Neil Smith's Homepage

The Open University

Maths & Computing Faculty

Computing Department website


What's New

3 July 2006 Added some Windows executables to the M801 Pousse project page
15 June 2006 Added some bits and pieces for students doing the M801 Pousse project
12 January 2006 Added some software evolution simulation models. General tidy up



There are two main strands to my research. One is into the interpretation of imprecise diagrams. The other is into the nature of software evolution.

Many diagrams (such as UML class diagrams or sketch maps) are used to communicate something between people. Many of these diagrams also have formal rules of syntax. Unfortunately, when people draw these diagrams, they get the syntax wrong (we term these imprecise diagrams). Despite these errors, viewers of the diagrams are, more often than not, able to extract the intended meaning from the diagram. This is analogous to text, where people are generally able to make sense of ungrammatical sentences.

Our research in this is concerned with ways of automatically finding the meaningful sub-parts of the diagram, inferring their meaning (perhaps in the face of imprecision), and then combining these meanings to find the meaning of the diagram oveall.

I'm doing this with Pete Thomas and Kevin Waugh.

Moving on to software evolution, we are interested in how large software systems change over extended periods of time. Some of this work has used qualitative simulation techniques to look at the abstract behaviour of systems. We've also looked at agent-based models to simulate the growth of open-source systems.

I'm doing this work with Juan Ramil. We have some of our simulations available for download.

My publications are available online.



I'm involved in preparing and maintaining various database courses, such as M358 (Relational Databases).


Other Interests

I am a bit of a Prolog hacker in my spare time. I've put a few bits and pieces on my Prolog page, including a Lisp interpreter and compiler.



This is just somewhere to put all the various bits and pieces that don't fit anywhere else, but which might be useful to someone.

  • Are you a Windows user that is fed up with not being able to use all the mathematical symbols you want, including a proper "less than or equal to" sign? neil.ttf is a TrueType font I've developed that includes all the symbols I've ever needed. If you come across a symbol I haven't included, let me know.


Contact Details

Snail mail:
Dr Neil Smith
Computing Department
Faculty of Mathematics and Computing
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
Room 322, Maths Building
+44 1908 654101 (Direct)
+44 1908 858462 (Merisa Hooton, Secretary)
+44 1908 652140

I have a PGP Public Key

This page maintained by Neil Smith (