Steve Oldridge

Currently I am pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering under Dr. Sidney Fels. My thesis research is focused on digital photography, where i am investigating multiple capture, single image (MCSI) camera systems with a focus on extending focal depth. This is especially relevant to macro photography, where depth of field is severely limited. I am also involved in the creation of openVL, an open source image processing and understanding pipeline modelled after openGL.

Prior to beginning my Ph.D. I was working full time as a photographer. My older work can be seen on my website Knowledge in the field of photography has given me essential insights into some potential technological improvements. In a more general sense this is exactly what I plan on building a career around; bridging the gap between the art world and technology. As an artist who is pushing the limitations of technology, I know exactly what improvements i'd like to see, and as an engineer I understand the limitations of the technology well enough to know what's possible. This applies to my photography, the photoshop work I do, as well as the music I'd like to be making. The HCT Lab at UBC is an exciting place to be in that regard because a number of other increadibly creative people who work there are blurring the line between artist and engineer.

M.A.Sc: I completed my Masters of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia under Dr. Steve Wilton in April of 2002. His research group focuses on the development of Architectures and Algorithms for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). After an initial investigation into Reconfigurable Computing my research interests settled on FPGA memory. My thesis research mainly focused on configuration memory re-use in switch blocks. Publications from my M.A.Sc. include:

S.W. Oldridge, S.J.E. Wilton, ``Placement and Routing Algorithms for FPGA Architectures Supporting Wide Shallow Memories'', to appear in IEEE International Conference on Field Programmable Technologies, Dec 2003.
S.W. Oldridge, ``A Novel FPGA Supporting Wide Shallow Memories'', M.A.Sc. Thesis, April 2002. [abstract] [pdf]
S.W. Oldridge, S.J.E. Wilton, ``A Novel FPGA Architecture Supporting Wide Shallow Memories'', IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference, May 2001. [abstract] [pdf]

Future: Beyond computer architecture the following areas interest me...

  • Computer Music
  • '~` In February of 2001 I started working on a project with two other UBC students that eventually led to the creation of One Hand Clapping Audio Technologies Incorporated. The market at the time was quite volatile, and we were at least a year away from a product, so finding investors proved to be difficult. Lots of lessons were learned, but the company folded in 2003.

  • Intellectual Property
  • '~` Through my thesis research and my involvement with OHC I came to learn about how ideas are protected. Patents are no longer 'greek' to me, and I can usually get the gist of the concept being described. You would not believe some of the bizarre patents that are filed...

  • Lucid Dreaming
  • '~` I've become extremelly interested in lucid dreaming of late, to the point where I've given introductory workshops on the subject and have a few more planned because of the high interest. You spend a third of your life sleeping; how do you know you aren't dreaming right now?

  • Hypnosis
  • '~` My interest in lucid dreaming quickly spread into altered states of conciousness. Communication between the unconcious and concious mind fascinate me. Our unconcious has so much to tell us. Hypnosis is another way to bridge that gap.

  • Neural Networks
  • '~` Computation modelled after a simplified version of neural functioning within the brain. I have taken a graduate level course on the subject and although I found the concept of mimicking the brain intruiging, I was extremely disappointed with the implementation, something which eventually led me to...

  • Brain Building
  • '~` While the field of Neural Networks focuses mainly on the use of small networks to solve existing engineering problems, a small number of researchers are attempting to use neurons for their evolved purpose; large scale parallel processing to mimic the brain's function.

  • Artificial Life
  • '~` The creation of new life forms by humans may seem far fetched, or at least far in the future, however researchers in this field have already begun to investigate the key components that make a system behave like a living organism.

  • Genetic Algorithms
  • '~` Applying the principles of design by evolution to solve modern day engineering problems. My hope is to develop a genetic sorting and placement tool for the fpga compilation process.

  • Technoethics
  • '~` The ethical implications of the technologies being researched today is increasingly becoming an important issue. My interest centres around the creation of an intelligence smarter than a human, but covers a broad range of topics including genetic manipulation, life extension, cloning, rights of artificial life forms, and the impact of technology in general on society.

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • '~` With the proliferation of dependance on computers in today's society we spend more and more of our lives interacting with machines. In order to ease the burden of communication these machines need to be designed intelligently; not to function "correctly" according to the designer but to react in a way that the user intuitively understands.

  • Persuasive Computing
  • '~` The relatively new field of persuasive computing is a good example of the merging of disciplines that is occuring in research today. By combining Psychology with Computing the proponents of this field feel that they can positively influence the behaviour of individuals. The ethical questions that this field will raise when it has gained some momentum and credibility should prove interesting.

  • Evolution
  • '~` Although I missed out entirely on biology in high school and university my investigation into genetic algorithms quickly grew into a fascination of anything to do with evolution. I am particularly interested in the evolution of conciousness and intelligence. I believe that it can serve as a possible means of developing artificial systems.

  • Taoism ~ Zen Buddhism
  • '~` I am a newcomer to the eastern religions, having discovered it through a friend who majored in Buddhism. I was suprised to see how closely the ideologies of Taoism and Zen Buddhism fit with my outlook on life. Since that discovery I have been reading koans and attempting to reflect on the wisdom they teach.