16 July 2021

David Maxwell has been announced as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Dissertation award, a prestigious academic award, run jointly by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in collaboration with the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC).

David (University of Glasgow) was recognised for his thesis: ‘Modelling search and stopping in interactive information retrieval.’

Highly commended were Alexander Kuhnle (University of Cambridge) for ‘Evaluating visually grounded language capabilities using microworlds’ and Maximilian-Joel Schliech (University of Oxford) for ‘Structure-Aware Machine Learning over Multi-Relational Databases.’

The competition aims to increase the visibility of the significant research contributions made by the UK to computer science by postgraduate students.

Due to the substantial number of high-quality dissertation entries, the committee had to extend their examining time to ensure that they found the one dissertation that stood above the others.

Referees for David Maxwell’s thesis stated: “The thesis is outstanding in every single respect - both in terms of content and presentation. If it had not been written as a PhD thesis, one could think it is the work of a well-established IR (Information Retrieval) researcher” - and - “The work has already resulted in the publication of a number of highly cited papers, and I am certain that the thesis will catalyse a substantial amount of further research on these topics.”

The Chair of CPHC/BCS Distinguished Dissertation Competition Committee, Dr Iain Phillips from Loughborough University, said: “The selection this year was incredibly difficult due to the addition loads caused by COVID-19 on everyone - reviewers and committee alike. However, this remains a tribute to the quality of all the submissions. The prestige of this award brings attention to the high-quality research of the winner and runners-up and indeed all the nominated dissertations. In what will be my last year chairing the competition, I would like to thank all nominators for selecting the best dissertations, the reviewers for all their hard work providing reviews and especially the members of the committee for their support over the past few years.”

“COVID-19 has presented us with many issues in both further extending the review time, the announcement time and the eventual award time. The winner will be presented with their award at a time / date to be announced.”

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