The performance of absolute distance measuring systems has been improved
in terms of accuracy, traceability, reliability and cost through the
introduction of new methodology arising from research at the University of
Oxford. This has brought commercial benefit to a German company making
measurement systems, through the creation of a new product line. New
capabilities for measurement have been delivered to a first customer in
Germany. The research has also resulted in the establishment of new
activity at the National Physical Laboratory, and influenced UK and
European technology roadmaps for future manufacturing.
The Beazley Archive Online Database enables large and diverse audiences to access and
understand ancient art through Oxford research. It allows users around the world to ask and
answer their own research questions and to learn about ancient imagery. It is principally dedicated
to the study of ancient Athenian figure-decorated pottery and ancient/neo-classical engraved
gems. It makes available hundreds of thousands of pictures and information-fields which can be
browsed and searched in a variety of ways, according to the level and requirements of the user.
The Database is the foremost academic tool for the study of ancient Greek pottery, but its
demonstrable impact extends far beyond academia, to an international audience of students,
educators, museums, businesses, and private researchers.
OxCal is the most popular software package world-wide for calibrating and
analysing dates within the carbon dating process, enabling the accurate
dating of objects from the past. The brainchild of Prof. Christopher Bronk
Ramsey, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), OxCal
is based on chronologies refined by the use of Bayesian statistical
methods, and provides users with access to high-quality calibration of
chronological data, now the basis for global chronologies. It is available
online and free to download, and has played a highly significant role in
establishing the ORAU as one of the pre-eminent international radiocarbon
dating facilities. Funded by the NERC, and used widely within professional
archaeology as well as other disciplines, OxCal has also played a key role
in research projects (within Oxford and beyond) brought to the attention
of the general public by the media.
Research in Multi-spectral Imaging (MSI) of manuscripts by researchers in
the University of Oxford's Faculty of Classics has led to advances in
imaging technology. A series of initiatives by Dr Dirk Obbink that
captured images through MSI technology have led to the decipherment of new
texts that have made a substantial mark in the public sector. Equity
spinout of this technology has resulted in the entry in the market of the
first portable multispectral scanning unit in flat-bed desktop format. The
scanner, which uses innovative patented LED technology at different levels
of the light spectrum, was developed under funding from ISIS, Oxford
University's technology transfer division.
Karl Gerth's work on the role of Chinese consumers in the global economy,
and on ways in which Chinese consumerism may create more environmental and
policy problems than it solves, has had a significant influence on
business leaders seeking to position themselves in the Chinese market, as
well as on public discourse around the `rise of China'. Gerth has extended
the range and quality of the evidence on the interconnected and
wide-ranging ramifications of the shift within China toward a market
economy over the past thirty years, and has improved understanding of this
phenomenon in ways which have enabled British business to compete more
effectively in China.
The largest investment banks in London each have thousands of servers
largely devoted to Monte Carlo simulations, and to quantify their risks
and satisfy regulatory demands they need to be able to calculate huge
numbers of sensitivities (defined below) known collectively as "Greeks".
An adjoint technique developed by Professor Mike Giles in 2006 greatly
reduced the computational complexity of these calculations. The technique
is used extensively by Credit Suisse and other major banks, reducing their
computing costs and energy consumption. It has also led to the Numerical
Algorithms Group developing new software to support the banks in
exploiting this new adjoint approach to computing sensitivities.
In 2010, the new Conservative government established the Office for
Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) to provide independent and authoritative
analysis of the UK's public finances. The economic case for an independent
body to monitor fiscal policy was based on research by Professor Simon
Wren-Lewis and his co-authors into fiscal policy rules and optimal debt
policy. This research has provided important inputs to policymakers'
thinking about fiscal councils, both in the UK and overseas. Work by
Professor Wren-Lewis has strongly influenced and shaped the design and
subsequent development of the UK's Office for Budgetary Responsibility.
John Blair's research on the history and archaeology of early medieval
England has had a major impact on central and local planning policy. It
has made several significant contributions to current practice as regards
historic landscapes and building preservation (especially churches), and
it is at the heart of the on-going debate about future policy reform. His
publications are read and used by planning officers, policy makers, and by
the general public — who have also come to know of his work through
Channel Four's Time Team. Blair's research demonstrates the
influence that academic history and archaeology of the highest scholarly
standards can have on planners, policy makers, commercial archaeologists,
and conservationists. Its public benefits include improved understanding,
cultural enrichment, and conservation policies which are more sensitive to
the heritage embedded in landscapes.
In 2003, Professor Nick Bostrom published a ground-breaking article
entitled `Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?', in which he advanced
arguments to suggest that it is more than just a sceptical hypothesis that
we might be living in a computer simulation, it is almost certainly the
case. This article generated considerable interest, both within the
philosophical study and beyond it. It inspired: a popular `wiki site'
devoted to the idea; a highly acclaimed play World of Wires
(winner of the 2012 Obie Award for Best Direction), which ran in New York
and Paris in January and November 2012 respectively; a very successful
novel Bedlam, published early in 2013; and another novel The
Simulator, published in July 2013.
Since its launch in 2009, the mobile phone package price comparison tool
Billmonitor has identified £35 million worth of savings available
to the 110,000 users whose bills have been analysed. It was the first
price comparison tool to be accredited by Ofcom and it has been widely
praised in the media. Exploiting techniques that they had developed for
applications in finance and genetics, University of Oxford researchers
Chris Holmes and Nicolai Meinshausen developed the statistical algorithms
underpinning the package, which uses simulation-based inference and
careful statistical modelling to analyse users' phone bill data. It
searches over 2.4 million available packages to identify the best mobile
phone deal for each user's particular pattern of usage. Widely quoted in
the press, reports in 2011 and 2012 from the Billmonitor team
estimated that approximately three quarters of mobile phone customers are
on the wrong tariff, with an overspend of around 40%.