I started learning to program computers when I was just 3 (although my programs at the time were mainly copied out of books!), which I used to do on a BBC Micro computer. I loved the BBC Micro system, and I still have a emulated copy on which I can play Podd and Monsters when I get nostalgic! I later moved on to using Visual Basic on a Windows 3.11 machine, but it was really once I entered secondary school that I started developing my skills in earnest.
I took part in the British Informatics Olympiad every year, which was immensely enjoyable and rewarding, as the problems they gave often required us to do a little maths before we would be able to write an efficient program to solve them. Twice I made it to the top 15 students nationally.
I used to have a lot of fun programming in school, as I had a group of friends who enjoyed writing software to interfere with the school network (perhaps I shouldn't say any more here!)—though we didn't break any school rules! I worked at the company Redgate in Cambridge during the summer holiday after my third year in Cambridge, where I helped to make a new 404 page with a zombie-kitten game on it (sadly, this has now been removed from the website)—a week well spent! Over the years I have spent a lot of time developing many utilities. During my Ph.D., I wrote a library of functions in C# to allow the simulation of quantum computers (of course, only small quantum computers!). More recently, I have been working on a mobile app, written in C# using the Unity framework.
In time, I will start to post small utilities that I have written on this website.
I've been learning music since I was very young. I started with the Keyboard, performing in my first concert at the age of three! Soon after, I progressed to learning Piano, Violin and Recorder. When I was ten, I took up the French Horn, which is now my main instrument. I love learning new instruments, and have spent some time playing guitar, ukulele, trumpet, theremin and even a Peruvian flute!
I was a member of the National Children's Orchestra (of Great Britain) for three years, and I thoroughly loved every minute of it! NCO certainly is responsible for a lot of my current passion for music.
While I perform in many orchestras, concerts and productions in and around Cambridge, my main orchestra is the Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra (CUSO). I've been in CUSO since 2008, and have held the positions of Publicity Officer (2011–2013), President (2013–2015), Webmaster (2013–present) and Junior Treasurer (2014–2017). In 2015, I was even able to organise CUSO's 25th Anniversary concert, a resounding success, in which we performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
I'm a keen composer, having written and performed many of my own works. I love writing out music from various films and TV shows, some of which is on the Sheet Music page.
Maths & Science
As a kid, I always loved taking things apart to see how they worked. One thing that particularly fascinated me was a buzzer—I found how it produced a sound absolutely ingenious! This led to a love of engineering, physics and other sciences. When I was 11, and just coming to the end of primary school, I was shown my first mathematical proof by my maths teacher at the time. It was a geometrical argument to show a result known as Apollonius' theorem. I found it incredible that such simple ideas could be logically structured in such a way to build up such complex statements. From then on, I had a strong passion for mathematics, driven by this wonderful idea of mathematical proof.
I used to participate in the UK Mathematical Challenges and Olympiads that took place annually, and when I was 16 I made it through the British Mathematical Olympiad to become one of the top eight students nationally. That year I was a reserve for the UK Maths Squad in the International Mathematical Olympiad.
When I was 18, I applied to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read Mathematics, and started my studies there in 2008. I remember that I was taken aback by the sheer volume of maths I suddenly became aware of—when I was doing my A Levels, I had trouble imagining how much other maths there could be—and loved the variety of ideas that we were exposed to, even back in that first year. During my undergraduate years, my tendency towards science and physics began to resurface, and I chose to study the more 'applied' courses, which resulted in me taking almost everything 'quantum' in my fourth year.
I developed a strong interest in Quantum Computation, as it was an area that somehow mixed Maths, Physics and Computing in a very interesting way. In 2012 I started my Ph.D. in Quantum Computation under the supervision of Professor Richard Jozsa, looking in particular at the computational complexity of quantum algorithms. I recently submitted my thesis, and am waiting to have my viva voce examination.
Back in 2016, my partner, who was vegetarian at the time, mentioned to me that she'd heard that male chicks are killed in the egg industry. Why? Because they're a byproduct. Only hens lay eggs.
We both began to read up more about this practice, finding that these chicks are macerated alive or gassed when only 15 minutes old, barely long enough to glimpse a world they'll never see. The sheer number of animals this happens to left us gaping. So we began to buy higher and higher welfare eggs from companies like Clarence Court. But these companies' websites didn't say anything about male chicks—they all focussed on the welfare of their hens. So I began to e-mail them. I received responses like this (19/05/2016):
I would like to confirm that Clarence Court follows standards laid down by RSPCA Freedom Food, British Egg Industry Council Lion scheme and the Humane Slaughter Association to bring Clarence Court eggs to the market.
We purchase our female chicks at day olds so have nothing to do with the male chicks but we are actively involved with our hen breeder looking at both ‘dual purpose chickens’ and ‘in ova sexing of hatching eggs’ to proactively find solutions to male chicks.
Not very encouraging. We all know what that first sentence really means.
For places that prided themselves on the welfare of their animals, they could say shockingly little about the welfare of male chicks.
It was at this point we realised that the only way of commercially producing eggs involves the mass murder of countless male chicks. Organic, free-range, you name it. We decided to stop eating eggs until we could find something better.
This left me determined to find out everything I could about the dairy, egg, meat and other animal-based industries, and I was consistently shocked by everything I came across. The leather industry, the wool industry, the honey industry, and so on. I wasn't going to be a part of it any more. That decision made me happy.
I watched a speech given by Gary Yourofsky, a vegan activist. This was a breath of fresh air. Everything he said made complete sense, and yet it had eluded me for so long. I would encourage every single person to watch that speech.