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Student story

Aaron Stockdill

20 July 2023

"There is so much left to create and discover..."


Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science

Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computer Science

PhD in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge

Research Fellow in Informatics at the University of Sussex



It is safe to say that Computer Science and Mathematics are Aaron's biggest passions. With a self-proclaimed love for learning, Aaron knew that he would go on to university study and that "it had to involve computers".

"I chose Computer Science initially because it was just plain fun, but I realised I had another motive: it enables me to make people's lives better. In my first year, I took a range of subjects, and quickly found that I just didn't want to give up Maths, either!"

Adding more to his skills through UC, then, has been a valuable experience.

"Everything is new and exciting! Computer Science is so young, there is so much left to create and discover. We haven't even begun to dream of what is possible - look how far we've come in 50 years, think what another 50 will reveal.

"Combine this with maths, a subject that, at first glance, looks unchanging, and you discover a beautiful harmony between the two subjects. Where once physics was the partner to maths, computer science now stands, pushing forward what we can discover in maths, particularly in the young fields like Linear Algebra and Graph Theory."

Aaron decided early on that UC was the best option for his learning.

"Canterbury was the logical choice as, not only was it close to home, it has some of the best Computer Science and Mathematics departments in the country! I love the environment that Canterbury can provide. Everyone is so passionate about what they do, and everyone wants to be here. It's fantastic! The lecturers clearly love what they do, and that excitement is apparent in the lessons. It is so much better to learn from someone who loves what they do, and it becomes hard to not love it as much as them."

His passion has reflected well on his grades with a number of well-earned scholarship awards. After enrolling with a UC Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship for good NCEA results, Aaron has since received a UC Computer Science High Achievers Award, the Graduating BSc Computer Science Student of the Year Award, the Allied Telesis Labs Scholarship in Computer Science, UC Mathematics and Statistics Scholarships for 200 and 300-level results, the Peter Byrant and Page Memorial Prizes in Mathematics, and was also awarded a University of Canterbury Senior Scholarship.

Aaron urges anyone to consider his field of study, including those with no experience but a keen interest.

"Technology and Maths have no limits on who can do them, and where they can go. Never programmed before? Give it a go! This is a growing industry, and any mathematically inclined programmers really are in huge demand. You can't go wrong with computer science!"

After leaving UC and closing down his start-up, Aaron went back to academia and was awarded the Hamilton Cambridge International Scholarship from the Cambridge Trust to complete his PhD at the University of Cambridge with his supervisor Prof. Mateja Jamnik in Artificial Intelligence. His dissertation title is “Automating representation change across domains for reasoning.” It was about how we as humans can find the same information easy or difficult to understand depending on how it's presented to us; it would be great if our technology knew this, and changed how it was communicating so that we could understand it better. For example, GPS navigation might say, “in 200m, head south”; alternatively, it might say “at the next set of lights, turn left” – same information, but which is easier for the driver?

Currently, he is working as a Research Fellow on a joint project between the University of Cambridge and the University of Sussex on human-like reasoning by AI, which is very similar to his PhD topic.

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