London Hopper is for academic researchers across the UK who are building a career in computing.

About this Event

UCL and BCS Academy will be presenting the 14th London Hopper Colloquium on Wednesday 28 October 2020. London Hopper is for academic researchers across the UK who are building a career in computing. Featuring women speakers talking about their research, a spotlight competition open to postgraduate students, and opportunities to network with other new researchers in computing, this year’s event will be held online, via Go To Webinar.  We will hear from women about their work on logic, quantum theory and digital music.

For questions please contact

*Please note that London Hopper uses an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female”, which means all individuals who identify fully or partly as women. We also welcome non-binary people to attend and present, and everyone is welcome to attend as an audience member.

Spotlight Competition

The Research Spotlight competition focuses on women research Masters and PhD students, providing them with a friendly forum for communicating the essence of their work. This will be via 3-5 minutes (depending on the number of accepted submissions) recorded presentations, broadcasted during Hopper 2020. Presentation topics may be from any research area within the field of computing, and may encompass interdisciplinary studies connected to computing. There will be 10-12 spotlight presentations, split between two thirty-minute sessions. Prizes will be awarded for the best research spotlight presentations and each entrant will also receive a prize.

If you would like to apply for the research spotlight competition, please first register for London Hopper 2020. You will receive details on how to submit your abstract within your Eventbrite confirmation email. 


Speaker Prizes: the following three prizes will be awarded:

Speaker prize (chosen by the judges):

  • £150
  • Invitation to be a speaker in the following year's London Hopper
  • 1-year membership of BCS

Runner up Prize (chosen by the judges)

  • £150

People's Choice Prize (chosen by popular vote of the attendees)

  • £150

Finalist Prizes: The following finalist prize* will be given to each finalist who makes a presentation but who does not win one of the 3 speaker prizes

  • £30

*The cash prizes and awards are provided by IBM; the 1-year membership of BCS is provided by BCSWomen.


09:50 - 10:00 - Online Registration
10:00 - 10:05 - Welcome, Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh (UCL)
10:05 - 10:10 - London Hopper History, Caroline Wardle (UCL)
10:10 - 10:40 - First Speaker: Sharon Moore (IBM)
10:45 - 11:15 - Research Spotlight 1, Student Recorded Presentations
11:15 - 11:25 - Coffee Break
11:25 - 11:55 - Second Speaker: Professor Emine Yilmaz (UCL)
12:00 - 12:30 - Research Spotlight 2, Student Recorded Presentations
12:30 - 13:45 - Lunch break (Judges meet privately to choose the Spotlight winner)
13:45 - 14:15 - Third Speaker: Miriam Backens (Birmingham)
14:20 - 14:50 - Fourth Speaker: Rebecca Stewart (Imperial)
14:50 - 15:00 - Spotlight Prize

Titles and abstracts

Sharon Moore MBE
When is Innovation not Innovation? How to make sure great tech gets great results.
Abstract: AI, machine learning, blockchain, IoT... how often do feel tempted to play tech buzzword bingo at conferences like these? We can do some magnificent things with tech, that will make a real difference but is everything we try innovation? In this session Sharon will share examples of the potential for technology - particularly within the public sector - and explore how to make sure it gets results for everyone.

Emine Yilmaz
New Ways of Thinking about Search with New Devices
Abstract: With the introduction of new types of devices in our everyday lives (e.g. smart phones, smart watches, smart glasses, etc.), the interfaces over which IR systems are used are becoming increasingly smaller, which limits the interactions users may have. Searching over devices with such small interfaces is not easy as it requires more effort to type and interact with such systems. Hence, building IR systems that can reduce the interactions needed with the device is highly critical.

Design, optimisation and evaluation of retrieval systems has traditionally focused on identifying and retrieving documents relevant to a query submitted by the user. However, with the new devices over which search engines are used for, effort to find relevant information plays a significant role for user satisfaction.

In this talk, I will first argue that effort to find relevant information in a document can have a significant impact on user satisfaction, arguing that more research should be put into devising retrieval methods that aim at minimising user effort, given a query. Ideally, a search engine should be able to understand the reason that caused the user to submit a query and it should help the user achieve the actual task by guiding her through the steps (or subtasks) that need to be completed.

Devising such task based information retrieval systems have several challenges that have to be tackled. In the second part of this talk, I will focus on the problems that need to be solved when designing such systems, as well as the progress that we have made in these areas.

Miriam Backens
Classical complexity of counting problems via quantum computing
Abstract: Quantum computing research looks at how to exploit effects from quantum physics to solve certain computational problems more efficiently than would otherwise be possible. (Classical) computational complexity aims to classify broad families of computational problems according to how difficult they are to solve on a classical, i.e. non-quantum, computer.

In this talk, I will show how knowledge from quantum computing is nevertheless very useful in determining the classical computational complexity of counting problems: computational problems that involve computing a weighted sum, such as the number of independent sets of some graph, or the total weight of independent sets where each set is weighted by its size.

Rebecca Stewart
Challenges and Opportunities in working with E-Textiles
Abstract: Electronic textiles (e-textiles) are conductive fabrics and threads that can be used to form circuitry which can be directly integrated into wearable garments or other soft furnishings like seat covers to facilitate wearable or ubiquitous computing.

This talk will present recent work showing how e-textile pressure and stretch sensors can perform tasks such as detecting body movement and even discriminating between social activities such as speaking and listening. However, there are still significant challenges in prototyping with this technology and moving it to manufacturing environments.

Inter- and trans-disciplinary expertise is required from a broad range of fields - from signal processing to clothing pattern cutting - in order to generate robust and reliable sensing systems.

About the speakers

Sharon Moore MBE is CTO for Public Sector in IBM UK, building technical strategy through examining the direction of public service and the needs of citizens, and identifying how technology can support and accelerate that journey. You’ll often find her on stage, and she’s shared stories at GovTech 2019, the Public Sector AI Summit, CogX 2019, and other events that provide insight as to the difference technology can make to public sector. Sharon takes an active role in shaping technical thought leadership within the public sector; for example, in leading IBM’s contribution towards ‘The Cloud Playbook’ recently delivered as part of the One Government Cloud Strategy. She was key to the recently-signed MOU for IBM Cloud with Crown Commercial Services, the UK Cabinet Office executive agency and trading fund.

Sharon is also a board member of CENSIS, the Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems. She was honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours 2018 for Services to Women in Technology Based Industries and presented with the 'Inspirational Women in Leadership' award at the inaugural Scotland Women in Technology Awards 2017. Sharon is Deputy Chair of BCSWomen, leads BCSWomen activity in Scotland, and is a board member of Scotland Women in Technology. She has found herself in the Computer Weekly Top 50 Women of Influence since 2016, rising to number 18 in 2019.

Professor Emine Yilmaz - I am a Professor and Turing Fellow at University College London, Department of Computer Science. I also work as an Amazon Scholar for Amazon. My research interests lie in the areas of information retrieval, data mining, and applications of machine learning, probability and statistics. I am a recipient of the Early Career Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). To this date, I have received approximately 1.5 million GBP external funding from funding agencies including European Union, EPSRC, Google, Elsevier and Bloomberg. I have served in various senior roles, including co-editor-in-chief for the Information Retrieval Journal, a member of the editorial board for the AI Journal and an elected member of the executive committee for ACM SIGIR.

I am the recipient of Karen Sparck Jones 2015 Award for the contributions of my work to the information retrieval research. I am also one of the recipients of the Google Faculty Research Award in 2015 and the Bloomberg Data Science Research Award in 2018. 

Dr Becky Stewart - Challenges and Opportunities in working with E-Textiles. Dr. Becky Stewart is a Lecturer in the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London. Coming from a music technology background, Becky's research centres around body-centric computing. Focusing on technologies such as binaural audio and e-textiles, she is interested in mediating embodied interactions with wearable computing without relying on screens or gadgets.

Dr Miriam Backens working on quantum computation and interfaces between classical and quantum complexity.  Miriam Backens studied Physics and Mathematics at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Physics and an MMath. They went on to do their PhD research in quantum computing at the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford. During a postdoc at the University of Bristol, Miriam became interested in algorithms and computational complexity beyond quantum computation, leading them to return to Oxford as a postdoc in the Theory and Algorithms group. In 2019, they became a Career Development Fellow in Computer Science at Balliol College, before moving to Birmingham as a Lecturer in Computer Science. 

The Hopper Colloquia

The London Hopper Colloquia grew out of the Scottish Hopper Colloquia, and are modelled on the American Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. These annual American meetings are held as a tribute to Admiral Grace Murray Hopper pioneer of the computer business language COBOL - who inspired many young U.S. Naval computing students during her heyday and still continues to inspire computer scientists around the world many years after her death.

Supporters of the 2020 Colloquium

UCL Computer Science is a global leader in research in experimental computer science. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation ranked UCL first place for computer science; 61% of its research is rated ‘world-leading’ and 96% of its research is rated ‘internationally excellent’. UCL Computer Science research has made a deep, lasting and sustained impact on all aspects of society.

Code written at UCL is used across all 3G mobile networks; medical image computing now means faster prostate cancer diagnosis and has developed cutting edge software for neurosurgery; a human-centred computer security approach has transformed UK government’s delivery of online security. Our degrees reflect the ever-increasing importance of fields such as virtual environments, financial computing, and machine learning; and new programmes in Web Science and Business Analytics reflect latest trends in technology and industry. Computer Science enjoys a rich history - it established the first connection to the precursor of the Internet outside the US - and continues to create innovative technologies that change lives with computers.

The BCS Academy of Computing is the Learned Society within BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and is dedicated to advancing computing as an academic discipline. By developing and supporting a cohesive community inclusive of scholars, researchers, educators and professionals with a shared commitment to the advancement of computing, the Academy aims to nurture ingenuity, inventiveness and innovation in computing. It is through our range of activities that we promote excellence in the creation, study and application of knowledge in computing. BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, promotes wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice. Bringing together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, we promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, shape public policy and inform the public.

IBM is a globally integrated enterprise operating in over 170 countries. Today IBM UK has around 20,000 employees, bringing innovative solutions to a diverse client base to help solve some of their toughest business challenges. In addition to being the world's largest IT and consulting services company, IBM is a global business and technology leader, innovating in research and development to shape the future of society at large. IBM's prized research, development and technical talent around the world partner with governments, corporations, thinkers and doers on ground breaking real world problems to help make the world work better and build a smarter planet.

Photography and Filming Notice

Please note that the lecture may be recorded and photographs will be taken throughout the lecture and reception. These will be used by the UCL for marketing and publicity in our publications, on our website and in social media or in any third party publication. Please contact the event organiser if you have any concerns or if you wish to be exempted from this activity. Please also make yourself known to event staff when you arrive at the event:

Webinar: London Hopper Colloquium 2020
Date and time
Wednesday 28 October, 10:00am - 3:00pm