Rehan O'Grady

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I am a Post-doctoral researcher at IRIDIA, Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium under the supervision of professor Marco Dorigo. I defended my PhD thesis in October 2010.

My research deals with how to make small, simple robots do big, clever things. Imagine creating an artificial swarm of ants instead of an artificial human being. An ant is a lot simpler to build than a human. But ants can still do some pretty amazing things --- think of an ant's nest that is orders of magnitude larger than a single ant and whose construction lasts many ant lifetimes. Complexity and intelligence in both natural and artificial (robotic) swarm systems arise from interactions --- interactions of the individual agents with each other and interactions of the agents with their environment. My job as a swarm intelligence researcher is to try and think like an ant (or at least like a small, dumb robot), and figure out the rules of interaction that will let simple robots carry out complex tasks.


I graduated with first class honours from Edinburgh university in 1999, and received the Kevin Clarke Memorial prize (awarded each year to the top graduate in Mathematics and Computer science). I subsequently worked for several years in software development. Whilst at Micromuse PLC in London (since purchased by IBM) my software design to detect network outages was awarded a US patent. I gave customer presentations all over the United Kingdom and the United States, and as far afield as Beijing (to the Bank of China). I subsequently worked as a business consultant in Bombay for six months. My job was to help a large British insurance company transfer high level work to India. I gained experience of management and project management, and perhaps more importantly fulfilled my life long desire to live in India.


My leisure activities are largely sports focused - I play squash in division one of the Belgian national league, and 11-aside football in an amateur league in Brussels. I speak English, French, German, Italian and Sinhalese (I have an Italian wife, a mother from Sri Lanka and have lived and worked in France and Germany).

Last update: March 2011