Richard Connor

Richard Connor


  • KY16 9SS

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

PhD projects

Many topics in approximate search and locality sensitivity - best talk to me first!

Personal profile

Research interests

I am most interested in similarity search, which is the activity of finding objects, from within a collection, which are most similar to another object presented as a query. This requires a represention of the objects in a mathematical (metric) space, and a formally defined metric as a proxy for the real-world notion of similarity. That becomes really interesting when the objects are complex (eg images, video, etc) and the space is large - and by large we mean hundreds of millions, or maybe billions. If you know that a billion milliseconds is around ten days, you'll realise we need to do clever things to avoid an exhaustive search of the space!

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the difficult issues in this domain require research in high-dimensional abstract geometry. I am currently actively working in: subclasses of metric space, for example those with Ptolemaic or Hilbert properties; angle distribution in high-dimensional non-Euclidean spaces; approximate search and locality sensitivity; asymmetric permutation orderings, and, most recently, inverted indexes and decodable Bloom filters. I'd love to give a simple overview for the lay reader but, as it says on the mug, "I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that!"


I started my "Computational Science" degree in St Andrews in 1981. I stayed here until 1996... doing a BSc, a PhD (in Ron Morrison's research group), various research jobs, and an SERC Postdoc Fellowship. After that I held an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship at Glasgow, a chair at Strathclyde (including spells as Director of Research and Head of Department), moved to Stirling in 2018 to head up the Division of Mathematics and Computer Science, and returned to St Andrews in 2020. Outside academia I've been quite involved with the commercialisation of research - with Reuters, when it existed, and a couple of hi-tech startups - Engimatec (now defunct!) and Cloudsoft (still operating in Edinburgh). I have also been involved in school-level CS education, am a co-author of Education Scotland's computing curriculum, and am the technical validator for SQA computing qualifications.

Teaching activity

I teach CS4103, Distributed Systems, as well as various project supervision and first-year programming tutorials.

Profile Keywords

similarity and metric search, high-dimensional geometry, Hilbert spaces, dimensionality reduction

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Similarity search with multiple-object queries

    Connor, R., Dearle, A., Morrison, D. & Chávez, E., 2023, Similarity Search and Applications: 16th International Conference, SISAP 2023, A Coruña, Spain, October 9–11, 2023, Proceedings. Pedreira, O. & Estivill-Castro, V. (eds.). Cham: Springer, p. 223-237 15 p. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics); vol. 14289 LNCS).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    12 Downloads (Pure)
  • A Ptolemaic partitioning mechanism

    Connor, R., 28 Sept 2022, Similarity Search and Applications: 15th International Conference, SISAP 2022, Bologna, Italy, October 5–7, 2022, Proceedings. Skopal, T., Falchi, F., Lokoč, J., Sapino, M. L., Bartolini, I. & Patella, M. (eds.). Springer, Cham, p. 150-163 14 p. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science; vol. 13590).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
    11 Downloads (Pure)
  • Investigating binary partition power in metric query

    Connor, R., Dearle, A. & Vadicamo, L., 22 Aug 2022, SEBD 2022: proceedings of the the 30th Italian Symposium on Advanced Database Systems. Amato, G., Bartalesi, V., Bianchini, D., Gennaro, C. & Torlone, R. (eds.). Online: CEUR-WS, Vol. 3194. p. 415-426 12 p. (Italian Symposium on Advanced Database Systems; vol. 3194).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    1 Downloads (Pure)
  • On the expected exclusion power of binary partitions for metric search

    Vadicamo, L., Dearle, A. & Connor, R., 29 Sept 2022, Similarity search and applications: 15th International conference, SISAP 2022, Bologna, Italy, October 5–7, 2022, proceedings. Skopal, T., Falchi, F., Lokoč, J., Sapino, M. L., Bartolini, I. & Patella, M. (eds.). Cham: Springer, Cham, p. 104-117 14 p. (Lecture notes in computer science; vol. 13590).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
    3 Downloads (Pure)
  • BitPart: exact metric search in high(er) dimensions

    Dearle, A. & Connor, R., Jan 2021, In: Information Systems. 95, 14 p., 101493.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    9 Downloads (Pure)