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Professor Alan Gibbons - (1941 - 2024)

Alan Gibbons, who died on Monday 4th March 2024 at the age of 82, was one of the founding academics of the Department Computer Science at the University of Warwick and was later an Honorary Professor of the University. Alan graduated in Physics from Nottingham University in 1964 and went on to complete a doctorate in Theoretical Physics at the University of Warwick in 1969. When the Department of Computer Science was formed in the late 1960s, its contribution to undergraduate programmes was, at first, solely to joint degrees with other science subjects. Alan was appointed to a lectureship as someone with experience of deploying computers to support his theoretical scientific research.


In 1974, the Department established an undergraduate BSc in Computer Science under the leadership of its founding professor, John Buxton. Alan was a member of the small team of academics who crafted the first computer science curriculum. The team had a range of perspectives on computing—software engineering, logic and foundations, programming principles, and applications. Alan’s interests initially lay in the core software techniques that lay behind the design and implementation of programming languages.


In the 1980s, Alan developed research interests in combinatorics and algorithmics, publishing two undergraduate textbooks, Algorithmic Graph Theory in 1985 and Efficient Parallel Algorithms in 1989. Members of the Department co-founded the British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) in 1985, and Alan was the second chairman, from 1992-1998. Over this period, he established research collaborations that played a pivotal role in his subsequent career. They included work on algorithmics with Paul Dunne (a former doctoral student in the Department who was supervised by Professor Mike Paterson) and with Professor Wojciech Rytter of the University of Warsaw. Another collaboration, on unconventional modes of computation, was with Martyn Amos, who obtained his doctorate on the topic of DNA Computation under Alan's supervision.


Alan moved on from the University of Warwick in 1995 to take up professorships at the University of Liverpool (1995-2000) and King's College London (2001-2007). However, he maintained his connections with Warwick University through his honorary professorship. As someone whose association with the University dated from its founding in 1965, Alan was an academic who always took a strong personal interest in the destiny of the University and the achievements of its students. He served for many years as the University's Senior Tutor and was a regular attendee at graduation ceremonies even after he had left the University.

Wed 24 Apr 2024, 16:00 | Tags: People