Lubbock Day 2011 – Tuesday, 7th June

Professor Thomas Hofmann, Director of Engineering, Google Zurich, gave this year’s prestigious Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture. Guests included academics, alumni, students and representatives from industry and government, as well as a number of pupils and teachers from schools in Oxfordshire.

Group photo - Lubbock day 2011
Pictured from left to right are: Dr Alastair Howatson (Lubbock Trustee); Professor Guy Houlsby (Head of the Department of Engineering Science); Professor Thomas Hofmann (Guest Lecturer, Google Zurich); Lord Avebury (Chairman of the Lubbock Trust).

Professor Hofmann’s lecture was titled, “Google – 1 billion searches a day and counting”.  He provided a fascinating insight into some of the software and hardware strategies adopted by Google to provide core services such as efficient search as well as more advanced features such as Google Suggest, Realtime Search, AdWords and AdSense.

Professor Hofmann provided an overview of Google-scale computing and explained why the speed of light is simply not fast enough for information engineering at this scale. His talk further touched on the development cycle adopted within Google designed specifically to allow for creativity to percolate through to the production stage in a robust and time-efficient manner and provided a preview of things yet to come in terms of more commercial applications such as Google Product Search and Google Wallet.

In recent years the term 'Google' has become synonymous with an ability to accurately and efficiently master the torrent of information making up the world-wide web. Today, Google indexes of the order of one trillion URLs and services around one billion search-requests every day. Google AdSense, which selects and displays advertising specifically tailored to the content of a webpage, now reaches over three-quarters of the global population. Despite the deceptively simple interface encountered by the end-user, this success is based on often pioneering solutions to truly vast scale information engineering challenges.

Lecture slides

Professor Hofmann’s lecture slides are available to download.


The 2011 Lubbock Lecture from Engineering Science Oxford on Vimeo.

With special thanks to the Trustees of the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Trust for their continued support.

The 4th Year Undergraduate Project Poster/Hardware Exhibition

Guests attending the Lubbock Lecture had the opportunity to visit the 4th Year undergraduate project exhibition. Established in 2001, the exhibition this year included a range of posters and hardware.

The judges, all of whom were alumni of the Department of Engineering Science and now working in industry, were: Mark Gooding (Merton College/Mirada Medical); Richard Lane (Oriel College/QinetiQ); Margot Mear (New College/Atkins); Mike Parker (Keble College/STMicroelectronics).

Prizes were awarded to:

  • Emma Hale – The Laing O’Rourke Best Civil and Construction Engineering Award
    “Innovative Energy Dissipation Systems for Seismic Resistant Steel Buildings”
  • Kirsty McNaught – Sony Image Processing Prize
    “Quantitative Wound Assessment with Machine Learning”
  • Jeremy Evans – Best in the Show.
    ”Clean Water Access in Poor Countries”
  • Andrew Pitayanukul – Best Poster
    “Assessing the rate of drug and vaccine particle dissolution by acoustic scattering following transdermal delivery”
  • Ian Ashcroft – Best Hardware
    “Designing and Characterising a Double-Acting Hydraulic Ram Pump”
  • Mark Baker – Best Commercial Awareness
    “TBLOCKER: a new tool for advanced CFD meshing”
  • Oliver Cohen – Commended
    “Switching and Sequential Colour for High-Speed Bend-State Liquid Crystal Displays”
  • Sanaya Kerawala – Commended
    “Hysteretic Model for Steel Energy Dissipation Devices”
  • Joshua McFarlane – Commended
    “Automatic Generation of Time-Lapse Videos”

Laing O'Rourke 2011 prizewinnerEmma Hale (Laing O’Rourke prize winner) and Dr Dheeraj Bhardwaj (Laing O’Rourke)

With special thanks to the following sponsors for donating prizes: Laing O’Rourke, Sony BPRL, Ricardo and GlaxoSmithKline, and to all judges and 4th Year undergraduates who took part.