Computing & Information Sciences, Strathclyde
Tenure since 2015
General Video Game Playing using Learning, Search and Ensemble Decision Making
The research which Damien is conducting centres on an area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) known as General Video Game Playing. Advancements in AI have primarily focused on solving specific problems, such as building the ultimate chess playing robot or beating the world record for score at Pacman. General Video Game Playing expands on this to develop AI agents which can solve a general variety of problems, particularly without any prior knowledge or domain expertise.
The majority of approaches in this area have used search based algorithms, which scan the environment and are able to determine positive actions from negative actions. Unfortunately this can take a significant amount of time and memory and in practice, the range of such algorithms is quite short and unsuitable for long range problem solving, such as retrieving a key to unlock a door.
The approach that he is developing will take these algorithms and couple them with learning components within an ensemble decision system, to try and build an agent which is able to respond to events in real-time (Such as a hazard suddenly appearing in its path) as well as being able to generate long range plans which it can follow for further rewards.
Damien was awarded a first class degree BSc in Software Engineering from the University of Strathclyde. He was also awarded the Charles Babbage award for creating the best final year project, which also earned him 3rd place at the annual ScotlandIS Young Software Engineer of the Year awards.
Damien started his journey into further education after working for several years at a local call centre. Entering college as a mature student and finishing with top marks and a HND from the City of Glasgow College, as well as receiving the Student Body award for Excellent Citizenship.
Damien then joined the University of Strathclyde as a direct entrant into the second year of the course and was placed onto the dean's list on his 2nd and 3rd years. When he had to choose an organisation to work for as part of a year long industrial placement, he was selected by the prestigious CERN institution and spent 14 months working with them developing machine protection software for the Large Hadron Collider.
During his time at CERN, Damien was also involved in authoring several papers about the techniques and methods used to design and improve the software used for ensuring the quality of tests performed on particle accelerators. (Anderson, D., Audrain, M., Fuchsberger, K., Garnier, J.C., Gorbonosov, R., Gorzawski, A.A., Jalal, A., Moscatelli, A., Turcu, P.C., Stamos, K. and Zerlauth, M., 2013. The AccTesting Framework: An Extensible Framework for Accelerator Commissioning and Systematic Testing. THPPC071, proc. of ICALEPCS.)
Damien was the recipient of the Robertson Medal for academic year 2015-16.