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Prof Norman Fenton

Professor of Risk and Information Management

Research Interests

Full and current details of my research can be found on my home page.

My current research focuses primarily on quantitative risk assessment. This typically involves analysing and predicting the probabilities of unknown events using Bayesian statistical methods including especially causal, probabilistic models (Bayesian Networks). This type of reasoning enables improved assessment by taking account of both statistical data and also expert judgment. In April 2014 I was awarded one of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grants to focus on these issues.

My research involves developing both general purpose and application specific methods that enable non-experts to build and use models to solve real-world 'risk assessment' problems. This includes applications such as legal reasoning (I have been an expert witness in major criminal and civil cases), medical trials, vehicle reliability, embedded software, transport systems, financial services, media personalisation and football results prediction.  I have provided consulting to many major companies world-wide on these applications. I have a special interest in raising public awareness of the importance of probability theory and Bayesian reasoning in everyday life (including how to present such reasoning in simple lay terms) and  maintain a  also a blog and also a website dedicated to this. I have published 7 books and over 200 referred articles. My 2012 book was the first to bring Bayesian networks to a general audience.   Since June 2011 I have led an international consortium (Bayes and the Law) of statisticians, lawyers and forensic scientists working to improve the use of statistics in court. In 2016 I led a prestigious 6-month Programme on Probability and Statistics in Forensic Science at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge

In addition to my research on risk assessment, I have a long track record of work in software engineering (including pioneering work on software metrics); the new third edition of my book “Software Metrics: A Rigorous and Practical Approach” was published in November 2014.

Professional Highlights

Current And Recent

(for full details see

Professional Qualifications

  • Chartered Engineer, Member of the IET  (since 1987)
  • Chartered Mathematician, Fellow of the IMA (AFIMA 1988, FIMA 1998)
  • Fellow of the BCS (British Computer Society) since 2005
  • Completed Expert Witness Training with Bond Solon under the auspices of Cardiff University Law Dept (2007-2008)

External Positions/Affiliations

  • CEO of Agena Ltd, since 1997 (see
  • Director of the Bayes and the Law International Consortium, since 2011
  • External Assessor, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpar, Malysia, since Dec 2012
  • Scientific Committee, Knowledge Transfer Network Industrial Maths, since 2007
  • Affiliated Professor to the University of Haifa, Israel since 2007
  • Member of EPSRC Computing College  1994-2003, and 2005 to current
  • Editorial Board, e-Informatica   Software Engineering Journal,  since 2012
  • Editorial Board, Software Quality Journal, since March 1991.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Empirical Software Engineering,  1995-2005


  • My PhD student Lukasz Radlinski’s thesis 'Improved Software Project Risk Assessment Using Bayesian Nets' was awarded second prize in the Commission of  Master and Doctor Theses Competition, Scientific Society of Business Informatics. Sept 2009.
  • Our 2008 paper "Using Bayesian Networks to Predict Software Defects and Reliability" in the  Journal of Risk and Reliability was 'highly commended by the Editor and Editorial Board of the Journal" and was nominated for the Professional Engineering Publishing Prize.
  • Winner, Best Paper Award, ISAT 2007 (Information Systems Architecture and Technology), with Radlinski, Hearty and Marquez.
  • The Fenton and Neil paper "A critique of software defect prediction models" recognised as one of the most influential papers in its field based on number of citations (according to Essential Science Indicators)
  • International Patent (Publication Number WO 03/090466) for Improved TV Programme Selection (based on Bayesian Networks, Fuzzy Logic and an original approach to TV programme classification). 
  • Named as one of the world’s 15 top scholars (for the third time). Glass RL and Chen TY, "An assessment of Systems and Software Engineering scholars and institutions (1996-2000)", Journal of Systems and Software 59, 107-113, Oct 2001
  • Appointed Professor at City University at the age of 34.
  • ATM Flett prize for MSc, 1979
  • Top First Class Degree, University of London, 1978
  • School Scholar at LSE 1976-78
  • Winner of LSE Undergraduate Prize 1976, 1977

Key  assignments

  • Member of Advisory Group of the Forensic Science Special Interest Group (FoSci SIG) since Feb 2013
  • Expert adviser in the retrial of R v Gary Dobson and David Norris (the Stephen Lawrence case) 2011-21012. I advised the defence counsel on probabilistic issues relating to the DNA evidence. 
  • Expert adviser in the Appeal case of R v K (2012) Appeal. This was a youth convicted of involvement in the Croydon riots of the summer of 2012. I advised the defence counsel on probablistic issues.   
  • Expert adviser in an ongoing case (R v LW) – and potentially the most significant ever for Bayes and DNA – where I was asked to review the DNA evidence.
  • One of 15 UK academics invited to contribute to Home Office workshop on “Forecasting rare and extreme criminal events”, 12 June 2009. Following the workshop I prepared a report recommending a strategy for piloting the use Bayesian networks to support the Government's anti-terrorism PREVENT Programme. My recommendations were subsequently incorporated into the Programme.
  • Independent assessor of EU Project DEPLOY, April 2009.
  • Advised a major international reinsurance company on methods for modeling catastrophic events, Dec 2008-May 2009)
  • Expert witness (in Bayesian analysis/decision-making) for the claimant on a medical negligence case against the NHS.  (July-August 2008)
  • Expert witness on probabilistic risk analysis in the case of R vs Levi Bellfield at the Old Bailey (July 2007 – Feb 2008). My first report focused on the uncertainty relating to the vehicle identification in the case of the Marsha McDonnell murder. My second report highlighted a number of fallacies in the Prosecution Opening and was used as the basis for the Defence case. 
  • Contracted by the London Mathematical Society and the Smith Institute to produce the first in their series of Knowledge Transfer Reports. The subject was Bayesian Networks for Risk Assessment (2007)
  • Since 1998: continual development of the AgenaRisk software system, which is now a general-purpose risk assessment tool, with hundreds of users world-wide. Key clients include: RBC, ERA, QinetiQ, Motorola, Siemens, Orange, Philips, Israel Aircraft Industries, TNO (Holland). This work has also involved me managing dozens of individual software projects building bespoke systems (normally to do risk assessment of specific critical systems) for key clients
  • Jan-Aug 2006:  Expert witness (on software quality and risk assessment) on a major legal case involving safety critical software in the rail industry.  The case was settled shortly before coming to court and my expert report (of some 200 pages) was crucial in securing a favourable settlement for the party that had engaged me.
  • Since 2005 Working with Royal Bank of Canada (Toronto) to improve their risk assessment for critical IT Projects
  • Since 2001: Working with Motorola to develop models and software to achieve improved predictions of field reliability of hardware components.
  • 1999-2005: Worked with Philips (sites in Bangalore, Bruges, Eindhoven, and Redhill) to develop Bayesian net models and software for improved prediction of software defects in embedded electronics systems. The resulting models and software enabled Philips to achieve 95% accuracy in software defect prediction, giving them greater confidence in decisions for testing and release of components.
  • Since 2005 I have been Principal Researcher in the EPSRC project eXdecide that is developing models and software for controlling and predicting quality in agile software projects.
  • 2001-2004 I was Principal Researcher in the major collaborative Project MODIST (Models of Uncertainty and Risk for Distributed Software Development) that was part-funded by the EC and was concerned with improved predictions of quality in large distributed software projects. Partners were Agena, Israel Aircraft Industries, QinetiQ and Philips.
  • 2000-2003 I was Principal Researcher on the EPSRC/DTI project SIMP (Systems Integration for Major Projects). The key partner was BAe Systems, with whom I developed a model and software for assessing risk in one of their most critical projects.
  •  1999-2004 Worked with NATS (National Air Traffic Services) on numerous projects involving a) safety critical software assessment and b) improved risk prediction of flight management systems
  • 2000-2003 I was Principal Researcher on the EPSRC project SCULLY (Scaling up Bayesian Nets for Software Risk Assessment).
  • 2000-01 Worked with Railtrack to build a bespoke model and software system to predict whole-life safety and reliability of railway components.
  • 2002-2005 Worked with QinetiQ to build bespoke model and software system to predict whole-like military vehicle costs.
  • 1999-2003: Worked with QinetiQ to develop the revolutionary system TRACS which predicts military vehicle reliability. The system is still used routinely by QinetiQ for evaluating vehicle tender bids on behalf of the MOD.
  • 1998-2000: Worked with Siemens to assess software reliability in telephone switching systems


Recent Invited seminars and conference presentations

  • Invited Lecture "Legal Reasoning using Bayesian Networks", University College London, 20 March 2013, MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences
  • Invited Keynote "Software Quality: Uncertainty, Risk and Decision Making", IBM Quality Software Engineering Symposium, IBM Hursley, 27 Sept 2012
  • Invited Keynote  "Improving Legal Reasoning with Bayesian Networks", The Sixth European Workshop on Probabilistic Graphical Models (PGM2012), 19-21 Sept 2012, Granada, Spain
  • Invited Seminar "Bayes and the Law", University College London Centre for the Forensic Sciences, 21 March 2012
  • Invited presentation "Statistics and Bayesian reasoning ",  Crown Prosecution Service, Forensic Science Awareness Training, 9 March 2012
  • Invited presentation, "Potential for Bayesian reasoning in Digital Forensics", Digital Forensics Specialist Group , Home Office, 1 Feb 2012 
  • Invited presentation, " Improving Medical and Legal Decision-making with Bayes",  ImpactQM Advisory Board, Queen Mary University of London,  24 Nov 2011
  • Invited presentation, "Bayes and the Law", Royal Statistical Society  London (Working Group on Statistics and the Law), 28 September 2011
  • Invited Presentation, "Improving the presention of legal evidence using Bayesian Networks", International Centre for Criminological Comparative Research (ICCCR) Annual Conference, 7-8 July 2011, The Open University.
  • Invited Seminar, "Uncertainty, Risk and Decision Making", LDJM (London Judgement and Decision Making Society),  University College London, 28 April 2010
  • Invited Seminar, "Uncertainty, Risk and Decision Making", Sheffield University, 18 March 2010
  • Invited lecture: "Improving Medical Decision Making with Bayes", Discipline Bridging Initiative, Queen Mary, University of London, 18 November, 2009.
  • Invited Presentation "The Role and Future of Search Based Software Engineering", 1st International Symposium on Search Based Software Engineering. Windsor, UK, 13 May 2009
  • Invited seminar: "Probabilistic Risk Assessment", University of Westminster , Harrow Campus, 18 March 2009
  • Invited Webinar "10 Fallacies about Software Project Metrics", CAI and the IT Metrics & Productivity Institute 2008 Software Best Practices Webinar Series, November 13th, 2008
  • Invited keynote: "Bayesian Networks: Overview and Challenges", The Lighthill Risk Network Bayesian Networks Seminar, Lloyds, London, 22 October 2008
  • Invited Keynote: "Uncertainty, Risk and Decision Making", 3rd Biennial Beta Conference, Eindhoven University of Technology, 25 Sept 2008
  • Accepted Paper: "Avoiding Legal Fallacies in Practice Using Bayesian Networks",  Seventh International Conference on Forensic Inference and Statistics. 2008: Lausanne, Switzerland, 21-23 August 2008.
  • Invited Keynote: "The prosecution fallacy and other probabilistic fallacies occuring in trials", Society of Expert Witnesses Conference, Swindon, 16 May 2008
  • Invited seminar: "Bayes on Trial", City University Business School, Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance, 6 Feb 2008
  • Invited seminar: "Uncertainty, Risk and Decision Making", Birkbeck College University of London, 27 November 2007 
  • Invited Webinar "Using Metrics to Manage Software Risk", CAI and the IT Metrics & Productivity Institute  2007 Software Best Practices Webinar Series, 3 Oct 2007,
  • Invited presentation "Using Bayesian Networks to Predict Software Defects and Reliability", Mathematical Methods in Reliability (MMR 07), Glasgow 1-4 July 2007
  • Accepted conference presentation (with Marquez and Neil) "A new Bayesian Network approach to Reliability modelling", Mathematical Methods in Reliability", Mathematical Methods in Reliability (MMR 07), Glasgow 1-4 July 2007
  • Invited Keynote Presentation "New directions for software metrics" ICSE PROMISE Workshop, Minneapolis, 20 May, 2007
  • Accepted conference presentation "Project Data Incorporating Qualitative Factors for Improved Software Defect Prediction", ICSE PROMISE 2007, 20 May 2007
  • Invited video address "The Prosecutor's Fallacy", the Annual Conference of the Society for Expert Witnesses, Studley Castle, Warwickshire, 6-7 October 2006  and here is the film about legal reasoning in which my (heavily edited) interview is contained (this is a Quick Time file of about 6Mb and my interview is in the middle)
  • Keynote Presentation "New directions for Software Metrics" at The 2006 CIO Symposium on Software Best Practices, London 27 September 2006
  • Interview for IT Metrics and Productivity Institute Sept 2006
  • Invited presentation "Using Bayesian Nets to Predict Software Defects in Arbitrary Software Lifecycles", British Computer Society, Software Process Improvement Network,  BCS, London 23 Feb 2006
  • Invited seminar "Improved prediction of software defects", Brunel University, 8 Dec 2005
  • Invited Keynote presentation "Improved Software Risk Assessment at Philips", International Conference on Software Testing 2005, SQC, 28 Sept 2005, QE2 Conference Centre London
  • Conference presentation (with Martin Neil), “Improved software defect prediction”,  10th European SEPG, London, 14 June 2005
  • Invited presentation "Improved Software risk Assessment", Symbian, London, 5 May 2005
  • Invited Keynote presentation "Software Metrics: Improved Approach to Software Risk Assessment", Philips 9th International Software Process Improvement Workshop", Eindhoven, 12 April 2005


Recent Conference Organisation/Program Committees

·         Senior Program Committee, 2013 Uncertainty in AI Conference (UAI),, Bellevue, Washington, July 11th-15th 2013.

·         Program Committee of KKIO 2013 (XV Krajowa Konferencja Inżynierii Oprogramowania).15th National Conference on Software Engineering, Szczecin, Poland, 18-20 Sept 2013

  • Program Committee, 4th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence & Law (ICAIL 2013), Rome,  June 10-June 14, 2013

·         Program Committee, PAISE 2012, The Seventh Conference on Prestigious Applications of Intelligent Systems 29-30 August 2012, Montpellier, France

  • Program Committee, PROMISE 2011, 7th International Conference on Predictive Models in Software Engineering Banff, Canada, Sept 20-21, 2011 (Co-located with ESEM'11)
  • Program Committee, AIME'11 Workshop on Probabilistic Problem Solving in Biomedicine, July 2 2011, Bled, Slovenia
  • Program Committee, PROMISE 2010, The 6th International Conference on Predictive Models in Software Engineering, Co-located with ICSM'10, at Timisoara, Romania, Sept 12-13, 2010
  • Session Chair "Bayesian networks applications"  Seventh International Conference on Forensic Inference and Statistics. 2008: Lausanne, Switzerland, 23 August 2008.
  • Program Committee, 20th International Conference on Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering (SEKE 2008),  San Francisco, USA,  1-3July , 2008
  • Program Committee, IEEE International Workshop on Predictor Models in Software Engineering (PROMISE 2008) in conjunction with ICSE, Leipzig, Germany, May 2008
  • Program Committee, IEEE International Workshop on Predictor Models in Software Engineering (PROMISE 2007), in conjunction with ICSE, Minneapolis,   USA, May 2007
  • Program Committee, International Workshop on Predictor Models in Software Engineering (PROMISE 2006), in conjunction with ICSE, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania   USA, September 2006

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