March 23, 2023

Richard Bird obituary | Computing

Richard Bird obituary | Computing

My mentor, colleague and buddy Richard Hen, who has died of cancer aged 79, was a laptop scientist specialising in the arithmetic of pc programming. Rather of consistently obtaining and correcting bugs in a software until finally it appears to go all tests, he argued for calculating the program from a specific specification of what it need to do – just as one particular calculates a quotient and remainder by very long division, fairly than guessing and correcting an response.

Richard was born in London. His mothers and fathers, Kay and Jack, have been publicans who ran the Rose in Northfleet in Kent, the Prince of Wales in Cleaver Square, south London, then the Horseshoe and Wheatsheaf, in close proximity to London Bridge. Richard attended St Olave’s grammar school in Southwark, then studied arithmetic at Cambridge. After a temporary spell operating in profits for International Desktops and Tabulators, he began postgraduate analyze at the University of London Institute of Laptop or computer Science.

Richard took up a lectureship at the University of Examining in 1972, moving to the Programming Exploration Team at the College of Oxford in 1983. He stayed there in the course of his occupation, remaining promoted to professor, serving as director, and lastly retiring in 2008.

His investigate region was useful programming – an strategy to pc programming following conventional mathematical conventions. It was self-obvious to him – in contrast to many – that systems are mathematical entities, manipulable just like in high-faculty algebra.

In 1980 he started a extremely fruitful collaboration with Lambert Meertens from Amsterdam, creating what arrived to be acknowledged as the Bird-Meertens Formalism, or “Squiggol” to its good friends.

Richard was recognised around the world for the clarity and wit of his producing. He posted about 100 scientific papers in his life time – not in particular prolific for a scientist, but each one was hugely polished. He also wrote or co-wrote seven publications, the most effective liked of which is Introduction to Functional Programming (1988, with Phil Wadler), location out his educating eyesight.

He is also recognised for obtaining launched “functional pearls” – illuminating shows of programming concepts. They are not just shorter variations of normal analysis papers: they may well re-current recognised effects, but they experienced far better be “polished, stylish, instructive, entertaining”. Richard’s possess crafting epitomised them a colleague identified as him “the poet laureate of useful programming”.

But Richard was also liked by colleagues, students, and departmental administrative employees for his openness, generosity and egalitarianism. He took me beneath his wing as his doctoral university student when I arrived in Oxford with no a project, and I fundamentally owe him my whole vocation.

In addition to getting extremely properly browse, he was a film buff, and a eager participant of bridge and poker. As a college student he played the bongos, and in later on everyday living he took up the ukulele.

He satisfied Norma Lapworth, a instructor, and afterwards an Ofsted inspector, at a birthday social gathering, and they had been married in 1967. She survives him, as does his youthful sister, Jackie.