Martin Sewell


12 August 2017

Martin and Qi

10 January 2000I embarked upon a PhD programme in the Department of Computer Science at UCL.
9 January 2003The programme was expected to cease.
27 April 2003I became permanently teetotal.
25 November 2008I submitted my thesis.
9 June 2009My first viva was conducted. My external examiner was Edward Tsang, a professor in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex, and my internal examiner was David Barber, Reader in Information Processing in the Department of Computer Science at UCL. I fell out with both examiners, Professor Tsang was visibly angry because I had not cited his work, whilst Dr Barber is a notoriously harsh bully and would not let me defend my thesis. I was asked to resubmit my PhD thesis and attend another viva. Professor Tsang hadn’t bothered to submit a preliminary report, thus the independence was lost forever, but nobody seemed to care.
4 February 2011I resubmitted my thesis.
4 July 2011I had a second viva, again with Professor Tsang and Dr Barber. The atmosphere was the most hostile and uncomfortable I have ever experienced. The subsequent examiners’ joint report, incredibly, contained lies.
15 August 2011 Because seven regulations were breached in terms of supervision (I received no technical supervision for seven years then finally received just three hours) and nine further regulations were breached during the examination process, I submitted a UCL Student Grievance against both the Department and the examiners.
25 January 2012A Grievance Panel was formed, and I attended a Student Grievance hearing. The Department of Computer Science attempted to cover up both their negligence vis-à-vis supervision and, more surprisingly, the bias exhibited by the examiners. They attempted to create a wall of silence by saying as little as possible.
15 February 2013Exactly eighteen months after I submitted my Student Grievance I was presented with a three-page ‘Completion of Procedures’ document which ignored most of my complaint but admitted negligence vis-à-vis supervision but, incredibly, concluded with ‘Your request to be re-examined has not been granted.’ and ‘By way of compensation, one year’s worth of fees is being refunded to you.’. The document included many false (and in some cases defamatory) statements. Procedure was breached by the panel in a serious way (making sixteen breaches of regulations in total), the student representative member of the panel did not take part in the decision-making process. The document failed to mention my right to appeal, so I complained to the Provost.
1 March 2013I received a Completion of Procedures (Resubmitted), which acknowledged my right to appeal.
6 April 2013I submitted an appeal against the decision of the Grievance Panel.
31 July 2013 My appeal was evaluated by Julie Clark, who, incredibly, concluded with ‘[a]ccording to the terms of the Grievance Procedure I am not of the opinion that the appeal should go further.’
27 August 2013I was sent another Completion of Procedures by UCL, who concluded with ‘Your appeal is therefore not upheld and the findings and decision of the initial Grievance Panel of 25 January 2011 [sic] stand. UCL does, however, accept that the consideration of your complaint has taken longer than would be ideal and in recognition of this delay has agreed further to the decision of the Chair of the Appeals Panel that a sum of £500 should be offered to you and this offer will remain open to you for two months from the date of this letter.’ I didn’t accept any of this.
26 November 2013 I filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), an independent body set up to review student complaints.
14 February 2014I responded to UCL with some comments on the information supplied by UCL.
10 December 2014The OIA issued their Complaint Outcome. They wrote ‘In his complaint to the OIA Mr Sewell commented that “this has been a never-ending nightmare and a constant source of stress” which is hardly surprising. We are concerned that whilst the final decision letter recognises the delay and offers compensation it makes no apology for any distress and inconvenience the delay had caused.’ They decided that my complaint was Partly Justified and ‘We recommend that the University offers to reconsider Mr Sewell’s grievance and to offer him £1500 and an apology for the delays in completing the Grievance Procedure.’
7 May 2015I had a second Panel Hearing at UCL.
9 July 2015The Panel issued their Complaint Panel Hearing Outcome. They granted me the opportunity to resubmit my thesis and offered one year’s stipend (£16,057). I accepted this outcome.
21 July 2016I submitted my thesis.
19 September 2016 My external examiner’s Preliminary Report included the following evaluation of my thesis: ‘The project conducted by Mr. Martin Sewell is an interdisciplinary research work which bridges two disciplines through a research statement that is complex and challenging in its own. What I very like is the scientific way he performed, namely to accept the inspiration of the work by [Gershenfeld, Weigend] and to arrange a strategic plan to conclude by considering the three mentioned goals ‘characterisation’, ‘modeling’, and ‘forecasting’, to exemplary select Machine Learning algorithms and to match the test results towards financial theories, and to draft the potential of Machine Learning by stimulating further applications. With it, Mr. Sewell proves that he has not only implemented an agenda, but that he has given thought to own ideas, approaches, and thinking. All in all, it is a remarkable effort. lt should be mentioned that this is also reflected by the thesis report itself, which testifies to a scientific familiarity with the targeted fields.’
25 September 2016 The day before my viva I ran my first ultramarathon, the Monster Ultra 68 km.
26 September 2016I had a PhD viva, which I started with a presentation, with new examiners and passed. Third time lucky. Or, rather, first time without hostile examiners.
28 April 2017The degree was officially awarded.
1 July 2017 Three days before my graduation I ran the Cotswold Way Challenge 100 km from Bath to Cheltenham (2,341m elevation), coming 7th overall (6th male) out of 707, taking 13h 16m 43s.
4 July 2017My UCL Graduation Ceremony was at the Royal Festival Hall, I attended with my parents and Qi.

My thesis, Application of Machine Learning to Financial Time Series Analysis, is more peer reviewed, and generated a greater number of publications, than any other PhD that I am aware of awarded within that department. Unsurprisingly, the Head of Department described the case as a ‘travesty’, and my solicitor described the case as a ‘shocking’ case of ‘breach of contract and/or negligence’. Although I never asked for a penny, I was awarded, in total, £20,367. However, the opportunity cost in terms of loss of earnings due to the delay would be in the region of £500,000.