Peter Robinson (computer scientist)

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Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson (Computer Scientist) 2009.jpg
Peter Robinson
Born 1952
Residence Cambridge, England
Nationality British
Fields Computer Scientist
Institutions Cambridge University
Alma mater Cambridge University
Doctoral advisor Neil Wiseman
Doctoral students Stefan Hild
Rana el Kaliouby
Quentin Stafford-Fraser
Pierre Wellner
Known for video user interfaces
affective computing

Peter Robinson is Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory in England, where he works in the Rainbow Group on computer graphics and interaction. He is also a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College and lives in Cambridge.


Robinson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1974 and continued with a year of post-graduate study in Mathematics before joining the Computer Laboratory, where he was sponsored by the BBC to work on Graphic Design with Computers under Neil Wiseman and graduated PhD in 1979.[1]


Robinson worked on computer-aided design systems for integrated circuits in the 1980s, undertaking the physical design of the video processor for early BBC computers as a case study.[2] He continued with work on self-timed (asynchronous) circuits[3][4][5][6] and his students Paul Cunningham and Steev Wilcox started Azuro to exploit the ideas in designing low power integrated circuits.

The Rank Xerox Research Centre in Cambridge sponsored several of Robinson's research students in the 1990s to work on video cameras and projection as part of the user interface including Pierre Wellner's DigitalDesk, an early tabletop display featuring tangible interaction and augmented reality[7] and Quentin Stafford-Fraser's work leading to the webcam.[8] Further work investigated augmenting paper documents[9] and high-resolution interactive tabletop displays[10] leading to the commercial nuVa system developed by Thales.[11]

More recently, Robinson has led a team working on affective computing.[12] This has included inference of mental states from facial expressions[13][14] non-verbal speech[15] and gestures[16][17] together with the expression of emotions by robots and cartoon avatars.[18][19] His YouTube video on The emotional computer[20] has resulted in regular television and radio appearances[21][22][23][24] and his student Rana el Kaliouby founded Affectiva with Rosalind Picard to exploit the ideas commercially.[25]

Robinson has supervised over thirty research students for PhDs.[26]


  1. ^ Robinson, Peter (1979). Graphic Design with Computers (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ "Video processor for Acorn/BBC computer". BBC. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Rapid prototyping of self-timed circuits" (PDF). IEEE International Conference on Computer Design. 1998. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Wilcox, Steev (1999). Synthesis of asynchronous circuits (Thesis). 
  5. ^ "An on-chip dynamically recalibrated delay line for embedded self-timed systems". IEEE ASYNC Symposium. 2000. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Cunningham, Paul (2004). Verification of asynchronous circuits (Thesis). 
  7. ^ Wellner, Pierre (1994). Interacting with paper on the DigitalDesk (Thesis). 
  8. ^ Stafford-Fraser, Quentin (1997). Video-augmented environments (Thesis). 
  9. ^ "Digital manuscripts and electronic publishing". Editio 13. Max Niemeyer Verlag: 337–346. Autumn 1999. ISBN 3-484-29513-9. 
  10. ^ "Territorial coordination and workspace awareness in remote tabletop collaboration". ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems. April 2009. 
  11. ^ "A method and system for providing a collaborative working environment" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "Emotionally intelligent interfaces". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  13. ^ el Kaliouby, Rana (2005). Mind-reading machines (Thesis). 
  14. ^ "Mind-reading machines". 2006. 
  15. ^ Sobol-Shikler, Tal (2007). Analysis of affective expression in speech (Thesis). 
  16. ^ "Interactive control of music using emotional body expressions". 2008. 
  17. ^ Bernhardt, Daniel (2009). Emotion inference from human body motion (Thesis). 
  18. ^ Riek, Laurel (2011). Expression synthesis on robots (Thesis). 
  19. ^ "Robot head is star of the show". 2012. 
  20. ^ "The emotional computer". 2010. 
  21. ^ "BBC news report". 2008. 
  22. ^ "Researchers look to Darwin for emotional link between man and machine". 2011. 
  23. ^ "BBC Click programme on Robots for humans". 2013. 
  24. ^ "Dara Briain's Science Club". 2013. 
  25. ^ "Rana el Kaliouby's home page at the MIT Media Lab". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  26. ^ "Research students". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

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