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Dave Cliff (academic)[edit]

Dave Cliff

Dave Cliff (born 1966) is currently (2011) a professor atBristol University and Director of the LSCITS (Large Scale Complex IT Systems) Initiative. Cliff is well known in his field as the inventor of the seminal "ZIP" trading algorithm, one of the first of the current generation of autonomous adaptive algorithmic trading systems (open-sourced in 1997. Cliff has given well over 100 invited keynote lectures and seminars; and he and his work have frequently been featured both in the press and on TV and radio: Cliff's work has been the topic of articles in the New Scientist magazine, The Financial Times (London) newspaper, and The Economist magazine (and many other publications), and he has been interviewed live on BBC TV News and Radio programmes.

Dave Cliff served as one of the eight experts on the Lead Expert Group (LEG)[1] for the UK Government Office for Science Foresight investigation into the future of computer trading in the financial markets[2], 2010-2012. Other members of the LEG include Dame Clara Furse [Clara_furse|], Prof. Charles Goodhart [3], and Andy Haldane [4].

Personal Life[edit]

Dave Cliff was born in April 1966. He lives in Bristol with his partner, one son, one daughter and a dog. Dave enjoys mountaineering, he is also a keen runner and is often running marathons around/up/down mountains.


Cliff has a bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Leeds, and masters and PhD degrees in Cognitive Science from the University of Sussex.

Areas of Research[edit]

  • Algorithmic Trading
  • Advisor
  • Inventor

Academic Career[edit]

Cliff spent the first seven years of his career working as an academic, initially at the University of Sussex UK and latterly as an associate professor in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, Cambridge USA. Cliff's early research was in computational neuroscience/neuroethology studying visual control of gaze and flight in airborne insects; in using artificial evolution to automate the design of autonomous mobile robots; and in studying the coadaptive dynamics of competitive co-evolutionary arms-races (e.g. between species of predator and prey).

In 1996, while working as a consultant for Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Cliff invented the seminal "ZIP" trading algorithm, one of the first of the current generation of autonomous adaptive algorithmic trading systems (open-sourced in 1997). In 1998 he resigned his post at MIT to take up a job as a senior research scientist at the HP Labs European Research Centre in Bristol, UK, where he founded and led HP's Complex Adaptive Systems research group, later being promoted to role of Department Scientist. In summer 2001, a team of researchers at IBM's Research Labs tested Cliff's ZIP and IBM's own "MGD" algorithms against human traders, under controlled experimental conditions. The human traders were consistently beaten by both MGD and ZIP, with the scores of ZIP and MGD being pretty much equal. This result led to international press coverage and significant attention from finance professionals. Later in 2001, Cliff published the first results showing that computers could automate not only the trading process, but also the process of designing and/or fine-tuning the trading algorithms along with the market mechanisms (such as those provided by exchange operators) within which the traders interact. Following a positive article on Cliff's work in The Economist news magazine in November 2002, Dave spent two hectic years working with HP's consulting wing and a number of tier-one financial institutions (exchange operators and investment banks) to develop this research into real applications.

In early 2005, Cliff moved to Deutsche Bank's Foreign Exchange trading floor in London, where he worked as a director in Deutsche's FX Complex Risk Group. In late 2005, Cliff resigned from Deutsche to co-found Syritta Algorithmics Ltd, a privately-owned trading-technology development and consultancy company, and to serve as a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, one of the UK's top centres for computer science research. In October 2005 Cliff was appointed Director of a national research consortium, addressing issues in the science and engineering of Large-Scale Complex IT Systems [5]LSCITS: this is a £14m ($28m) research project involving approx. 250 person-years of effort over the five years 2007-2012. In July 2007, Cliff moved to become Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bristol, one of the UK's top-ten computer science departments.

Cliff is the inventor or co-inventor on 15 patents, and is inventor or co-inventor on numerous further patent applications currently under review at patent offices in the US, UK, and Europe. He has undertaken advisory and consultancy work for a number of major companies in media, finance, and IT, and also for the UK Government.


Cliff is author or co-author on over 70 academic journal or conference publications. Here are links to some of his most popular:

D. Cliff (1990) "Computational Neuroethology: A Provisional Manifesto", in J.-A. Meyer and S. W. Wilson, editors: From Animals to Animats: Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Simulation of Adaptive Behaviour (SAB90). MIT Press Bradford Books, 1991, pp.29-39.;jsessionid=651B13A99878A9D5DD9E3CE5EBD49042?doi=

D. Cliff (1997) "Minimal-Intelligence Agents for Bargaining Behaviors in Market-Based Environments", Hewlett-Packard Laboratories Technical Report HPL-97-91.

D. Cliff (2009) " ZIP60: Further Explorations in the Evolutionary Design of Trader Agents and Online Auction-Market Mechanisms", IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation. 13(1):3-18.

D. Cliff and L. Northrop, (2011) "The Global Financial Markets: An Ultra-Large Scale Systems Perspective", Briefing paper for UK Government Office for Science Foresight project on The Future of Computer Trading in the Financial Markets (September 2011).

A full list of his publications can be accessed via the LSCITS homepage .

External Links[edit]

  • University of Bristol homepage [6]
  • List of publications [7]