Monday, September 20, 2010

Summary of NZCSRSC 2010

During the mid-trimester break 12-15 April 2010, Victoria University of Wellington hosted the 8th New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference (NZCSRSC) on the Kelburn campus. The conference was organised and run by postgraduate computer science students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The aim of the conference is to promote and strengthen the nationwide community of ICT research students.

There were a number of exciting keynote speakers. Nat Torkington a Victoria University alumnus talked about The Career-Spotter’s Field Guide, which explained about life beyond the ivy-covered walls of academia. Nat drew upon his vast experience and anecdotal evidence from working in small startups to large corporations. Rob O'Callahan from Mozilla talked about how computer science can change the world. Rob encouraged people to think hard about what research problems one should solve in order to make a significant impact on society. Sebastian Castro from the NZ Registry Services talked about A Day in the Life of the Internet project which collects traffic data from key locations of the Internet for analysis to provide insight and questions about the future of the Internet. Miriam Lips from Victoria University of Wellington talked about the value of e-government research for Designing 21st Century Government. There was an entertaining panel on what are your options once you have completed your Masters or PhD degree. The panelists ranged from people working in academia, government organisations, industrial research labs, startups, and large corporations. They gave the audience interesting insight into their careers since completing their PhDs, and offered some good advice to follow.

A range of workshops gave students the opportunity to build on their research skills. Workshop topics ranged from critical thinking, thesis writing, time management, presentation and poster skills, Maori and Pacific Nation students engaging in computer science research, women in the New Zealand IT industry, preparing to succeed in the job market, how to get yourself the job you want, the publication game, commercialisation and intellectual property in the IT, to discussions on careers in research and the industry in general.

A core component of the annual Conference are the presentations and posters from students. This year 33 graduates studying at New Zealand universities gave presentations and the standard of talks were of high quality, while 21 graduates had short papers presented as research posters. The Intergen best paper presentation was awarded to Michael Walmsley, “Automatic Adaption of Dynamic Second Language Reading Texts” and the IET best poster to Stefan Schliebs, “Heterogeneous Probabilistic Models for Optimization and Modelling of Evolving Spiking Neural Networks”.

The conference not only gave student researchers an understanding of what others are doing, but also the opportunity to interact with others who are motivated and passionate about their work. But it wasn't all work. Highlights of the conference included the powhiri and kapahaka group at Pipitea Marae, Google opening dinner, Pingar social night that involved ten-pin bowling, and Careers Industry Night where a number of companies were present to recruit eager graduate students.

The conference was made possible with the tremendous effort by the organising committee, local university contacts, and support from our key sponsors: Google, Intergen, Pingar, The IET, InternetNZ, VicLink, and Victoria University of Wellington. We are also grateful for the valuable assistance provided by the following people: Sue Hall, Ally Reid, Peter Andreae, David Pearce, John Hine, Doug Hauraki, Ian Witten, Tim Bell, Robert Amor, Rachel Blagojevic, and our workshop presenters. Further information, such as presentation slides from workshops and recordings of some keynote speakers are available on the web site. We look forward to next year’s conference at Massey University, Palmerston North.

Craig Anslow,
General Chair

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Interview with Intergen

The organising committee recently caught up with Emillie McKenna from Intergen who are a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC 2010.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Intergen?

Emillie: We are proud to be yellow. We are proud to be geeks. We’re big on talent, big on empowering our people, and there’s no mistaking us in a crowd. We’re passionate about what we do and proud of what we’ve done. We think big, we innovate, we play hard and we work smart. We’ve been on the block for over 10 years and have grown like topsy since the early days. We have more than 200 staff spread over our offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Sydney and Perth, and we’re still growing - which is where you come in.

NZCSRSC: What does Intergen do?

Emillie: Intergen specialises in the design, development and integration of business knowledge, information technology and creativity. We are New Zealand’s most experienced provider of Microsoft-based business solutions, focussing on delivering business value in our solutions and working closely with Microsoft to ensure we have the best possible understanding of their technologies and directions. This focus and understanding allows us to be highly successful early adopters of their newest technologies.

NZCSRSC: How is Intergen helping with global issues?

Emillie: Intergen are very focused on helping with global issues such as lowering our carbon footprint by using 100% recycled paper when printing and having various recycling stations around our offices.

NZCSRSC: Why is Intergen a great company to work for?

Emillie: Intergen has participated in the JRA Best Places to Work Survey for four years now. The strongest theme that comes out of the survey every year is that our people more than anything else make Intergen a great place to work! Since day one Intergen has had a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: That everyone, every day is touched positively by the things we do. Intergen’s culture comes down to our people, and we’re lucky to have talented and passionate staff who love using technology to make a real difference. It’s not just a job to us.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Intergen?

Emillie: Intergen does not have any internship opportunities we do have a fantastic graduate programme – so how does it work?

Graduates come on board as new Intergenities in late January. There is a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet, so to make things a little easier, we run a Boot Camp in Wellington for all new graduates. Not only is it a great way to find out in-depth information about Intergen through presentations, you get to meet and greet, attend workshop sessions, learn about the teams and what they do and how we work.

Here’s what the 2010 graduates are saying:

“Life beyond Uni is awesome. You initially dread being cooped up in the office, but it’s not like that at Intergen!” - Elaiza

“I love the culture, drive and enthusiasm here at Intergen!” - Mohit

“Intergen has been an amazing eye-opening experience for me ever since I started working here!” - Margaret

“I love being an Intergenite!!” - Matt

“We get to work with the latest and greatest technology, often before it’s officially released!” - Andy

It’s not all work and no play though - we also have a social event one night so you can ‘let your hair down’ with your new workmates before you get into the real work. To be in the running for the 2011 graduate intake, complete the application online at and submit a covering letter including which city you wish to work in, CV and a copy of your academic transcript. Applications open 1 April 2010 and close 18th June 2010.

For more information on what we do and why you should join us, check us out at

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guidelines for Paper Presentations and Posters

We have now put on some presentation guidelines for presenting your paper and creating a poster. You will also need to create something either slides for your 60 seconds Poster Madness. If you have any questions please get in touch with us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conference Registration is Open

To register for NZCSRSC 2010 please go to our web site and complete the two steps:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Team Introductions

Hello Reader,

We realise we are long over due for some introductions to the Victoria University of Wellington team organising this year’s NZCSRSC conference so here we go…
As the General Chair my main role is to oversee all areas of the conference, ensure the direction, momentum of the project is maintained, and make sure that everyone is having fun :-)

There are lots of exciting things happening this year! We are almost at the end of our paper review process. We have confirmed some very exciting keynote speakers and panelists too. We will have some interesting workshops as well. Please keep and eye on our web site over the next few weeks as we will have a lot more information available very soon including paper notifications, camera ready instructions, and conference registration. Also remember to use the Facebook Discussion area or contact me for any queries you may have.

To keep in touch with what is happening to the conference follow us on Twitter, read our Blog, join the NZCSRSC Facebook group, and subscribe to the mailing list

All the best.

General Chair

An Interview with Pingar

The organising committee recently caught up with Peter Wren-Hilton, Co-founder & Director, Pingar LP who are a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC 2010 for an interview.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Pingar?

Peter: Pingar is a Tauranga-based Search and Online Publishing company. We have worked closely with The University of Waikato / WaikatoLink and Auckland University of Technology to develop a number of algorithms to add semantic and natural language search into Internet and Enterprise user’s search queries. We have also developed a unique search results platform based around generating instant formatted PDF reports from a user’s search query input.

NZCSRSC: Why should I use Pingar Search instead of other search engines?

Peter: Pingar is search engine agnostic. It adds semantic search capability to any search engine. The same applies to our back-end PDF publishing platform. Pingar launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Search ‘layer’ in Las Vegas in October 2009 and has recently launched its Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Search ‘layer’. Pingar is currently developing ‘layers’ for other proprietary and open source search engines. Our aim is to improve the Enterprise and Internet user’s search experience by enabling them to ‘fine-tune’ their search query as part of their search query process. This improves the quality of the search query results and significantly reduces the time it takes to find the right results.

NZCSRSC: What is natural language search?

Peter: We are moving away from traditional ‘keyword’ search. We want query input strings to have meaning so that they become ‘natural language’ questions rather than just a series of keywords. Pingar’s semantic search algorithms are a step in this direction. They provide context to the user’s initial keyword query input and enable the user to drill down their search query. ‘Pure’ natural language search is not there yet, but it is a path we are rapidly progressing. Eventually, it will go beyond the desktop. Imagine being able to query your mobile phone’s search function with a natural language question and have it return a natural language answer

NZCSRSC: What technologies are behind Pingar Search?

Peter: A combination of technologies lie behind Pingar Search. We are currently working with researchers in the fields of data mining, digital libraries, machine learning and artificial intelligence. A combination of technologies are therefore behind the platforms we are building. Going forward, we are looking to extend this research into areas including improved contextualisation, improved summarisation, improving the mobile UI and making our technology more compatible with non-Latin characters.

NZCSRSC: Where and when can I start using Pingar Search?

Peter: An online demo of Pingar’s core semantic and PDF technology will be available from April via our main corporate site at We will be launching our Advanced Summarisation algorithm in June at the 2010 Microsoft SharePoint Users Conference in Wellington and demonstrating Pingar’s Chinese language version of our semantic search and PDF platform in Shanghai on July 22nd at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Tauranga-based maybe, but with a real focus on global Internet and Enterprise markets and partnerships.

NZCSRSC: What role does Pingar play in the NZ ICT industry?

Peter: During 2010, Pingar will be announcing the establishment of an Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering Research centre in Tauranga. This centre will provide research collaboration between Pingar, the University of Waikato, Auckland University of Technology and the University of Wales (UK). We have initiated an exchange of PHD and post doc researchers between NZ / UK. In the UK, they will be placed with Pingar’s UK-based subsidiary, Kaimai Research. The ‘NZ ICT’ aim is to generate both functional and blue sky research in the areas of Advanced Search and Knowledge Engineering to make New Zealand a global centre of excellence in this space. The bigger vision is for New Zealanders to understand the real depth of knowledge and talent that we have in our universities and that as a country we need to provide world leading research positions to make New Zealand an attractive home and destination for global scientific research talent.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Pingar?

Peter: Yes! Pingar is seeking to increase its internal research teams with exceptional people. We are aiming not simply to build a great company, but provide global research opportunities right here in NZ We are working with our University partners, Tech NZ and the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology (FRST) to identify the best candidates to make Pingar and New Zealand a global leader in this space. You do not have to have been to either the University of Waikato or Auckland University of Technology to apply. We are keen to engage with leading candidates in any NZ University or research institute. To register your interest in either employment or internship opportunities with Pingar, simply email your CV to or meet us at our stand at the Careers Industry Night on Wednesday 14 April at NZCSRSC 2010.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Interview with Google

The organising committee recently caught up with Isa Notermans, Talent & Outreach People Programs Specialist from Google (Australia) who are a Platinum Sponsor of NZCSRSC for an interview.

NZCSRSC: Who and what is Google?

Isa: At Google we are making the world’s information universally accessible and useful to all, which can come in all shapes and sizes such as our search engine, Android and Chrome operating systems and our wonderful world of apps. Google was founded in 1998 by two Stanford Grads – Larry Page & Sergey Brin and the term Google comes from ‘Googol’ – 10 to the 100 zero’s relating to the fact that there is an endless supply of information out there.

NZCSRSC: What makes Google tick?

Isa: One thing over all else powers Google’s momentum and that is it’s people. Those that are passionate about making a difference and making the world’s information universally accessible and useful all contribute to what Google has become and what it will be. We share a few common values, top of most is our belief that if we focus on the user, everything else will follow. For example, search is what we're known for. For us we won't be satisfied until a user finds exactly what they are looking for first time, every time. Naturally we still have a long way to go!

NZCSRSC: What can we expect from Google in 2010?

Isa: We are constantly innovating and working on ways to improve our products, so you can expect to see lots of exciting things this year ... locally, we're busy working on products and features that make life easier for Australians and New Zealanders, like making it easy to search for movie show times near you, or being able to see public transport options on Google Maps.

NZCSRSC: What is Google and the Internet going to be like in 2020?

Isa: It's very hard to predict ... with a flourishing internet eco-system, you never know where the next application will come from. We do notice a few major trends though ... the web is becoming increasingly social as people want to share the useful and fun information they find, and more and more people are visiting the internet from their mobile phone. As these trends converge we're going to see some really interesting new products emerge.

NZCSRSC: How is Google helping with global issues such as climate change?

Isa: Climate change is something we feel very strongly about, particularly because it fits so well with our mission of organising information and making it accessible and useful. More information
about how power is being used can help consumers make more informed decisions, which is why we have created a feature called Power Meter (available in the US right now) so people can manage and monitor their usage more closely. We've also developed special layers for Google Earth that share climate change information. To make sure that we're doing our part, we're committed to being carbon neutral, and we've designed some of the world's most efficient data centres, as well as developing on-site renewable energy in some places, to reduce our impact on the environment.

NZCSRSC: What involvement within the NZ ICT community does Google have?

Isa: We are currently about to embark on our Australasian national campus tours. We will bringing our roadshow to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Waikato. We also have several Alumn’s working at our office in Sydney and around the world and our Girl Geek Coffee Clubs on campus currently have a chapter running out of the University of Auckland.

NZCSRSC: How is Google helping support women in computer science and technology?

Isa: In lot’s of ways! The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship is in it’s 5th year! Through the scholarship, we aim to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders in their communities. Such scholarships have created programs like the Google Girl Geek Coffee Clubs on campus as well as sponsorship of the Girl Geek Dinners in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. We also want to encourage young girls to think about computer science at a tertiary level which is why we started the Girls@ Google Day. This year we hope to launch the Junior Anita Borg Scholarship for such girls hoping to study an ICT discipline at University.

NZCSRSC: Why is Google a great place to work?

Isa: We still maintain a small company feel. At lunchtime, almost everyone eats in the office café, sitting at whatever table has an opening and enjoying conversations with Googlers from different
teams. Our commitment to innovation depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. Every employee is a hands-on contributor, and everyone wears several hats (as well as bare feet and shorts if that is what you feel comfortable in). The rumours are true, we enjoy a very colourful and entertaining workplace that is filled with inspiring people, projects and passions.

NZCSRSC: Are there any employment or internship opportunities at Google?

Isa: There sure are! As we continue to grow, we are always looking for those who share a commitment to creating search perfection and having a great time doing it. We are aggressively inclusive in our hiring, and we favor ability over experience. Also, take a look at:

We have a year round intake of interns for our 12 week full-time program for all degree levels check out: