Rod Burstall's home page


I studied physics at Cambridge University, then did an MSc in operational research at Birmingham University, returning later to do a PhD. Meantime I worked in industry for three years, teaching myself to programme, originally on the IBM650. In 1961 I was fortunate to meet Peter Landin who taught me about functional programming, universal algebra and catagory theory, mostly in a London pub. From Peter and from Christopher Strachey I learned about programmming languages and their semantics.

I joined the staff of Edinburgh University in 1964 as a Research Fellow in Donald Michie's Experimental Programming Unit. In the early seventies I took part in the design of the POP2 programming language and in the Freddy robot project, becoming Professor of Artificial Intelligence. In the late seventies I to the Computer Science Department as Professor of Computer Science. I worked mainly on programming languages, their semantics and proof of program properties. Robin Milner , Matthew Hennessy and Gordon Plotkn and I set up the Laboratory for the Foundations of Computer Science as a research group within the CS Department; it is now part of the School of Informatics.I retired from Informatics in 2000 as Professor Emeritus.

Over the years I was very lucky to collaborate with excellent colleagues, post-docs and research students, notably Donald Michie, Robin Popplestone, Gordon Plotkin, Robin Milner, Gerard Huet, Joseph Goguen and Butler Lampson. In the early days John McCarthy was a great inspiration and Alan Robinson taught me about logic and computation.

I now spend some time in the School of Informatics, where I have a desk in room 2.20.

I live in Morningside, Edinburgh, but I spend several months each year in France.
My Edinburgh address is
    4/12 Belhaven Place, Edinburgh EH10 5JN, Scotland UK
In France
    Lageas 87700 St Yrieix - sous-Aixe

My main interest is practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism, as a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I was originally a student of his father Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I have a house in France is near Dechen Choling, a meditation centre for the Shambhala Buddhist organisation.

My technical interests include programming languages, logic languages and applications of category theory to these. I am also interested in the semantics of natural languages. I am not writing anything for publication but enjoy talking to people.

My late wife Sissi (Seija-Leena Ihalainen) should have ninety five per cent of the credit for any thing I have achieved. Our daughter Kaija who died in 1994 remains a huge inspiration, as do our younger daughters Taru, living in Catalonia, Spain, and Taina who lives at Heriot near Edinburgh with our granddaughters Larissa and Alexandria.

Here is a list of my publications.. I have a personal web page. My email address is available on the Informatics web site. My official first name is Rodney (after the admiral of that name) but I am known as Rod.