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Dr Jane Bromley

Jane Bromley

Profile summary

Professional biography

I've done something fun recently - I was interviewed about my views on Neural Networks, Machine Learning and whether we should fear AI (the answer is "no" but do fear how it is used and by whom!)  This was linked to the OU's support of the Ri's 2023 Xmas Lectures on AI

I grew up and went to school in High Wycombe, a leafy, furniture making town in the Chilterns.  This was followed by a BSc in Physics and PhD in Biophysics (1987) at Imperial College (IC). I then held a joint postdoc funded by the Wellcome Trust between IC and the Royal London Hospital during which I constructed a visual psychophysics lab in a small room off the Neurology Ward. I was instrumental in measuring the effectiveness of neurological treatments.  I also occasionally visited the museum to see the skeleton of the "Elephant Man" (no longer on public show). 

My research at this time was on Visual Dysfunction and my most interesting subject was a person with Visual Agnosia.  As a result of this research I became interested in modelling the human visual system and with a travel grant from the Royal Society I went to  Bell Labs in 1990 to learn about artificial Neural Networks.  [By the by I think I was the first person ever to negotiate a job via email - this was back in 1988!] Here I became involved in the work of the Adaptive Systems Research Department on recognizing characters - handwritten or machine printed, on paper or a tablet.  Initially this was applied to automating mail sorting for the US Post Office, but later the technology was (and is) used by banks around the world to read and process checks.  I also pioneered a neural network architecture called a Siamese Neural Network which I used for Signature Verification.  You can see a demo of it from 1993 here.  Since then it has found useful applications in things like facial recognition to open your phone or at passport control.  Less good uses have been in its uncritical application for example in policing systems which has led to miscarriages of justice.

In case you think I'm just about Computing and AI, I have wide ranging interests.  I've tutored school children in Robotics, including representing the UK in RoboCup Junior at the World Finals in Suzhou, China in 2008; grow bananas; used to drive a 1970 Triumph Spitfre Mark III, but now have a much too powerful 1990 ZR1 Corvette; and can run 5k in under 30 minutes.

Research interests

Machine Learning in Astronomy

This collaboration started 7 years ago with Prof Stephen Serjeant and just one student.  Now, along with Hugh Dickinson and Helen Fraser we share a large and lively group of PhD students who are using Machine Learning to, amongst other things, find Lensed Galaxies, improving angular resolution on Wide-field (but blurry) Extragalactic Surveys and to untangle the vast amounts of data for Ice Astrochemistry.

Complexity and Design (at the OU)

A highly interdisciplinary area involving fundamental research into the methods of complex systems science supported by research into the design of its applications.

Information extraction and data mining (at the OU)

This work was done under the EU FP7 Project: agINFRA: a data infrastructure to support agricultural scientific communities. I worked on information extraction from the legacy biodiversity literature.

Convolutional Neural Networks (at Bell Labs, NJ)
Initially for modelling the visual system, but I never got very far on this, instead becoming engrossed in projects that applied variants of the famous LeNet architecture  created by Yann LeCun to a broad variety of problems in image recognition and signal processing

  • handwritten and machine printed address readers (for the US post office)
  • faxed form reader (for AT&T business forms)
  • use of a special purpose chip (called ANNA) that implemented a handwriting recogniser in silicon (with Bernard Boser and Eduard Sackinger)
  • automatic teller machine that can read checks and bills deposited by bank customers
  • signature verification with a Siamese time delay neural network

The last 2 were collaborative projects with NCR.

My unique contribution, apart from training software that ran like the Disney version of the Sorcerer's Apprentice and couldn't be stopped, was introducing training on “rubbish” to improve rejection performance.

Human Vision (at Imperial College and the Royal London Hospital with Keith Ruddock and Chris Kennard)
The application of psychophysics (the investigation of the relations between physical stimuli and sensation) to the understanding of the normal mechanisms of visual processing, but also to the study of visual abnormalities in order to offer practical assistance to clinical patients.  This was experimental work using computer monitors, Maxwellian View Optical Systems , essentially an optical bench with mirrors, lenses, filters and light sources and the wonderful W. D. Wright Trichromatic Colorimeter built in the 1920s.

  • the role of blue-sensitive cones on spatial processing
  • parallel and sequential visual processing (particularly in dyslexia and amblyopia)
  • visual perseveration
  • visual agnosia
  • hemianopia (in particular blindsight)
  • various central visual defects

Teaching interests


  • Physics labs and classworks at Imperial College
  • Maths from Primary School students through to High School

At the Open University since 2006:

  • ME627 Developing geometric thinking for which I was critical reader (2006) for the course text book
  • TM359 Systems penetration testing
  • TM358 Machine learning & artificial intelligence
  • T855 Team engineering
  • TM256 Cyber security
  • M269 Algorithms, data structures and computability
  • TM129 Technologies in practice
  • T212 Electronics: sensing, logic and actuation
  • T122/TXY122 Career development and employability
  • T227/TXY227 Change, strategy and projects at work
  • TMXY125 and 225 Professional practice
  • TT284 Web technologies
  • T176 Engineering: professions, practice and skills ​- a week of face to face Teaching at the Engineering Residential School
  • T192 Engineering: origins, methods, context.


Impact and engagement

Externally funded projects

Forensic 'Big Code' Analytics in Secure Software Engineering
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator06 Jun 201908 Sep 2022The Royal Society

The aim of this project is to collect forensic evidence from the "Big Code" that violate security requirements in the past and predict the risks of security incidents in the future. "Big code" consists of a variety of artefacts including security goals and requirements, software licenses with terms and conditions, bug reports and code patches at development time, and microservice logs at runtime. Apart from being large in quantity and high in diversity, the big code is also evolving continuously over time. Substantial human efforts have been spent on identifying forensic evidence from the big code, in order to identify computer-related frauds or other security-related incidents. Therefore, the project will focus on three objectives: 1) To identify forensic evidence from unstructured big code, mostly in natural languages, by selecting or extracting the relevant features in software artefacts; 2) To predict changes in structured big code, mostly in programming languages, by evaluating machine learning models against the precision/recall metrics about security-related incidents; 3) To maintain the predictability of forensic analytics continuously, during evolving software development, by updating the learning models incrementally according to the newly arrived big code.


Using cGANs for Anomaly Detection: Identifying Astronomical Anomalies in JWST Imaging (2023-10-19)
Pearce-Casey, Ruby; Dickinson, Hugh; Serjeant, Stephen and Bromley, Jane M.
Research Notes of the AAS, 7, Article 217(10)

The impact of human expert visual inspection on the discovery of strong gravitational lenses (2023)
Rojas, Karina; Collett, Thomas E; Ballard, Daniel; Magee, Mark R; Birrer, Simon; Buckley-Geer, Elizabeth; Chan, James H H; Clément, Benjamin; Diego, José M; Gentile, Fabrizio; González, Jimena; Joseph, Rémy; Mastache, Jorge; Schuldt, Stefan; Tortora, Crescenzo; Verdugo, Tomás; Verma, Aprajita; Daylan, Tansu; Millon, Martin; Jackson, Neal; Dye, Simon; Melo, Alejandra; Mahler, Guillaume; Ogando, Ricardo L C; Courbin, Frédéric; Fritz, Alexander; Herle, Aniruddh; Barroso, Javier A Acevedo; Cañameras, Raoul; Cornen, Claude; Dhanasingham, Birendra; Glazebrook, Karl; Martinez, Michael N; Ryczanowski, Dan; Savary, Elodie; Góis-Silva, Filipe; Ureña-López, L Arturo; Wiesner, Matthew P; Wilde, Joshua; Calçada, Gabriel Valim; Cabanac, Rémi; Pan, Yue; Sierra, Isaac; Despali, Giulia; Cavalcante-Gomes, Micaele V.; Macmillan, Christine; Maresca, Jacob; Grudskaia, Aleksandra; O’Donnell, Jackson H.; Paic, Eric; Niemiec, Anna; de la Bella, Lucia F.; Bromley, Jane M.; Williams, Devon M.; More, Anupreeta and Levine, Benjamin C.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 523 (pp. 4413-4430)

Detecting gravitational lenses using machine learning: exploring interpretability and sensitivity to rare lensing configurations (2022)
Wilde, Joshua; Serjeant, Stephen; Bromley, Jane M; Dickinson, Hugh; Koopmans, Léon V E and Metcalf, R Benton
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 512(3) (pp. 3464-3479)

Super-resolving Herschel imaging: a proof of concept using Deep Neural Networks (2021-10)
Lauritsen, Lynge; Dickinson, Hugh; Bromley, Jane; Serjeant, Stephen; Lim, Chen-Fatt; Gao, Zhen-Kai and Wang, Wei-Hao
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 507(1) (pp. 1546-1556)

COVID-19 and computation for policy (2020-10)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Denning, Peter; Delic, Kemal and Bromley, Jane
Ubiquity, 2020(October) (pp. 1-14)

Using Convolutional Neural Networks to identify Gravitational Lenses in Astronomical images (2019-08-01)
Davies, Andrew; Serjeant, Stephen and Bromley, Jane M.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 487(4) (pp. 5263-5271)

The FuturICT education accelerator (2012-10)
Johnson, J.; Buckingham Shum, S.; Willis, A.; Bishop, S.; Zamenopoulos, T.; Swithenby, S.; MacKay, R.; Merali, Y.; Lorincz, A.; Costea, C.; Bourgine, P.; Louçã, J.; Kapenieks, A.; Kelly, P.; Caird, S.; Bromley, J.; Deakin Crick, R.; Goldspink, C.; Collet, P.; Carbone, A. and Helbing, D.
European Physical Journal - Special Topics, 214 (pp. 215-243)

Signature verification using a"Siamese" time delay neural network (1993)
Bromley, Jane; Bentz, James W.; Bottou, Léon; Guyon, Isabelle; LeCun, Yann; Moore, Cliff; Säckinger, Eduard and Shah, Roopak
International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence, 7(4) (pp. 669-688)

Improving rejection performance on handwritten digits by training with “rubbish” (1993)
Bromley, Jane and Denker, John S.
Neural computation, 5(3) (pp. 367-370)

Application of the ANNA neural network chip to high-speed character recognition (1992)
Säckinger, Eduard; Boser, Bernhard E.; Bromley, Jane M.; LeCun, Yann and Jackel, Larry D.
IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks, 3(3) (pp. 498-505)

Hardware requirements for neural network pattern classifiers: a case study and implementation (1992)
Boser, Bernhard E.; Sackinger, Eduard; Bromley, Jane; leCun, Yann and Jackel, Lawrence D.
IEEE Micro, 12(1) (pp. 32-40)

Reading handwritten digits: a ZIP code recognition system (1992)
Matan, Ofer; Baird, Henry S.; Bromley, Jane M.; Burges, Christopher J. C.; Denker, John S.; Jackel, Lawrence D.; Le Cun, Yann; Pednault, Edwin P. D.; Satterfield, William D.; Stenard, Charles E. and Thompson, Timothy J.
Computer, 25(7) (pp. 59-63)

Abnormal responses to multielement spatial stimuli in a subject with visual form agnosia (1992)
Alkhateeb, W.; Bromley, J. M.; Humphreys, G. W.; Javadnia, A.; Riddoch, M. J. and Ruddock, K. H.
Clinical Vision Sciences, 7(3) (pp. 163-173)

An analog neural network processor with programmable topology (1991-12)
Boser, Bernhard E.; Säckinger, Eduard; Bromley, Jane M.; Le Cun, Yann and Jackel, Lawrence D.
IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, 26(12) (pp. 2017-2025)

Visual spatial filtering and pattern discrimination are abnormal in strabismic amblyopia (1987)
Bromley, J. M.; Javadnia, A. and Ruddock, K. H.
Clinical Vision Sciences, 1(3) (pp. 209-218)

Visual discrimination of target displacement remains after damage to the striate cortex in humans (1986-04-17)
Blythe, Isobel M.; Bromley, Jane M.; Kennard, C. and Ruddock, K. H.
Nature, 320(6063) (pp. 619-621)

A study of systematic visual perseveration involving central mechanisms (1986)
Blythe, I. M.; Bromley, J. M.; Ruddock, K. H.; Kennard, C. and Traub, M.
Brain, 109(4) (pp. 661-675)

The contribution of blue-sensitive cones to spatial responses of post-receptoral visual channels in man (1986)
Blythe, Isobel M.; Bromley, Jane M.; Holliday, I. E. and Ruddock, K. H.
Spatial Vision, 1(4) (pp. 277-289)

Multilevel systems and policy (2018-01-26)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Fortune, Joyce and Bromley, Jane
In: Mitleton-Kelly, Eve; Paraskevas, Alexandros and Day, Christopher eds. Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science: Theory and Applications (pp. 363-387)
ISBN : 9781785364419 / 9781785364426 | Publisher : Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd | Published : Cheltenham, UK

Systems, Networks and Policy (2017-02-05)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Fortune, Joyce and Bromley, Jane M.
In: Johnson, Jeffrey; Nowak, Andrzej; Ormerod, Paul; Rosewell, Bridget and Zhang, Yi-Chang eds. Non-Equilibrium Social Science and Policy: Introduction and Essays on New and Changing Paradigms in Socio-Economic Thinking. Understanding Complex Systems (pp. 111-134)
ISBN : 978-3-319-42422-4 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland

Penacée: a neural net system for recognizing on-line handwriting (1996)
Guyon, I.; Bromley, J. M.; Matić, N.; Schenkel, M. and Weissman, H.
In: Domany, E.; Van Hemmen, J. L. and Schulten, K. eds. Models of Neural Networks III: Association, Generalization and Representation. Physics of Neural Networks (pp. 255-279)
ISBN : 978-0387943688 | Publisher : Springer | Published : New York

Neural network applications in character recognition and document analysis (1994)
Jackel, L. D.; Battista, M. Y.; Ben, J.; Bromley, J.; Burges, C. J. C.; Baird, H. S.; Cosatto, E.; Denker, J. S.; Graf, H. P.; Katseff, H. P.; Le Cun, Y.; Nohl, C. R.; Sackinger, E.; Shamilian, J. H.; Shoemaker, T.; Stenard, C. E.; Strom, B. I.; Ting, R.; Wood, T. and Zuraw, C. R.
In: Yuhas, Ben and Ansari, Nirwan eds. Neural Networks in Telecommunications (pp. 271-285)
ISBN : 9780792394174 | Publisher : Kluwer Academic Publishers | Published : Boston

Parallel and sequential processing in visual discrimination of simple geometrical patterns (1989)
Alkhateeb, W.; Bromley, J. M.; Ibbotsen, V.; Javadnia, A.; Ruddock, K. H. and Terry, A.
In: Kulikowski, J. J.; Dickinson, C. M. and Murray, I. J. eds. Seeing Contour and Colour: Proceeedings of the Third Symposium of the Northern Eye Instiute, Manchester, UK, 9-13 August 1987. Vision and Visual Health Care (3) (p 419)
ISBN : 9780080361369 | Publisher : Pergamon Press | Published : Oxford

Finding agriculture among biodiversity: metadata in practice (2014-11)
Bromley, Jane M.; King, David and Morse, David R.
In : 8th Metadata and Semantics Research Conference (MTSR 2014) (27-29 Nov 2014, Karlsruhe) (pp. 185-192)

Hypernetwork-based peer marking for scalable certificated mass education (2014-09)
Johnson, Jeffrey; Jimenez-Romero, Cristian; Rodrigues, David and Bromley, Jane M.
In : European Conference on Complex Systems 2014 (22-26 Sep 2014, Lucca, Italy)

agINFRA - where agriculture, biodiversity and information technology meet (2013-10)
Morse, David; Bromley, Jane and King, David
In : TDWG 2013 (27 Oct - 1 Nov 2013, Florence, Italy)

Signature verification using a Siamese time delay neural network (1994)
Bromley, Jane M.; Guyon, Isabelle; LeCun, Yann; Sackinger, Eduard and Shah, Roopak
In : 7th Annual Neural Information Processing Systems Conference (29 Nov - 02 Dec 1993, Denver) (pp. 737-744)

An analog neural network processor and its application to high-speed character recognition (1991)
Boser, Bernhard E.; Säckinger, Eduard; Bromley, Jane; LeCun, Yann; Howard, Richard E. and Jackel, Lawrence D.
In : IJCNN-91- International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (8-14 Jul 1991, Seattle, WA, USA) (pp. 415-420)

A neural network approach to handprint character recognition (1991)
Jackel, L. D.; Stenard, C. E.; Baird, H. S.; Boser, B.; Bromley, J.; Burges, C. J. C.; Denker, J. S.; Graf, H. P.; Henderson, D.; Howard, R. E.; Hubbard, W.; leCun, Y.; Matan, O.; Pednault, E.; Satterfield, W.; Säckinger, E. and Thompson, T.
In : Compcon Spring'91 (25 Feb - 1 Mar 1991, San Francisco, CA, USA) (pp. 472-475)

Functional mapping of stimulus colour in human subjects suffering a central visual defect (1987)
Alkhateeb, Wafa; Bromley, Jane; Javadia, Atafeh and Ruddock, K. H.
In : Physiological Society Meeting, Imperial College London (13-14 Feb 1987, Imperial College London) (p 44)

Pattern discrimination in a human subject suffering visual agnosia (1986)
Bromley, J. M.; Humphreys, G. W.; Javadnia, A.; Riddoch, M. J. and Ruddock, K. H.
In : Physiological Society (25-26 Mar 1986, London) (67P)

Abnormal prolongation of visual sensations in a human subject (1985)
Blythe, I. M.; Bromley, J. M.; Kennard, C. and Ruddock, K. H.
In : Physiological Society, St. Andrews Meeting (14-15 Jun 1985, St. Andrews, Scotland, UK) (p 20)

Neural-Network and k-Nearest-neighbor Classifiers (1991-08-19)
Bromley, J. and Sackinger, E.
AT&T Bell Laboratories