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Professor Anthony Robins

Anthony_226

Owheo Building, Room 2.53
Phone: +64 3 479 8314
Email: anthony@cs.otago.ac.nz

My background is in psychology and linguistics at the University of Canterbury (NZ), and cognitive science at the University of Sussex (UK). I joined the department as a lecturer in artificial intelligence in August 1989. My main areas of research are neural networks and computer science education.

I am interested in neural networks as a tool for modeling cognition, with a particular focus on modeling aspects of memory and forgetting. Much of my research has explored the problem known as "catastrophic forgetting", and whether the "pseudorehearsal" solution that I propose has anything to do with dreams (the consolidation of learning during sleep). I am part of the artificial intelligence group, which includes such topics such as defeasible reasoning.

My second main research focus is computer science education, particularly the teaching and learning of a first programming language. Introductory "CS1" programming courses typically have very rates of both failing and of excellent grades (with fewer "mid-range" grades than usual). I think that we can make sense of this apparent paradox in terms of the mechanisms of learning and the unusually dense / interconnected nature of programming language constructs. I have been involved in two international studies of novice programmers, the Scaffolding and BRACE projects.

I teach and coordinate COMP160, the Department's introductory programming paper (Java), and COSC420 Neural Networks. In 2012 I was awarded an Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award. I love teaching at all levels, and have been involved with many robotics projects for local high schools, including helping to run the annual RoboCup Junior Otago competition.

Selected Publications

For more publications, please check my Google Scholar profile.

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Publications

Atkinson, C., McCane, B., Szymanski, L., & Robins, A. (2018). Pseudo-recursal: Solving the catastrophic forgetting problem in deep neural networks. arXiv. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.03875

Robins, A. (2017). Learning and teaching programming. In P. A. Laplante (Ed.), Encyclopedia of computer science and technology (Vol. 2). (2nd ed.) (pp. 551-561). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. [Encyclopaedia/Dictionary Entry].

Gorman, C., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2017). Hopfield networks as a model of of prototype-based category learning: A method to distinguish trained, spurious, and prototypical attractors. Neural Networks, 91, 76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2017.04.007

McCane, B., Ott, C., Meek, N., & Robins, A. (2017). Mastery learning in introductory programming. Proceedings of the Nineteenth Australasian Computing Education (ACE) Conference. New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3013499.3013501

Mesbah, R., McCane, B., Mills, S., & Robins, A. (2017, November). Improving spatial context in CNNs for semantic medical image segmentation. Poster session presented at the 4th Asian Conference on Pattern Recognition, Nanjing, China.

Chapter in Book - Research

Robins, A. (2017). Learning and teaching programming. In P. A. Laplante (Ed.), Encyclopedia of computer science and technology (Vol. 2). (2nd ed.) (pp. 551-561). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. [Encyclopaedia/Dictionary Entry].

Robins, A. (2012). Learning edge momentum. In N. M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the sciences of learning. (pp. 1845-1848). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6

Robins, A. V. (1998). Transfer in cognition. In S. Thrun & L. Pratt (Eds.), Learning to Learn. (pp. 45-67). Dordrecht, Germany: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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Journal - Research Article

Gorman, C., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2017). Hopfield networks as a model of of prototype-based category learning: A method to distinguish trained, spurious, and prototypical attractors. Neural Networks, 91, 76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2017.04.007

Ott, C., Robins, A., & Shephard, K. (2016). Translating principles of effective feedback for students into the CS1 context. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 16(1), 1. doi: 10.1145/2737596

Ott, C., Robins, A., Haden, P., & Shephard, K. (2015). Illustrating performance indicators and course characteristics to support students’ self-regulated learning in CS1. Computer Science Education, 25(2), 174-198. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2015.1033129

Robins, A. (2015). The ongoing challenges of computer science education research. Computer Science Education, 25, 115-119. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2015.1034350

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2014). A perceptually grounded model of the singular–plural distinction. Language & Cognition, 6(3), 327-369. doi: 10.1017/langcog.2014.9

Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2014). A case study of the introduction of computer science in NZ schools. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 14(2), 10. doi: 10.1145/2602485

Rountree, J., Robins, A., & Rountree, N. (2013). Elaborating on threshold concepts. Computer Science Education, 23(3), 265-289. doi: 10.1080/08993408.2013.834748

Lamb, P. F., Bartlett, R. M., & Robins, A. (2011). Artificial neural networks for analyzing inter-limb coordination: The golf chip shot. Human Movement Science, 30, 1129-1143. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2010.12.006

Lamb, P. F., Müendermann, A., Bartlett, R. M., & Robins, A. (2011). Visualizing changes in lower body coordination with different types of foot orthoses using self-organizing maps (SOM). Gait & Posture, 34(4), 485-489. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.06.024

Dutt-Mazumder, A., Button, C., Robins, A., & Bartlett, R. (2011). Neural network modelling and dynamical system theory: Are they relevant to study the governing dynamics of association football players? Sports Medicine, 41(12), 1003-1017. doi: 10.2165/11593950-000000000-00000

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2010). Self-organising maps: An objective method for clustering complex human movement. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, 9(1), 20-29. Retrieved from http://iacss.org/index.php?id=94

Robins, A. (2010). Learning edge momentum: A new account of outcomes in CS1. Computer Science Education, 20(1), 37-71. doi: 10.1080/08993401003612167

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., Robins, A., & Kennedy, G. (2008). Self-organizing maps as a tool to analyze movement variability. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport, 7(1), 28-39.

Walles, H., Knott, A., & Robins, A. (2008). A model of cardinality blindness in inferotemporal cortex. Biological Cybernetics, 98(5), 427-437.

Tenenberg, J., Fincher, S., Blaha, K., Bouvier, D., Chen, T.-Y., Chinn, D., … Robins, A., … VanDeGrift, T. (2005). Students designing software: A multi-national, multi-institutional study. Informatics in Education, 4(1), 143-162.

Abraham, W. C., & Robins, A. (2005). Memory retention: The synaptic stability versus plasticity dilemma. Trends in Neurosciences, 28(2), 73-78.

Robins, A. (2004). Sequential learning in neural networks: A review and a discussion of pseudorehearsal based methods. Intelligent Data Analysis, 8(3), 301-322.

Rountree, N., Rountree, J., Robins, A., & Hannah, R. (2004). Interacting factors that predict success and failure in a CS1 course [Reviewed paper]. Inroads: The SIGCSE Bulletin, 36(4), 101-104.

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. R. (2004). A robust method for distinguishing between learned and spurious attractors. Neural Networks, 17, 313-326.

Robins, A. V., Rountree, J., & Rountree, N. (2003). Learning and teaching programming: A review and discussion. Computer Science Education, 13(2), 137-172.

Rountree, N., Rountree, J., & Robins, A. V. (2002). Predictors of success and failure in a CS1 course. Inroads: The SIGCSE Bulletin, 34(4), 121-124.

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. R. J. R. (1999). The consolidation of learning during sleep: Comparing the pseudorehearsal and unlearning accounts. Neural Networks, 12, 1191-1206.

Frean, M. R., & Robins, A. V. (1999). Catastrophic forgetting in simple networks: An analysis of the pseudorehearsal solution. Network, 10, 227-236.

McCallum, S. J. R. J. R., & Robins, A. V. (1999). Mechanisms for memory consolidation. New Zealand Journal of Computing, 7, 13-20.

Robins, A. V., & McCallum, S. J. (1998). Catastrophic forgetting and the pseudorehearsal solution in Hopfield type networks. Connection Science, 10, 121-135.

Robins, A. V., & Frean, M. R. (1998). Local learning algorithms for sequential tasks in neural networks. Advanced Computational Intelligence, 2, 221-227.

Frean, M. R., & Robins, A. V. (1998). Catastrophic forgetting and "pseudorehearsal" in linear networks. Australian Journal of Intelligent Information Processing Systems, 5, 44-49.

Robins, A. V. (1996). Transfer in cognition. Connection Science, 8, 161-179.

Robins, A. V. (1996). Consolidation in neural networks and in the sleeping brain. Connection Science, 8, 235-251.

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Journal - Research Other

Robins, A. V. (2005). A day in the library. Annals of Research on Engineering Education, 1. Retrieved from http://www.areeonline.org/?id=3928

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

McCane, B., Ott, C., Meek, N., & Robins, A. (2017). Mastery learning in introductory programming. Proceedings of the Nineteenth Australasian Computing Education (ACE) Conference. New York, NY: ACM. doi: 10.1145/3013499.3013501

Ott, C., Robins, A., & Shephard, K. (2014). An infographic to support students' self-regulated learning. Proceedings of the 14th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education. (pp. 177-178). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2674683.2674705

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2013). A neural network model of visual attention and group classification, and its performance in a visual search task. In S. Cranefield & A. Nayak (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 8272). (pp. 98-103). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-03680-9_11

Thompson, D., Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2013). The role of teachers in implementing curriculum changes. Proceedings of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 245-250). ACM. [Full Paper]

Bell, T., Newton, H., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2012). The introduction of computer science to NZ high school: An analysis of student work. Proceedings of the 7th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE). (pp. 5-15). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2481449.2481454

Bell, T., Andreae, P., & Robins, A. (2012). Computer Science in NZ high schools: The first year of the new standards. Proceedings of the 43rd Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). (pp. 343-348). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2157136.2157240

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2011). Assessing coordination stability by means of a second SOM. In D. Link & J. Wiemeyer (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sportinformatik trifft Sporttechnologie [Computer science meets sports Sports Technology: 8th Symposium of the dvs Sktion sports computer science in cooperation with the German Interdisciplinary Association of Sports Technology]. (pp. 65-69). Feldhaus. [Full Paper]

Lamb, P., Müendermann, A., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2011). Artificial neural network analysis of coordination between different types of shoe orthotics. In D. Link & J. Wiemeyer (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sportinformatik trifft Sporttechnologie [Computer science meets sports Sports Technology: 8th Symposium of the dvs Sktion sports computer science in cooperation with the German Interdisciplinary Association of Sports Technology]. (pp. 70-74). Feldhaus. [Full Paper]

Fincher, S., Tenenberg, J., & Robins, A. (2011). Research design: Necessary bricolage. Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Computing Education Research (ICER). (pp. 27-32). New York: ACM. doi: 10.1145/2016911.2016919

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., & Robins, A. (2010). Self-organising maps: An objective method for clustering complex human movement. In K. Lyons, A. Baca & A. Lebedew (Eds.), Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium of the International Association of Computer Science in Sport. (pp. 104-113). University of Canberra, Australia: National Institute of Sport Studies. Retrieved from http://www.box.com/shared/2blgcmfi61

Bartlett, R., Lamb, P., & Robins, A. (2008). Use of self organizing maps in technique analysis. Dagstuhl Seminar Proceedings, 8372. Retrieved from http://drops.dagstuhl.de/opus/volltexte/2008/1773

Lamb, P., Bartlett, R., Robins, A., & Kennedy, G. (2007). Self-organizing maps as a tool to analyze movement variability. Proceedings of the 6th International Association on Computer Science in Sport Symposium. (pp. 76-82). [Full Paper]

Tolhurst, D., Baker, B., Hamer, J., Box, I., Cutts, Q., de Raadt, M., … Robins, A., … Tutty, J. (2006). Do map drawing styles of novice programmers predict success in programming? A multi-national, multi-institutional study. Proceedings of the 8th Australian Conference on Computing Education. 52, (pp. 213-222). Darlinghurst, Australia: Australian Computer Society. [Full Paper]

Simon, Fincher, S., Robins, A., Baker, B., Cutts, Q., Haden, P., … Tutty, J. (2006). Predictors of success in a first programming course. Proceedings of the 8th Australian Conference on Computing Education. 52, (pp. 189-196). Darlinghurst, Australia: Australian Computer Society. [Full Paper]

Simon, Cutts, Q., Haden, P., Sutton, K., Box, I., Hamer, J., … Robins, A., … Tutty, J. (2006). The ability to articulate strategy as a predictor of programming skill. Proceedings of the 8th Australian Conference on Computing Education. 52, (pp. 181-188). Darlinghurst, Australia: Australian Computer Society. [Full Paper]

Robins, A., Haden, P., & Garner, S. (2006). Problem distributions in a CS1 course. Proceedings of the 8th Australian Conference on Computing Education. 52, (pp. 165-173). Darlinghurst, Australia: Australian Computer Society. [Full Paper]

Garner, S., Haden, P., & Robins, A. (2005). My program is correct but it doesn't run: A preliminary investigation of novice programmers' problems. In A. Young & D. Tolhurst (Eds.), Proceedings of the Seventh Australasian Computing Education Conference. 42, (pp. 173-180). Newcastle, Australia: Austalian Computer Society. [Full Paper]

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