July 5, 2022

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Richard Bird obituary | Computing

My mentor, colleague and good friend Richard Hen, who has died of most cancers aged 79, was a computer system scientist specialising in the mathematics of laptop programming. Instead of repeatedly getting and correcting bugs in a program until it appears to pass all checks, he argued for calculating the program from a specific specification of what it ought to do – just as just one calculates a quotient and remainder by prolonged division, alternatively than guessing and correcting an respond to.

Richard was born in London. His parents, Kay and Jack, have been publicans who ran the Rose in Northfleet in Kent, the Prince of Wales in Cleaver Sq., south London, then the Horseshoe and Wheatsheaf, in the vicinity of London Bridge. Richard attended St Olave’s grammar school in Southwark, then examined mathematics at Cambridge. Following a temporary spell doing the job in profits for Global Pcs and Tabulators, he started postgraduate research at the College of London Institute of Pc Science.

Richard took up a lectureship at the University of Looking at in 1972, shifting to the Programming Analysis Group at the University of Oxford in 1983. He stayed there during his career, currently being promoted to professor, serving as director, and lastly retiring in 2008.

His analysis location was useful programming – an strategy to computer programming next traditional mathematical conventions. It was self-obvious to him – in distinction to many – that applications are mathematical entities, manipulable just like in significant-faculty algebra.

In 1980 he began a very fruitful collaboration with Lambert Meertens from Amsterdam, producing what arrived to be regarded as the Chicken-Meertens Formalism, or “Squiggol” to its buddies.

Richard was identified around the globe for the clarity and wit of his crafting. He revealed about 100 scientific papers in his life time – not primarily prolific for a scientist, but just about every a single was remarkably polished. He also wrote or co-wrote seven guides, the most effective beloved of which is Introduction to Useful Programming (1988, with Phil Wadler), setting out his instructing vision.

He is also recognized for getting launched “functional pearls” – illuminating presentations of programming strategies. They are not just shorter variations of standard analysis papers: they may re-present regarded effects, but they experienced far better be “polished, elegant, instructive, entertaining”. Richard’s own producing epitomised them a colleague identified as him “the poet laureate of practical programming”.

But Richard was also beloved by colleagues, pupils, and departmental administrative staff for his openness, generosity and egalitarianism. He took me less than his wing as his doctoral college student when I arrived in Oxford devoid of a project, and I mainly owe him my complete vocation.

In addition to currently being quite perfectly read through, he was a film buff, and a keen player of bridge and poker. As a college student he performed the bongos, and in later life he took up the ukulele.

He fulfilled Norma Lapworth, a teacher, and later on an Ofsted inspector, at a birthday bash, and they had been married in 1967. She survives him, as does his young sister, Jackie.