About David Cottingham

Updated 08/11/2010.

Summary

I am 30-something year old living near Cambridge, United Kingdom. Having grown up in southern Spain, I moved to the UK and studied Computer Science at the University of Cambridge, staying on to read for a Ph.D.. I married Elke, a Belgian GP, in 2007, and we continue to live near Cambridge. I now work for Citrix Systems R&D as Director of XenServer Product Management & Partner Engineering. In addition, I have been involved in several (minor) technology start-ups in the Cambridge area.

Early Years

I was born in Ipswich, UK, but when I was three years old we moved to the city of Malaga, in southern Spain. Southern Spain is pretty warm most of the year round, hence it was a shock after 14 years there when I returned to the land of "showers and sunny spells"! I attended Spanish primary school (CP Gandhi) for 7 years, then attended an English international school (Sunny View School), in Torremolinos, a town about 15 km from Malaga.

In 1998 I took my final GCSE exams. I then, in Year 12 (grade 11), took Spanish Literature 'A'-Level,(for anyone who says that it's easy having grown up in Spain, I pose the following question: If you're English, it doesn't mean you find English Literature GCSE easy, does it?). Year 13 (1999-2000) came, and I studied for the remainder of my 'A'-Levels: Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and A/S level French (the latter I studied only in Year 13). I took the final exams for my Spanish and half of my Maths 'A'-Level in June 1999, and the rest in June 2000.

Gap Year

From July 2000 I went on a gap year, working for British Energy at Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station as a Nuclear Engineering Industrial Placement Student. For those of you who are interested, it was (until recently, with the new reactor at Olkiluoto, Finland) the most advanced station in Europe, a Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR), generating about 1200 MW of electricity, (enough for about 1.5 million people). It's the safest one in Europe, and the first in the world to achieve two major types of environmental certification. My placement was conducted under the auspices of the Year In Industry scheme. For anyone wanting to do engineering or science at university, it's an excellent experience doing a real job, and getting paid for it, and hence I thoroughly recommend it. Through the year I studied for a NEBS Management qualification, which involved three residential weeks at Pershore College in Worcestershire. Looking at Pershore's web site, it appears that the business school there no longer exists: whilst the course content has proven somewhat useful over the years, the accommodation at the College was not great, and hence it's probably a good thing that the YiNI have stopped using it.

Undergraduate Degree

After a summer of mostly work (finished mid-August 2001), and a short break to Helsinki in September, I began studying at Churchill College, part of the University of Cambridge. In my first year I read Natural Sciences (Physical: Maths B, Physics B, Chemistry), and 25% Computer Science. In my second year of the Tripos (Part IB as it's known), I read purely Computer Science (I miss the physical sciences!), and was part of a group working on a Mobile Map Service project. This was a service that allowed users to input their location, then choose a destination or ask for the nearest service of a particular type (e.g. "What's the nearest Chinese restaurant within 5 miles?"). The server would then return a map with the route marked on it, with textual directions ("Go down King's Parade, turn left after 400 metres..." etc.). Additionally, the service was accessible from a WAP enabled mobile telephone, where the list of directions was returned. The entire system ran as a JAVA servlet under Apache Tomcat, and used XML to store the map data. The JDOM API was used to access the data, and XSL transforms produced the directions (in multiple languages) and the SVG image representation of the map and the route. Other group members were Garry McKay, Andrew Cenko, Bettina McNeil, Matt Amos, Phil Hewinson, and Tariq Khokhar. Of course now such things are common-place, what with Google Local and Latitude, but in 2003 it wasn't something that "everyone" was using!

In my third and final undergraduate year at Cambridge, I read for Part II of the Computer Science Tripos. My final year project was entitled "Collaborative Power Management in Wireless Mesh Networks", and concerned modifying the routing algorithms used in mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) to take into account the energy levels on each node. I modelled the entire protocol under the OPNET network simulator, which the Cambridge University Laboratory for Communications Engineering (now the Digital Technology Group) kindly allowed me to use. My project supervisor was Dr. John Fawcett. The final version of my dissertation can be found on my Publications page.

Ph.D. Studies

In October 2004 I began reading for a Ph.D. degree, as part of the Laboratory for Communication Engineering, which soon was renamed to the Digital Technology Group. My supervisor was Prof. Andy Hopper, who encouraged me to think less about ad hoc networks, and more about sentient computing applied to vehicles. In collaboration with Jonathan Davies and Brian Jones I was part of the Sentient Vehicles project, equipping a van with a wide variety of sensors and communications equipment. In addition, I worked on vertical handovers between different network technologies, the performance of IEEE 802.11 to vehicles, and on Mobile IP.

The work included in my dissertation concentrated on showing how variable the performance of wireless technologies to vehicles is, then using the large quantities of data collected by the Sentient Van (62 million data points over 3.5 years), to build up coverage maps of all the wireless networks available. This involved devising novel algorithms to process the data in order to provide a compact, yet accurate, representation. A mechanism for converting the coverage maps into a directed graph form (in conjunction with a graph of the road network) was presented. This graph was used to calculate the optimal sequence of networks a vehicle should connect to over the course of a journey, thus significantly improving network QoS. For further details, see my dissertation [PDF]Vehicular Wireless Communication (PDF 3.77 MB)

I submitted my dissertation on the 26th of September 2008, just under four years after beginning my Ph.D.. My viva voce examination was conducted by Dr. Kyle Jamieson and Prof. Jon Crowcroft on the 5th of December 2008, which I passed with minor corrections. I submitted these in late December, and finally graduated on the 21st of March 2009. The following month I also received my M.A. degree, conferred by right to all those who have achieved honours in their B.A. examinations, a set period of time after matriculation.

Activities at University

Whilst at Churchill College I worked for the Computer Office as a Computer Assistant for about a couple of hours a week, fixing other undergraduates' machines. I was also a member of the Churchill Christian Union (part of CICCU), and sang in the Chapel at Churchill choir. I also did some orienteering with the University Orienteering Club, CUOC, and played volleyball for the University Volleyball Club, CUVC (on the UCCM team). I also played for Churchill Volleyball Club's first team in the intercollegiate competitions for a number of years. In addition, during my second year, I went running for 60-90 minutes twice a week with a group of Computer Scientists/Natural Scientists/Mathematicians to keep fit (and to dispel the myth that scientists are inherently lazy!).

Committee Service

In my 7.5 years at the University of Cambridge I served on a wide variety of committees. In the Orienteering Club, I served as the technology advisor, then the "Icenian" Regional event organiser (2003 and 2004), and latterly as Secretary. At the University Volleyball Club, I was treasurer of a 15k budget for 2004 and 2005, as well as writing various important documents such as the health & safety policy and code of conduct. In 2001 I served on the Computer Science Staff Student Consultative Committee (SSCOM) at the Computer Laboratory, representing Part IA 25% Computer Science students' views. In 2002 I was elected to the Computer Science Syndicate (later the Faculty Board), and thus was co-opted to serve on the Cambridge University Students' Union Education Network Committee, and on the University Careers Syndicate. I then continued to serve on the latter committee as a "normal" undergraduate. At Churchill College, I was part of a Junior Common Room group examining catering services, then as a postgraduate was Middle Common Room Computer Officer, and thus also sat on the College's Information and Communication Technologies committee. Additionally, I was a member of the Combined Common Rooms Finance Committee, which allocated money to College clubs. At the Computer Laboratory I was re-elected to the Faculty Board in 2004, and also sat on the Health & Safety Committee for four years. In 2005 I was asked to form part of a group reviewing IT strategy at the Computer Laboratory, which wrote a final report recommending the formation of an IT Strategy Committee, on which I served until the end of 2008. In addition to these University committees, I have also served as a Technical Programme Committee member for several conferences, as listed on my Conference activities page.

Internships at Credit Suisse

During the summer of 2002, between my first and second years of University, I worked for Credit Suisse First Boston (now Credit Suisse) in Canary Wharf in London. CSFB are one of the world's top three investment banks, with about 26,000 employees worldwide. The 11 weeks I spent there were with the Network Engineering group, who are responsible for the company's internal networks in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Much of my time was spent learning about and maintaining network connections based on Cisco technology, both enterprise class switches and routers. I have to say that I enjoyed my time at CSFB very much -- they have a great working atmosphere and a real drive to get things done.

During the summer of 2003 I again worked at CSFB, this time in the Operational Improvement Programme group. This consisted of a very small (14 people, worldwide) team whose goal was to assess IT infrastructure in various ways to deliver increased reliability. I spent time with many different groups from around the company, learning about their systems, and writing reports on possible courses of action. Unlike my previous role, this was much more project management and risk assessment based, and consequently involved many more conference calls...! It was again very enjoyable, although commuting in and out of London each day has its bad points with the trains seemingly never working properly.

Family

My wife Elke, is a Belgian GP, who studied Medicine at K.U. Leuven in Belgium, before coming to the UK for her final year of registrar posts. Having finished her registrar year, she was offered a permanent position at Kimbolton Medical Centre, where she continued to practise until 2010. She then moved to Bottisham Medical Practice where she now works. We were married in 2007, and have since had the joy (and the sleepless nights!) of two children. Our joint site can be found at Elke and David's home page.

My parents are Peter & Jackie Cottingham, worked for Crosslinks (an Anglican missionary society), and latterly for other UK-based charities. My sister, Ruth, works as a chemical engineer specialising in water treatment, and is based in South Africa.

Company Activities

Whilst at secondary school I carried out various projects, including various pieces of web design for different organisations (most of whom have since, thank goodness, updated their sites!). At this time I traded under the name "Net Studios", but this was never incorporated. Having graduated from university, various friends and I decided to provide software consultancy services, and N-Sim Ltd. was born in 2005. In addition to being a director and the company secretary at N-Sim, I am director of my own personal holding company, and have also been Finance Director of Verieda an EDA tools company. For up to date details, see David Cottingham's LinkedIn profile, and [PDF]David Cottingham's Curriculum Vitae

Interests

I like sports, namely: orienteering, basketball, running, tennis, swimming, volleyball, badminton, kayaking, table football, and ping-pong. My hobbies are singing, photography (see David Cottingham on Flickr), stamp collecting (when I get round to it, which is practically never), reading, playing the keyboard (again, haven't done it for years), computers, and dabbling in graphic design. Subjects I am interested in (but know nothing about!) include networks (core routing, ad hoc networks, network and general security), Quantum Mechanics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (Mechanics). I am also one of those odd people who reads the Financial Times, mainly because it actually has news rather than sensationalism. I am a practicing Christian, and am interested in apologetics, internet evangelism, and reconciling Science and Religion. I attend Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge -- one which I would recommend as being straight talking and relevant, with a good mix of songs/hymns.

Miscellaneous

My family's name is shared with multiple people on the web, including a racing driver, an environmental official in the USA, and a town in Yorkshire. I'm not sure what this really tells you...!

For those who are interested in how this page has changed over the years, search for "http://www.davidnc.co.uk/" at the Web Archive. Note that the .co.uk domain name has long since ceased to be owned by me!