skip to content

Department of Computer Science and Technology


The Wheeler Lectures are an annual series of distinguished lectures named after David Wheeler, one of the early pioneers of Computer Science. They usually take place in May. 

David worked on the original EDSAC computer and wrote one of the first computer programs to be stored in a computer’s working memory. He pioneered the use of sub-routines and is particularly remembered for his work on data compression.

David Wheeler was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1981, one of the earliest computer scientists to be so honoured. In October 2003, he was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum for his invention of the closed subroutine, his architectural contributions to the ILLIAC, the Cambridge Ring, and computer testing.

David started his PhD in the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory (then the Mathematical Laboratory) in the late 1940s, graduating in 1951. He then spent time at the University of Illinois before returning to the UK. He continued to work in the Computer Laboratory right up until his death, a decade after he had officially retired.

For further information about the Wheeler Lectures, please contact Ben Karniely.

2021 - Professor Daniela Rus: Reimagining Robots

The tenth annual Wheeler Lecture will be given by Professor Daniela Rus on Wednesday 12th May 2021. Daniela is Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. See the abstract here.

2020 - Dr Sophie Wilson: The Future of Microprocessors

The ninth annual Wheeler Lecture was on Wednesday 20th May 2020. The speaker was Dr Sophie Wilson, who designed the architecture behind the Acorn Microcomputer and the ARM processor. Abstract and further information.

2019 - Professor Jane Hillston: Combining formal methods and machine learning

The eighth annual Wheeler Lecture was on Wednesday 22nd May 2019. The speaker was Prof. Jane Hillston, speaking about combining machine learning techniques into a formal modelling framework. Abstract and further information

2018 – Professor Stephen Pulman: Language, learning, and creativity

The seventh annual wheeler lecture was given at the Computer Laboratory on Wednesday 30th May, 2018. The speaker was Prof. Stephen Pulman who spoke on the linguistic aspects of the Turing test, the creative aspect of language use, and the implications for machine learning. Abstract and futher information.

2017 – M. Angela Sasse: Can we make people value IT security?

The sixth annual Wheeler Lecture was given at the Computer Laboratory on Wednesday 24th May, 2017. The speaker was M. Angela Sasse who spoke on some of the usability considerations in designing security mechanisms. Abstract and futher information.

2016 – Andrew Herbert: A History of Virtualisation in Operating Systems.

The fifth annual Wheeler Lecture was given at the Computer Laboratory on Wednesday 25th May, 2016. The speaker was Andrew Herbert who gave an overview of virtualisation techniques in operating systems. The lecture was preceded by a series of ‘minute madness’ talks on current research themes. Abstract and further details.

2015 – Butler Lampson: Hints and Principles for Computer System Design

The fourth Wheeler Lecture was given at the Computer Laboratory on Tuesday 26th May, 2015. The speaker was Butler Lampson, Technical Fellow at Microsoft, and Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abstract and further details.

2014 – Jeannette M. Wing: Computational Thinking

The Computer Laboratory celebrated the 10th Anniversary of women@CL on Wednesday 14th May 2014, and the annual Wheeler Lecture was given on that day by Prof. Jeannette Wing. Abstract and further information.

2013 – Tony Hoare: Could Computers Understand Their Own Programs?

The Computer Laboratory celebrated its 75th anniversary on Wednesday 24th April, 2013. The annual Wheeler Lecture was given that day by Sir Tony Hoare. Abstract and further information.

2012 – Bjarne Stroustrup: C++11 Style

The first Wheeler Lecture was held at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory on Wednesday 15 February 2012, at 16:00. The speaker was Bjarne Stroustrup who talked on C++11 Style. Abstract and further details.