happens to lead the aforementioned effort. Sheffield is, in fact, also the city with a solid Gaussian Processes core! I had the pleasure of attending the summer school on the subject, organised by some old colleagues who used to hang out on the other side of the peaks in Manchester a few years ago.

Steam Yard Cafe, where some of the summer
school attendants routinely went.

Something tells me we ought to put these two foundations of Sheffield together and automate the search for kernels for GPs at some point. Just a random thought.


Imagine a weekend in London. Yes. One of those. I know there is high variance in London experiences. Let’s just keep it mysterious, shall we! I did get to visit one of Google’s offices to partake in some Friday evening festivities, thanks to a friend.

Some post-it art at Google’s King’s Cross office.


Apart from some real ale, which one must, the company of old friends/collaborators in the city I grew up away from my first home, thus my second home, is always a special thing. Compared to back in the days as PhD students at Bham, it is somewhat of a luxury to just swing by and also get to give a research seminar at their research group. This happened at ALICE, the Aston Lab for Intelligent Collectives Engineering. It was a talk on deep reinforcement learning (deep RL), which is mostly what I talk about now-a-days. I got to meet some PhD students working/intending to work on the subject as well, which is always a refreshing exercise.


My home after Birmingham, thus my third home, in the company of more friends, visiting Manchester was similarly special to visiting Birmingham. Yet again, it was a pleasure to give a research seminar at the University. Seminar on what you ask? Deep RL of course. During the seminar, it was also nice to see a few familiar faces from the Machine Learning and Optimisation and the Advanced Processor Technologies groups from Computer Science, and from the Business School’s Decision and Cognitive Science Research Centre.

Bath and Bristol

Caught up with an old friend in Bath. Also visited Bristol, which I have some good memories of from a decade ago. This time around, it was to meet up with the nice people at Graphcore.

Walk along river Avon in Bristol.

Not a pub crawl after all. But, if the name of my band were RL Itching to Go Wild, this could then be seen as a UK tour. But there is no band.