Turing award winner dies

Turing Award Winner Robin Milner has died. He was 76.

According to the Daily Telegraph  Milner made three particularly significant contributions to the development of modern computing.

The first was Logic for Computable Functions (LCF), which helps programmers determine that their programs are correct, Standard ML which was a programming language used in the programs of modern computers and Calculus for Communicating Systems (CCS) which describes how computing processes interact.

He was born on January 13 1934 and won scholarships to Eton College and to King’s Cambridge, where he took a first in Mathematics after two years before turning to Philosophy.

After a brief run as a maths teacher he took a programming job at Ferranti and in 1963 he moved to a lectureship in mathematics and computer science at City University.

He took a research position at Swansea University in 1968, where he worked on ideas to make software correct and how to match a specification of what a program should do to what it actually does.

He moved to Stanford University as a researcher in 1971,before taking a lectureship at Edinburgh University. It was there that he invented CCS.

In 1995, he left Edinburgh to take up a Chair at Cambridge.

Recently, he was a key player in identifying the so-called Grand Challenge Projects for computer science in the 21st century.

He led work on the challenge of “ubiquitous computing” which was based on the idea that the future would be driven by silicon chips in every object.

Those looking at his career say that it was an extremely coherent body of work, with one idea naturally leading to another.

His research has had great influence on others, both direct and indirect and he received well-deserved recognition.

In 1987 he and his collaborators won the British Computer Society Technical Award for the development of Standard ML. In one year, 1988, he became a founder member of Academia Europaea; a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society; and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1991 he was accorded the accolade of the Turing Award. He also received 10 honorary doctorates, including those from the Universities of Aarhus, Bologna and Paris South.

His last work was a book published in 2009 about his theory of bigraphs. If it proves correct it could shape the way we formulate and think about large complex systems.

Milner’s wife Lucy died three weeks before him. He is survived by a son and a daughter. Another son predeceased him.