Thursday, 8 August 2013

Introducing Brian Randell

I'm happy to say that our definition of science also includes computing science. You can't really talk about the history of computing science without getting into Bletchley Park - which, by the way, is an amazing place to visit and one of the few places where it's essential to go on the tour. Every member of staff has a real passion for the place and it makes the experience really cool. Brian Randell's work rediscovering the Colossus and the work at Bletchley Park during World War II are the topic of not one but two comics - including a brilliant cypher puzzle comic by Paul Thompson and a comic featuring Brian himself drawn by Sigmund Reimann with words adapted from Uncovering Colossus by Alexi Conman - A Colossal Achievement. Let's have Brian speak for himself:

I graduated in Mathematics from Imperial College, London in 1957 and joined the English Electric Company where I led a team that implemented a number of compilers, including the Whetstone KDF9 Algol compiler. From 1964 to 1969 I was with IBM in the United States, mainly at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, working on operating systems, the design of ultra-high speed computers and computing system design methodology. I then became Professor of Computing Science at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where in 1971 I set up the project that initiated research into the possibility of software fault tolerance, and introduced the "recovery block" concept. Subsequent major developments included the Newcastle Connection, and the prototype Distributed Secure System. An at times very active side activity has been the history of computing, one high point of which was the “discovery” of the Colossus computer, developed for code-breaking at Bletchley Park during World War II. I have been Principal Investigator on a succession of research projects in reliability and security funded by various UK and European agencies. I am now Emeritus Professor of Computing Science, and Senior Research Investigator, at Newcastle University.

My personal home page is at: http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/brian.randell/

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