Sam Devlin

PhD in Computer Science
Knowledge-based reward shaping for multi-agent reinforcement learning

Did you start your PhD straight after your first degree?

I started my PhD immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree (also here at York - the MEng Computer Systems and Software Engineering with a year in industry.) I chose to stay on and continue the research I had begun as part of my final year project as I felt the need to dig deeper into my topic.

Have you enjoyed your time at York?

The highlight of my PhD has been presenting my work to a packed room in Taiwan at the leading conference in my field. The positive feedback I received that day gave me a significant confidence boost and remains to this day one of my most well received papers. It was a nice bonus that this experience also allowed me the opportunity to experience the unique and fascinating city of Taipei.

For me the PhD has been exactly what I wanted from university; studying and contributing towards state-of-the-art topics. I did not know this when I started my undergraduate degree, nor when I finished it, but I will never regret doing it.

How will the programme help with your career?

I believe my PhD will be critical in securing the type of boundary-pushing, research driven career I hope to have. Throughout my time at York, my supervisor and research group have been incredibly supportive in helping me to secure such positions for when my thesis is finished.

Do you have any advice or tips for people thinking about postgraduate study in Computer Science at York?

I would highly recommend the Department to any students considering studying here for their postgraduate degree. Think carefully about your favourite topics within Computer Science and then try to match those with the recent publications and interests of the academics in the Department.

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