Photo of Sean Holden
Dr Sean Holden
University Associate Professor
of Computer Science

This portrait was a gift from my great friend, the artist Ulyana Gumeniuk.

Portrait of Sean.

It involved an initial sitting of about five hours, and a further sitting of a couple of hours to finish it off. Luckily, Ulyana has an extensive collection of death metal in her studio, without which it would have been even more difficult to sit still for five hours.

I began as an electronic engineer, obtaining a BSc in Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of East Anglia in 1989.

Yes, I am from Norfolk. If you wish to mimic my accent, there is some advice here.

While I was an undergraduate I increasingly felt that mathematics was more interesting to me, and consequently began to move in a more mathematical direction initially by joining the Signal Processing and Communications Group in the Engineering Department of Cambridge University to complete my PhD in Engineering at Corpus Christi College in 1994.

I briefly did postdoctoral work in the Signals, Circuits and Systems Research Group at King's College London, before moving back to Cambridge to do further postdoctoral research in the Speech, Vision and Robotics Group, again part of the Department of Engineering.

In 1995 I joined the Department of Computer Science at University College London as a Lecturer, where I stayed until September 2002. While I was a lecturer there I set up and ran the advanced MSc in Intelligent Systems. I was promoted to a Senior Lectureship just before I left for my current post.

Since October 2002 I have been Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in Machine Learning in the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Trinity College, where I am also Director of Studies in Computer Science.

I am a former Junior Member of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

My Erdös-Bacon-Sabbath Number

The Erdös Number is quite a well-known quantity.

Some however felt that it was too easy to get a low Erdös number. Enter the Erdös-Bacon-Sabbath Number.

Mine is 10, which I calculate as follows. The fact that it's the same as Richard Feynman's makes me happy. Apparently the only person known to be in single digits is Stephen Hawking!

Erdös Number

My Erdös Number is 4.

Erdös (0) co-authored with Bélla Bollobás (1). Bollobás co-authored with Graham Brightwell (2). Brightwell co-authored with Martin Anthony (3). Finally Anthony and I (4) have a long-running collaboration resulting in several papers.

Bacon Number

My Bacon Number is 3.

Recently, I (3) was interviewed by the wonderful Philomena Cunk of Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe.

Philomena Cunk is played by Diane Morgan (2), who was in The Royal Bodyguard with Stephen Hawke (1).

Stephen Hawke was in X-Men: First Class with Kevin Bacon (0).

Sabbath Number

My Sabbath Number is 3.

I (3) have, for a long time now, played drums for the band Underground Zerø. We share a compilation album called A Pretty Smart Way to Catch a Lobster with the band Doctor and the Medics (2).

(Note: on the album sleave they appear as Gwyllym & The Raspberry Flavoured Cat. There was a lot of trouble involving contractual nonsense, which also means it's not obvious that The Damned are on there as The Spooks, along with at least one member of The Cult.)

(Note 2: This album was made to celebrate the club Alice in Wonderland, that used to exist on Merde Street in Soho, in the days before Soho got stuffed with highstreet coffee chains and thereby ruined. It is impossible to convey the joyful madness of that place, but you get some idea from the book.)

Anyway, Doctor and the Medics worked with Roy Wood (1) on a cover version of Waterloo.

Roy Wood was a member of The Electric Light Orchestra, as was Bev Bevan (0), and Bev Bevan played for Black Sabbath.