Impact UK Location: Yateley

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The Philosophy of Computer Programming and its Applications

Summary of the impact

Professor Peter Millican's research on the philosophy of computer programming, and in particular on issues that arise from the power of computation to mimic important intellectual feats, has had a variety of impacts. One of Professor Millican's interests has been stylometrics, and he has developed software which has been used to corroborate a controversial claim that a certain translation of Goethe's Faustus was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to cast doubt on a claim that Barack Obama's autobiography was ghost-written by Bill Ayers, and to help expose J.K. Rowling as the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, which she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Another interest is in teacher-friendly and learner-friendly computer programming, particularly their bearing on the Turing test, and this led to his being involved in consultations on Michael Gove's plans to develop the teaching of computer science in schools. His interest in the intersection of philosophy and computation also led to his pioneering the introduction of a new degree course in Oxford in Computation and Philosophy, which in turn inspired the introduction of a similar course in the University of York.

Submitting Institution

University of Oxford

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Information and Computing Sciences: Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Cognitive Sciences
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Philosophy

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