Alistair Willis

I am a senior lecturer in Computing at the Open University in the UK.

I find computation fascinating as a mechanism for thinking about and modelling a variety of complex phenomena. The formal models of computing developed by Turing and Church can be used to model a wide range of physical, cognitive and social systems, as well as abstract systems, such as mathematics and logic. This lets us ask questions such as: "What problems can never be solved with computers?" "With what success can computers be used to model a variety of complex phenomena?" and "What formal systems underlie the concept of computing?"

My main research areas are in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. I am particularly interested in developing computational models of how humans perceive linguistic ambiguity, and how to measure semantic similarity between texts.

New: I was recently asked to give a public lecture about an introduction to AI at Oxford's Department for Continuing Education, which I greatly enjoyed. The slides for the talk are available here.