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David Simplot-Ryl: "Discovering theoretical computer science led me into research"

David Simplot-Ryl © Inria David Simplot-Ryl, the head of the Inria Lille - Nord Europe centre

David Simplot-Ryl is a researcher, science officer and head of science at the Lille - Nord Europe centre. Every day he combines three roles, bringing to his work a passion that has been with him since childhood.

How would you distinguish between your three roles at Inria?

Being a researcher is a hands-on job. The other two roles are about making sure that everyone is working in good conditions and ensuring that progress is made in a particular field of research, which is fascinating. Our team works on small, portable, secure objects that are subject to very stringent constraints (communicating sensors, multiprocessor cards and RFID labels). We are trying to attain results as close as possible to those that would be provided by a supercomputer. I do a lot of supervising, but you have to keep doing a little bit of research, otherwise you lose your detailed knowledge.

What is your background?

After doing a normal undergraduate degree I went to engineering school, specialising in computer science, as I've been programming since I was ten years old. I was fascinated by it. I discovered theoretical computer science. The fact that functions exist that cannot be calculated by a computer is what motivated me to continue in this field with a specialist postgraduate diploma and a PhD. My post-doctoral experiences introduced me to RFID and, through my work with industrial players from the field, I was recruited by the LIFL (1) in a team which I then went on to manage.

What advice would you give?

You have to be motivated by an interest in computer science and a desire to be creative. I am lucky enough to work in a centre of development and to be creating things all the time, which gives me a reason to get up and come to work every morning.  You don't spend ten years in computer science for nothing. The only problem is it's sometimes difficult to stop…

(1) LIFL: Lille 1 University Computer Science Research Laboratory, a joint research unit and partner of Inria Lille - Nord Europe.

Keywords: Lille Supercomputer