Norman Fenton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Norman Fenton
Norman cc.jpg
Born (1956-05-18) 18 May 1956 (age 63)
ResidenceLondon, England, UK
Scientific career

Professor Norman Fenton (born 18 May 1956) is a British mathematician who is currently Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary University of London and is also a director of Agena, a company that specialises in risk management for critical systems.


Fenton was a student at Ilford County High School for Boys (1967–1974) and studied mathematics at the London School of Economics (1975–78) gaining a first class Bachelor of Science degree and also winning the ‘School Scholar’ prize in 1976 and 1977. He gained his Master of Science at the University of Sheffield (1978) winning the “ATM Flett Prize”, and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield (1981) under the supervision of Peter Vamos. His thesis was on “Representations of Matroids”. In 2007–2008 Fenton completed a course in expert witness training with Bond Solon under the auspices of Cardiff University Law Dept.


Between leaving school and going to university, Fenton worked for Hedge and Butler Wine Merchants (1974–1975) and also worked there in subsequent summers (1976 and 1977). After his PhD in 1981, Fenton joined University College Dublin (Mathematics Department) as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow. From 1982 to 1984 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Oxford University (Mathematics Institute), and also member of Wolfson College. In 1984 he joined South Bank University (Dept Electrical & Electronic Eng) first as senior lecturer and then reader. He set up and was director of the Centre for Software & Systems Engineering before leaving in 1989 to join City University (Centre for Software Reliability). In 1993 Fenton was appointed professor at City University (aged 34). In 1989 Fenton, along with Martin Neil and Ed Tranham, set up the company Agena Ltd in Cambridge. Fenton was CEO between 1998 and 2015 and remains a director. In 2000 Fenton joined Queen Mary University of London (School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science) as professor (part-time) and he has been there since. He is director of the Risk and Information Management Research Group.[1] In 2015 Fenton formed a new company Aldgate Analytics Ltd where he is CEO.


Fenton currently works on quantitative risk assessment. This typically involves analysing and predicting the probabilities of unknown events using Bayesian statistical methods including especially causal, probabilistic models (Bayesian networks). This type of reasoning enables improved assessment by taking account of both statistical data and also expert judgment. In April 2014 Fenton was awarded one of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grants[2] to focus on these issues. Fenton's experience in risk assessment covers a wide range of application domains such as legal reasoning (he has been an expert witness in major criminal and civil cases), medical analytics,[3][4][5] vehicle reliability,[6] embedded software, transport systems, financial services, and football prediction.[7][8] Fenton has a special interest in raising public awareness of the importance of probability theory and Bayesian reasoning in everyday life (including how to present such reasoning in simple lay terms) and he maintains a website[9] dedicated to this and also a blog[10] focusing on probability and the law. In March 2015 Norman presented the BBC documentary Climate Change by Numbers.[11] Fenton has published 7 books and 230 referred articles and has provided consulting to many major companies worldwide. His 2012 book[12][13] was the first to bring Bayesian networks to a general audience. Fenton's current projects are focused on using Bayesian methods for improved legal reasoning and improved medical decision making. Since June 2011 he has led an international consortium (Bayes and the Law[14]) of statisticians, lawyers and forensic scientists working to improve the use of statistics in court. In 2016, he is leading a prestigious 6-month Programme[15] on Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge. In addition to his research on risk assessment, Fenton is renowned for his work in software engineering[16] (including pioneering work on software metrics); the third edition of his book “Software Metrics: A Rigorous and Practical Approach”[17] was published in November 2014. The book is one of the most cited in software engineering (5040 citations, Google Scholar, Feb 2016).


  • BBC Documentary "Climate Change by Numbers" (which Fenton co-presented, screened first 2 March 2015) won the following awards:
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Journalism Gold Award for "best in-depth TV reporting" 2015. details here.
    • European Science TV and New Media Award for the best Science programme on an environmental issue, 2015.
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Award (Queen Mary University of London)  2015
  • Lead Researcher in award of a Cambridge University Newton Institute Programme Semester (topic is Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science) to take place 18 July – 21 December 2016.
  • Awarded European Research Council Advanced Fellowship Grant (value 1,572,562 euros for a 4-year programme) 1 April 2014.
  • The Fenton and Neil paper "A critique of software defect prediction models" placed in top 1% most influential papers in its field based on number of citations (according to Essential Science Indicators).
  • International Patent (Publication Number WO 03/090466) for Improved TV Programme Selection (based on Bayesian Networks, Fuzzy Logic and an original approach to TV programme classification).
  • Named as one of the world's 15 top scholars (for the third time). Glass RL and Chen TY, "An assessment of Systems and Software Engineering scholars and institutions (1996-2000)", Journal of Systems and Software 59, 107–113, Oct 2001.
  • Appointed Professor at City University at the age of 34.
  • ATM Flett prize for MSc, 1979.
  • Top First Class Degree, University of London, 1978.
  • School Scholar at LSE 1976-78.
  • Winner of LSE Undergraduate Prize 1976, 1977.
  • Chartered Engineer, Member of the IET  (since 1987).
  • Chartered Mathematician, Fellow of the IMA (AFIMA 1988, FIMA 1998).
  • Fellow of the BCS (British Computer Society) since 2005.


  1. ^ London, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science | Queen Mary, University of. "Risk and Information Management (RIM) research group | School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science | Queen Mary, University of London". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  2. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  3. ^ Constantinou, A; Marsh, W.; Fenton, N.; Radlinski, L. (2016). "From complex questionnaire and interviewing data to intelligent Bayesian Network models for medical decision support". Artificial Intelligence in Medicine.
  4. ^ Constantinou, Anthony Costa; Yet, Barbaros; Fenton, Norman; Neil, Martin; Marsh, William (2016). "Value of Information analysis for interventional and counterfactual Bayesian networks in forensic medical sciences". Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. 66: 41–52. doi:10.1016/j.artmed.2015.09.002. PMID 26395654.
  5. ^ Constantinou, Anthony Costa; Freestone, Mark; Marsh, William; Fenton, Norman; Coid, Jeremy (2015-11-30). "Risk assessment and risk management of violent reoffending among prisoners". Expert Systems with Applications. 42 (21): 7511–7529. doi:10.1016/j.eswa.2015.05.025.
  6. ^ Neil, M; Fenton, N.; Forey, S.; Harris, R. (2003). "Assessing Vehicle Reliability using Bayesian Networks". Global Vehicle Reliability, Edited by J. E. Strutt and P.L. Hall. Professional Engineering Publishing.
  7. ^ Constantinou, A.; Fenton, N.; Neil, M. (2013). "Profiting from an inefficient Association Football gambling market: Prediction, Risk and Uncertainty using Bayesian networks". Knowledge-Based Systems. 50: 60–86. doi:10.1016/j.knosys.2013.05.008.
  8. ^ Constantinou, A.; Fenton, N.; Neil, M. (2012). "pi-football: A Bayesian network model for forecasting Association Football match outcomes". Knowledge-Based Systems. 36: 322–339. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.knosys.2012.07.008.
  9. ^ "Making sense of probability". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  10. ^ "Probability and Risk". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  11. ^ "Climate Change by Numbers - BBC Four". BBC. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  12. ^ "Probability Theory and Bayesian Belief Bayesian Networks". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  13. ^ Fenton, N.; Neil, M. (2012). Risk Assessment and Decision Analysis with Bayesian Networks. CRC Press. ISBN 9781439809105.
  14. ^ "Bayes and the Law". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  15. ^ "Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science | Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  16. ^ Fenton, N.; Neil, M. (1999). "A critique of software defect prediction models". IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.
  17. ^ Fenton, N.; Bieman, J. (2014). Software Metrics: A Rigorous and Practical Approach (3rd Edition). CRC Press. ISBN 9781439838228.