Roger Mitton's Home Page

(photo circa 1997)


I was brought up in Morecambe, Lancashire. I studied classics at The Royal Grammar School, Lancaster and then Psychology and Philosophy at Merton College, Oxford, where I graduated in 1968. After a year at Stanford University, California, studying philosophy, I returned to London to help write the story of a community development project in Notting Hill, which I had got to know during a gap year as a Community Service Volunteer. I then did various pieces of social research and spent some months teaching English in Paris before going to Africa where I spent a term as an English teacher in Botswana and then three years as deputy director of the Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre. On returning to London in 1977 I was in charge of a European study of income support for the unemployed. It was while supervising the analysis of the data from this study that I became interested in computers and I took the Diploma in Computer Science at Birkbeck. I combined part-time work in computing with part-time study for a few years before joining this department, first as a research assistant and then, in 1986, as a lecturer. In 1989 the Diploma was superseded by the MSc Computing Science, of which I became course director and remained so until 2005. I retired from Birkbeck in 2012 but retain some connection as a visiting research fellow.


The main topic of my research has been spellchecking, more specifically the development of a spellchecker that can make good guesses about the words that the writer intended, even when the writer's spelling is poor. The products of my work include a computer-usable dictionary, a collection of spelling errors culled from many sources, a prototype spellchecker, a PhD thesis, a number of papers and a book (see below under Publications). I gave copies of the first two items - the dictionary and the error collection - to the Oxford Text Archive.

If you are interested in spellchecking, you might like to read a chapter in the Routledge Handbook of the English Writing System (2016), entitled simply "Spellcheckers" (see below under Publications).

If you are doing research into spellchecking yourself, you might want to download a corpus of spelling errors.


My principal contribution to the department's teaching was a C++ programming module, which was taken mainly by students on the MSc/PGDip Computer Science. (See C++ notes.)


Almost all of my publications - some connected to computing, others not - are available from Birkbeck ePrints. (Key in Roger Mitton as the search term.)

Contact information

School of Computer Science and Information Systems
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX