Beyond Gradients

Alan J. Lockett's Research Pages


Postdoctoral Researcher, Optimization and Control for Autonomous Systems

Seeking to start a research lab as a tenure-track assistant professor

Primary Interests

  • Optimization and Control in Autonomous Systems
  • Probability Theory, Statistical Models
  • Deep Neural Networks for Perception and Control
  • Cognitive Robotics


  • Postdoctoral Fellow with a US NSF grant to use deep neural networks for control of a humanoid robot.
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science with focus on stochastic optimization methods Strong background in mathematics with a focus on probability theory and stochastic processes
  • 8 yrs experience developing research and commercial software in Python, C++, and Java; 5 yrs as consultant/freelancer
  • Experience with full product life cycle: requirements, design, development, deployment
  • Web development expertise across web, business, and database layers in multiple frameworks
  • Experience with UI development in HTML/CSS, Android, wxPython, and JFace (Eclipse)
  • Project management experience in customer-facing and team lead roles
  • Author of open-source evolutionary optimization package PyEC


  • Python 2.5+
  • NumPy / SciPy
  • Matplotlib
  • C/C++
  • Some Fortran
  • Java / J2EE
  • Eclipse RCP
  • Android
  • Django
  • jQuery
  • HTML5/CSS3


Ph.D., 2008 – 2012, University of Texas at Austin

Thesis: General-Purpose Optimization Through Information Maximization

M.S. in Computer Science, 2006 – 2008, University of Texas at Austin

Coursework: Distributed Systems, Stochastic Processes, Neural Networks Research: Automated Opponent Modeling in Poker

M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, 2001 – 2003, University of Texas at Austin

Thesis: “Setting Turkey's Justice and Development Party in Context”, 2003 2 yr coursework in Classical Arabic

B.A. in Linguistics, 1994 – 1998, University of Texas at Austin

Work History

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Artificial Intelligence Studies (IDSIA), June 2013 - May 2015

Funded by US NSF for two years to develop neural networks that integrate perception and control tasks to enable an iCub humanoid robot to play chess.

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Texas, September 2010 – May 2012

Developed a general-purpose optimization package in Python in order to compare twelve different state-of-the-art stochastic optimization methods and released the result as an open-source project on PyPi (PyEC v0.2.5), making substantial use of NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib. Developed a new class of martingale-based optimizers for Euclidean space and neural networks under the names evolutionary annealing and neuroannealing.

Django+Python Developer, Digital Certainty, November 2011 – June 2012

Freelance consultant. Designed and implemented Django-based web framework for industry-specific layout optimization in a mobile context. Developed distributed tools for training of neural networks using evolutionary methods. Technologies include Python, Django, Javascript, Sencha, C++ and Swig.

Senior Engineer, Art & Logic, October 2007 – May 2013

Software development in a consulting capacity, including desktop and web applications with a focus on rich internet applications utilizing open-source technologies. Responsibilities have included project management and client communication, including large projects for Fortune 100 companies with high availability and reliability requirements. Technologies include J2EE, Python + Django, Javascript, PHP.

Senior Software Engineer, FineTooth Enterprises (now Mumboe), June 2007 – October 2007

Natural Language Processing on Legal Contracts and Medical Records. Architected and implemented a replacement for a legacy text extraction system on time and within budget. The codebase comprised approximately 50K lines of C++ code with minimal bugs after deployment. The company hired me as a freelance consultant to maintain and expand the code after the project was complete.

Data Tools Engineer, Catalis Health, August 2006 – February 2007

Knowledge-based tools for Electronic Medical Records. Architected and developed a data management system in Java 5.0 to facilitate entry of medical information into a complex legacy database. Consulted with CTO on structure and design for a proprietary medical knowledge base.

Senior Research Engineer, 21st Century Technologies, June 2004 – May 2006

Principal Investigator on an Air Force SBIR contract for a natural-language-based search tool for a secure repository. Determined research strategy, designed software architecture, oversaw implementation. Wrote successful grant proposals worth $500K. Assisted in strategy and planning for Natural Language Processing research group.

About Me

Alan J. Lockett

I am looking for an assistant professorship to research the theory of feedback controllers for the control of complex autonomous systems, from smart homes to self-driving cars and humanoid robots. A CV and research statement can be found in the links to the left.

I have published on the theory of global optimization, humanoid robotics, neural networks for perception and control, and opponent modelling in games, and am working on a book expanding my Ph.D. thesis about the theory of global optimization under contract with Springer.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Studies on a US National Science Foundation postdoc grant working with Juergen Schmidhuber in Lugano, Switzerland. My Ph.D. is from the University of Texas where I studied with Risto Miikkulainen. See my About page for contact information and more.