Recreating the Polish Bomba, Predecessor to the Turing-Welchman Bombe

We are pleased to welcome Jerry McCarthy to talk about ‘Recreating the Polish Bomba’.

The talk will be on Monday 24th February 2020, in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University (see map). Room to be confirmed.

The talk will start at 6.15pm. There will be drinks and light refreshments outside in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building from 5.30pm.

This event is free and open to everyone.


To book your free ticket, please go to Eventbrite.


In the mid-to-late 1930s, Polish mathematicians created a number of methodologies to decrypt messages sent using the 3-rotor Enigma.

Diagram of the Polish Bomba.
Image used under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. Source: Commons Wikipedia.

This talk will:

  • Explain the considerable variety of known Enigma machines. Enigma is not just A Machine; it’s an entire family!
  • Provide an introduction to cryptography starting at the Caesar Cipher and ending on focussing on the operation of one particular common Enigma machine variant.
  • Discuss some of the Polish methodologies for cracking that machine, and finally focus on the Bomba created by three Polish mathematicians in the late 1930s, which was a device which took advantage of the message protocols used at that time, and for which the speaker has developed a working model using a mixture of ancient and modern techniques. A basic prototype will be described, and the subsequent working model will be demonstrated and explained in some detail. Some extensions to its original functionality will also be discussed.

Speaker Biography

Jerry’s day job used to be to write software, in areas such as retail systems, cryptography and internationalisation, for a global computing company. Since his retirement, he now volunteers at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC), which is situated within the Bletchley Park Campus. There, he talks to visitors about, inter alia, Tunny, Colossus, and the Museum’s slide rule collection. He also volunteers at the Instytut Józefa Piłsudskiego, where he gives the occasional talk on matters cryptological, such as Enigma and early Polish systems for breaking it.

Jerry is not rich enough to be a full-time cryptocollector, but is interested in crypto simulation techniques which allow virtual acquisition of crypto hardware without needing to find the space to store it. Jerry’s house is definitely not big enough for a Colossus!

Building the Ethical Hacking Capability

We are pleased to welcome Mark Jones from the DVLA to talk about work on building a Ethical Hacking Team. This will be on Monday 25th November 2019, starting at 6pm. It will be held in the room MP-0.11 in the Physical Sciences building (see map for location). There will be light refreshments available from 5.30pm in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building.

This event is open to everyone. It is free to attend.


The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Transport. We hold and maintain over 48 million driver records, over 40 million vehicle records and collect around £6 billion a year in vehicle excise duty (VED).

In September 2015, DVLA’s IT outsourcing contract finished and the services were brought in-house.

This presentation briefly describes the DVLA transformation and focusses on the creation of an in-house Ethical Hacking Team, the issues we faced during its implementation and the cultural changes required for its success.


Mark Jones has worked for the DVLA since 1989, moving into the IT area in 1998. Since then he has taken on positions as the Head of Software Engineering and Head of Business IT and most recently, formed the DVLA Ethical Hacking Team in 2017. He also created and runs the DVLA STEM Programme promoting IT Learning across Schools and Colleges in Wales to children and young adults aged between 7 and 19. 

Virtual and Augmented Reality at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

BCS Mid-Wales is pleased to invite Gary Smith and Cerys Middle to talk about the work on Virtual and Augmented Reality at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. The event starts at 6pm in MP-0.15 in the Physical Sciences building, Aberystwyth University (AccessAble information for MP-0.15 is available). There will be light refreshments in the foyer outside the lecture room from 5.30pm.

The event is free and open to all. 


Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water have a mature VR and AR programme aimed at enhancing the delivery of information to operational staff and helping reduce risk in the complex decision making process. The teams use a wide range of handheld and wearable technology and won Innovation Awards in 2017 and 2018 and were shortlisted in 2019.

Gary Smith will review how mixed reality has helped reduce risk and drive improvements but also as a Chartered Safety Engineer will explore how risks from the software and hardware have been assessed, controlled and implemented ensuring the long-term safety and ergonomic comfort of users during whole shift applications.

DCWW is also using new technology including 360 mapping and workflow and remote assistance tools and Cerys Middle will explore how the adoption of Matrix 360 is used to support operational incidents to enable incident controllers and operators to have visibility of critical points of interest (POI) which are required for operation of the assets and how workflows are used in practice to ensure complex tasks are completed in a controlled repeatable manner.


Gary Smith

Gary Steven Smith CFIOSH FRSH ILTM

Head of Integrated Management Systems and Asset Information at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water 

Gary heads a function comprising seven work streams at Dŵr Cymru, delivering operational services with a strong focus on asset data management and data exploitation and the application of new and emerging technologies in an industrial context including augmented and virtual reality.

Gary has worked in a wide range of industrial, offshore and service delivery environments and his expertise in Occupational Health and Safety and Risk Management has resulted in him being employed as an expert evidence in the prosecution and defence of businesses and individuals.

Gary presently leads the Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water team delivering big data outputs to field based operators using ruggedised and wearable technology utilising both AR, VR and the IoT– “the right information, presented in the right way, in the timely manner at the operator’s point of use with a view to reducing risk and driving efficiency”Gary has presented a multiple international conferences over the last 20 years and lives and works in Mid Wales.

Cerys Middle

Cerys Middle

Cerys is the Works Operating Manual Team Manager at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and has worked in the water industry for the past 19 years and has a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge the water industry spanning site operations focusing on leakage and collecting data for large commercial customers and analysing complex data for leakage delivery for DCWW.

Cerys presently leads a team of technicians, who maintain and create technical Operating Manuals and Instructions including Portable and Waste Water Treatment Works, Service Reservoirs, Water Pumping Stations, Primary and Secondary Trunk Mains systems, Urban Waste Water Treatment Works and Operator Self-Monitoring sites.

Cerys is currently managing a project to drive innovative technologies into the business with the use of QR coding, NFC tagging, Augmented Reality and virtual reality on handheld or wearable devices.

AGM 2019 and Talks on AI

Our next meeting will be on Monday 28th October 2019. The meeting will begin with our Annual General Meeting for 2019 and continues with a set of talks on the theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Our speakers are lecturers and students in the Computer Science Department at Aberystwyth University. 

  • Approximately Right is better than Precisely Wrong – why “new” AI isn’t working – Neil MacParthalain
  • Adapting to evolving environments – Tom Fearn
  • Whose Bias? – Key Paul-Fitton
  • AI Ethics: do they matter? – Roger Boyle

There are refreshments in foyer of the Physical Sciences building from 5:45pm. The AGM starts at 6:15pm and is followed immediately by our speakers. 

The event is free and open to everyone. 

To help with our planning, please reserve your free place by booking a ticket from Eventbrite.

The Agenda is shown in the attached image.

Enriching Pathway Models Using Text Mining

We are pleased to welcome Sophia Ananiadou, a Professor in Computer Science at the University of Manchester, to talk about “Enriching Pathway Models Using Text Mining”. The meeting will talk will start at 6pm on Thursday 9th May in MP-0.11 in the Physical Sciences building. Details are below. 

This is a free event, open to everyone.

There will be light refreshments available from 5.30pm in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building.

To book your free place, please register at Eventbrite:

Pathway models are valuable resources that help us to understand the various mechanisms underpinning complex biological processes. Their curation is typically carried out through manual inspection of the scientific literature, a knowledge-intensive and laborious task. Text mining methods are used to automate model reconstruction by increasing the speed and reliability of discovery and extracting evidence from the literature. 

Complex information from the literature is automatically extracted and then mapped to reactions in existing pathway models.  Information from the literature (events) can act as corroborative evidence of the validity of these reactions in a model or help to extend it. In addition, by contextualising the textual evidence (extracting uncertainty and negation), we can provide additional confidence measures for linking and ranking information from the literature for model curation and ultimately experimental design. In addition, visual analytics methods can act as the nexus between text mining methods and modellers by providing an interactive way to explore and analyse the statements linked with pathways.

Sophia Ananiadou is Professor in Computer Science, School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester, Director of the National Centre for Text Mining and a Turing Fellow.  

Since 2005, she has successfully directed NaCTeM to be a fully sustainable centre, carrying out novel, world-leading research on text mining, which informs the provision of services, tools, resources and infrastructure to a variety of users from translational medicine, biology, biodiversity, humanities, health and social sciences.

Research led by Prof. Ananiadou has advanced the state of the art in text mining and contributed in novel ways to: automatic extraction of terminology and term variation; development of robust taggers for biomedical text; automatic extraction of events and their interpretation using machine learning methods; development of large scale terminological resources for biomedicine and biodiversity; linking textual evidence with metabolic and signalling pathways; association mining and hypothesis generation; supporting the development of systematic reviews using novel topic modeling and clustering methods and the development of interoperable text mining infrastructure to facilitate all the above applications (Argo).  

Her team achieved top performance in several NLP and text mining challenges, e.g. BioCreaTive, BioNLP, n2c2, etc. Her h-index is 51, with more than 10,000 citations.

Behind the scenes with some Cash Machines

Our next meeting is on Monday 11th February. We are pleased to welcome Dr Nick Pringle to talk about “Behind the scenes with some Cash Machines.” The talk starts at 6.00pm in MP-0.11 in the Physical Sciences building at Aberystwyth University (Map).

Did you recently see that the FBI unusually issued a global warning about an orchestrated attack on the ATM network? With nearly 60,000 ATMs in the UK alone, what are the challenges of balancing the desire for availability and convenience and the overall need for physical and cyber security?

We are pleased to welcome Dr Nick Pringle to consider issues as diverse as: what defines a secure supply chain? How does ISO27001 apply? Does a commercial operating system like Windows 10 have role in a secure environment like an ATM ?
What sorts of job roles are required to meet the service and security challenges?  What’s the future for cash in a “cashless society”? 

Dr Pringle received his PhD in digital forensics from the University of South Wales and works in the area of computer security.

The talk will start at 6pm and there will be drinks and light refreshments in the foyer of the building from 5.30pm.
The talk is free and open to everyone.

Reserve your free ticket

To help with our planning, reserve your free place

Cloud Security Myths and Considerations

We are pleased to welcome Rob Clark to speak to the next branch meeting on  Monday 10th December. The talk will be at Aberystwyth University in room MP-0.11 (Physics A) in the Physical Sciences Building (Map)
Cloud Security Myths and Considerations
Cloud computing has the potential to allow developers to move faster, to focus on adding value rather than infrastructure challenges. Why then do we see so many cloud compromises and why is it that regulated markets such as finance and healthcare have held back from taking advantage of cloud services? In this presentation I’ll address security best practice in the cloud and how cloud systems can make your projects more secure.

Robert Clark is an graduate of the Computer Science Department at Aberystwyth University. He is Chief Technology Officer for IBM Cloud Security and a passionate open source advocate.

The talk will start at 6pm and there will be drinks and light refreshments in the foyer of the building from 5.30pm.
The talk is free and open to everyone.

Reserve your free ticket

To help with our planning, reserve your free place

Bots, burnout and blame: How to use IT to build better organisations

We are pleased to welcome Matthew Bellringer to our meeting on Thursday 22nd November to talk about “Bots, burnout and blame: How to use IT to build better organisations”. This will be at 18.00 in MP-0.11 (Physics A) in the Physical Sciences Building at Aberystwyth University.

There will be light refreshments from 5.30 in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building. There are steps from the foyer to the room, but there is also wheelchair lift access available. A map for the location is available.

Get your free ticket

The event is free and open to everyone. We do ask that you reserve your place by getting a free ticket for the event at Eventbrite.


In our working lives we have tools that would seem magical to employees a hundred years ago. Our hand-held devices connect us immediately to most of the combined knowledge of humanity. Our working conditions have improved immeasurably. So why are levels of anxiety and depression so high? Poor workplaces cause their staff to feel this way. This leads to poor decision-making and organisational failure.

We will consider key personal and organisational factors which give rise to workplace stress, and what can be done about them. We’ll look at how to build organisations that deliver high performance which is not the result of over-work. We’ll look at the way AI and machine learning help build the kind of places people really want to work. This talk will help you both as an employee and a manager to create an environment which allows for greater wellbeing and higher performance.

There will be a talk followed by a discussion.


Matthew Bellringer is founder of Meaningbit LTD, a startup which helps organisations and their people grow and innovate together. He has recently left his role as Head of Platform Development at the University of Sussex to concentrate on the startup full-time. He has worked in IT for over fifteen years, largely in education and the third sector.


High Speed Automated Inspection of Railway Track

We are pleased to welcome Iain King to our meeting on Monday 19th November to talk about “High Speed Automated Inspection of Railway”. This will be at 18.00 in MP-0.11 (Physics A) in the Physical Sciences Building at Aberystwyth University.

There will be light refreshments from 5.30 in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building. There are steps from the foyer to the room, but there is also wheelchair lift access available.  A map for the location is available.

Get your free ticket

The event is free and open to everyone. We do ask that you reserve your place by getting a free ticket for the event at Eventbrite.


Network Rail collects asset related data using a fleet of infrastructure measurement trains. The data is fundamental to the safety and asset management of the railway, underpinning Network Rail’s approach to efficient and effective safety and asset management. The fleet uses complex measurement technology (e.g. lasers, ultrasonic probes, ground penetrating radar and HD cameras) integrated with accurate positioning systems to collect asset related data to tight measurement tolerances. Network Rail’s asset base includes approximately 2,500 stations, 22,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and tunnels and 26,000 switches and crossings.

The Infrastructure Measurement fleet comprises 13 trains formed of 64 carriages. It covers 550,000 data mile every year. There are currently 18 different types of condition measurements (data streams) which generate up to 1.3 petabytes of data each four weeks. Depending on the measurement being taken, the trains can travel at up to 100 miles per hour whilst measuring. The data is collected, analyzed and distributed to local maintenance managers. The analysis is used to plan appropriate maintenance.

The presentation will describe both the technologies and how they are used to improve the safety, reliability and cost of the railway.

Iain will also mention Network Rail’s commitment to Open Data and the HackTrain.


Iain has worked in IT in the rail industry for over thirty years in a variety of business-facing roles.  He is currently a Senior Business Analyst working on a Digital Railway initiative – the deployment of a rail traffic management system covering south Wales.  Iain has a very wide understanding of the stakeholders, business drivers and business processes in the rail industry in the UK and overseas and of the IT systems which support them.  This experience covers train planning, train operations, rail infrastructure maintenance and business applications.  Iain has the knack of explaining complex topics in terms that can be readily understood.  He has a positive approach to innovation in business management, systems engineering and technology.  Iain is a member of the BCS and an affiliate member of the Institution of Railway Operators.

AGM and Surveillance event

On Wednesday 24th October, the BCS Mid-Wales AGM for 2017-2018 will be held at Aberystwyth University. The meeting will start at 6.20pm.  Immediately following the AGM there will be a session with a series of short talks about Surveillance from all angles.

The meeting is free and open to everyone.

AGM Details
The AGM notice, agenda and copies of previous minutes have been circulated by email to members of BCS Mid-Wales.

Surveillance from all angles

The Surveillance from all angles event is a series of four short talks:

  • “Who hath not seen thee?” Literature and Mass Surveillance – Richard Marggraf Turley
  • Wearable surveillance and personal tracking – Otar Akanyeti
  • Video surveillance in the AI age – Hannah Dee
  • What Cambridge Analytica did – Roger Boyle
The Surveillance part of the evening starts around 18.30 and runs until around 19.30. There will be time for questions. We expect the event to end at 20.00.
The event is free to attend, but we do ask that you book your place to help us plan the refreshments. Please visit our Eventbrite page to book your free ticket.

Location and Accessibility
The meeting will take place in the Physical Sciences building – see the location on Open Street Map.

The meeting room is MP-0.15, also known as Physics Main. Information about the room is available.  The room is on the ground floor and has ramp access. Access to the room from the foyer is via accessible lifts in the building.

Refreshments and Drinks
There will be light refreshments available from 6pm in the foyer of the Physical Sciences building.