Professor John A Clark

Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder

Professor of Critical Systems
MA Maths (Oxon), MSc Applied Statistics (Oxon), PhD in Computer Science (York)
Head of Department (designate) – from October 2016
Department of Computer Science and YYCSA
University of York, Deramore Lane,
York, YO10 5GH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1904 325354 
Fax: +44 (0)1904 325599

Email: <>

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Dyke House Comprehensive School.

I did Mathematics and then an MSc in Applied Statistics at Oxford. I then joined the security division of the software and systems house Logica, working as a security and high integrity software evaluation consultant to HMG and then on a security ‘R & D’ thinktank for HMG. I joined York in 1992.

RESEARCH. I have been research active since around 1997 (with a few outputs before then). My personal and supervised research work concentrates on aspects of security and software engineering (with a particular interest in applying heuristic computing and other AI to these areas), though I am more eclectic on what I supervise as taught course projects. I was awarded my PhD in 2002 and promoted to a Personal Chair in January 2005.

I have been cited around 5500 times (see My_Google_Scholar_Page ). I am currently engaged in personal research that is exceptionally ambitious but with significant chances of nothing meaningful coming out of it, but then again, if something does....  You can also find information on my research in the York Research Database.

Most would describe my research work as largely applied, but I have one brain and I have to use it for everything. I don't distinguish too strongly between theory and applied. I am part of the EPSRC's Programme Grant on Dynamic Adaptive Automated Software Engineering (DAASE), led by Mark Harman at UCL.

RESEARCH AWARDS. In the past twelve years I have also been co-author of eleven prize-winning research papers: particular thanks to my PhD students, many of whom I taught as undergraduates. Prizes include Evolutionary Computation Human Competitive Awards (Humies) Silver and Bronze medals ($1000 in 2005 and $2000 in 2013) for work on quantum algorithm synthesis (with Massey and Stepney) and NMR pulse sequence generation (with chemists Bechman and Sebald) respectively. I have published or collaborated on PhD supervision, papers or proposals with members of nine of our (now) ten research groups.  I am delighted to have received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award to pursue my work in optimisation based design and analysis of systems (August 2013-July 2018, announced publicly 30 August 2013).

TEACHING. I suppose I have a fairly traditional mindset regarding the interplay between teaching and research: I believe that teaching is an important part of the job I signed up to in 1992.  I have taught on almost 30 modules since coming to York. I helped establish and run the MSc Safety Critical System Engineering in 1994 and set up and was Director of our MSc Cybersecurity (GCHQ accredited) going live in October 2012.  Since 2012 I have concentrated my teaching on the MSc Cybersecurity (but still teach the MEng Undergraduates on my crypto module).

ADMIN. 2005-2007 I was Chair of Examinations within the Department of Computer Science at York. I was secretary to various Boards of Examiners for around 7 years prior to that too. From April 2009 I was Deputy Head of Department (Responsible for Research). I viewed my research role largely as helping the people who work with me get on in their careers by producing excellent research. From 17th in REF 2008, we achieved joint 7/8 with Oxford in REF 2014. I retired from this post in April 2015.

EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENT. I aim to play as best a part I can in the wider academic community. I have been (taught course) external examiner at eight UK Universities since around 2004. These include: Open University, King's College London, Sheffield, Newcastle, Brunel, Imperial College London, and Dublin. I am currently External Examiner at University College London (UCL) and this will come to an end after four years in November 2016. I have learned a lot about teaching and teachers.

Grant Proposals. I have reviewed a lot of grant proposals and I generally aim to support our primary research council (EPSRC) whenever I can. I have chaired three EPSRC panels over the past six years and participated in various others (e.g. CDT Panel 2013, Programme Grants Panel, 2015, Cybersecurity CDT Panel 2014). 

I do some outreach activities, e.g. talking to Computing at Schools (CAS) and judging technology competitions, and I usually do one University Open Day talk each year. I am thinking about a free CS schools textbook in the fairly near future.

You may occasionally hear me on BBC Radio York, usually drive time slot, and typically after there has been some cybersecurity catastrophe. I much enjoy radio and anticipate further opportunitiesJ))

I have some interest in languages - German, French, Latin, and (lately) Russian.