In 1969, the team that developed the ATM at IBM Hursley (UK) used parts from that project to build an IBM School Computer, as a community outreach project, and it toured the region. When it came to James Davenport’s school, he (at age 16) discovered that, although it was ostensibly a six-digit computer, the microcode had access to a 12-digit internal register to do multiply/divide. He therefore used this to implement Draim's algorithm from his father's book, The Higher Arithmetic, and was testing eight-digit numbers for primality until the teacher’s patience wore out.

This is typical of Davenport’s lifelong interests: pushing computers to their limits to do mathematical computations. He worked in a government laboratory for nine months, again writing and using multiword arithmetic, but also using his knowledge of number theory to solve a problem in hashing, which earned him his first published paper at 18. He went to Cambridge University (Bachelor’s in 1974, Master’s in 1978, and PhD in 1980), to IBM Yorktown Heights for a year, back to Cambridge as a Research Fellow, to Grenoble for a year, which significantly improved his French, as well as his cooking, before going to the relatively new University of Bath “for a couple of years" in 1983. He is still there, though he has also spent time researching and teaching in many other countries. In 1986 in France, he finished his textbook Calcul Formel with Grenoble colleagues, which his mother translated into English as Computer Algebra.

Computer algebra remains his main research interest: as he says, “You don't really understand a subject until you can program a computer do to it, and that goes for mathematics at least as much as anything else.” He is finishing a new textbook on the subject, and has also edited four volumes of conference proceedings on the subject, as well as writing over 100 refereed papers. He has also produced four new editions of The Higher Arithmetic. He is active in the UK's professional world as a vice-president of the British Computer Society, the representative of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications on the London Mathematical Society’s Computer Science Committee, and a member of the Outer Circle of the National Advisory Committee on [School] Mathematics Education. In 2014, he was one of only two computer scientists chosen among the 55 national teaching fellows (and Tom Crick, the other one, had studied at Bath). Internationally, he is on the Committee for Electronic Information and Communication of the International Mathematical Union, and just moderated the panel on mathematical MOOCs at the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians.

Is he a mathematician or a computer scientist? “Yes, and if that were a conjunction rather than a disjunction, I would still say yes. What attracted me to Bath was that mathematics and computer science were one department, and when colleagues felt that growth made a split necessary, I was made a member of both departments.”

What attracts him most to Computing Reviews is the ability to read books and papers he would not otherwise read. “We examine PhD students, not just on their thesis, but also on the broader area. How do we professors keep up ourselves? Reviewing for Computing Reviews is my way.”

Algorithms for big data Bast H., Korzen C., Meyer U., Penschuck M., Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, 2023. 299 pp. Type: Book (3031215338) This book is an output from the German Research Foundation’s priority programme SPP 1736 on “Algorithms for Big Data.” SPP 1736 funded 15 projects, and a few projects with their own funding were also associated with the programme...

Feb 7 2024

European Language Grid: a language technology platform for multilingual Europe Rehm G., Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland, 2022. 390 pp. Type: Book (3031172574) This edited book is an outcome of the European Language Grid (ELG), a European Union (EU)-funded project that formally ran from January 2019 to June 2022 (but note the platform was updated the month this review was written, so the project certainl...

Jun 14 2023

Digital image forensics: theory and implementation Roy A., Dixit R., Naskar R., Chakraborty R., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2020. 89 pp. Type: Book The introduction promises a great deal for an 89-page volume: the text “investigate[s] which device (or class of device) captured or formed the image” with “several state-of-the-art techniques ... reviewed...

Sep 14 2021

Computer security and the Internet van Oorschot P., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2020. 387 pp. Type: Book (978-3-030336-48-6), Reviews: (2 of 2) Paul C. van Oorschot is a master who has made many diverse contributions to computer system security (very much including systems connected by the Internet), from applied cryptography to system usability. This range is a strength of th...

Jan 6 2021

AndroZoo: collecting millions of Android apps for the research community Allix K., Bissyandé T., Klein J., Le Traon Y. MSR 2016 (Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Mining Software Repositories, Austin, Texas, May 14-22, 2016) 468-471, 2016. Type: Proceedings This is basically a data collection paper. How did the authors collect more than three million free Android apps (more than 20 terabytes)? The answer: it’s somewhat more delicate than one might have thought. In particular, on...

Aug 5 2020

A survey on artifacts from CoNEXT, ICN, IMC, and SIGCOMM conferences in 2017 Flittner M., Mahfoudi M., Saucez D., Wählisch M., Iannone L., Bajpai V., Afanasyev A. ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review 48(1): 75-80, 2018. Type: Article This paper does precisely what the title says. It is an attempt to survey the current state of reproducibility in computer networking research. This is one of the more challenging areas of computing for reproducibility, in that more sp...

Nov 18 2019

Analysis for computer scientists: foundations, methods, and algorithms (2nd ed.) Oberguggenberger M., Ostermann A., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2018. 392 pp. Type: Book (978-3-319911-54-0) In the title, “analysis” means “mathematical analysis” in the sense of Cauchy and Weierstrass, for example, ε-δ analysis. Chapters 1 through 4 are basically calculus (including ...

Oct 14 2019

Millions, billions, zillions: defending yourself in a world of too many numbers Kernighan B., PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, Princeton, NJ, 2018. 176 pp. Type: Book (978-0-691182-77-3) This book is simultaneously entertaining, instructive (one might say educational), and worrying. After an (important) opening chapter, the author analyzes a statement from Newsweek that the US should tap into the Strategic Petro...

Jun 4 2019

An autotuning protocol to rapidly build autotuners Liu J., Tan G., Luo Y., Li J., Mo Z., Sun N. ACM Transactions on Parallel Computing 5(2): 1-25, 2018. Type: Article While autotuning has become a valuable tool for the high-performance computing (HPC) community to achieve “performance portability,” that is, the program runs on the new architecture correctly and with the expected ...

Mar 7 2019

OWL reasoning: subsumption test hardness and modularity Matentzoglu N., Parsia B., Sattler U. Journal of Automated Reasoning 60(4): 385-419, 2018. Type: Article This paper is aimed at web ontology language (OWL) authors and tool developers. These people know that SROIQ(D), the logic that underpins OWL, has a high worst-case complexity (N2Exptime), and that this shows up in s...