Gordon Plotkin

Gordon David Plotkin, FRS FRSE MAE (born 9 September 1946)[1] is a theoretical computer scientist in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Plotkin is probably best known for his introduction of structural operational semantics (SOS) and his work on denotational semantics. In particular, his notes on A Structural Approach to Operational Semantics were very influential. He has contributed to many other areas of computer science.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

Gordon Plotkin

At the MFCS 2005 conference
Gordon David Plotkinl

(1946-09-09) 9 September 1946[1]
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow (BSc)
University of Edinburgh (PhD)
Known forProgramming Computable Functions
Unbounded nondeterminism
Operational semantics
Domain theory
Scientific career
Computer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Edinburgh
Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science
School of Informatics
University of Glasgow
ThesisAutomatic methods of inductive inference (1972)
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students


Plotkin was educated at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh, gaining his Bachelor of Science degree in 1967[1] and PhD in 1972[3] supervised by Rod Burstall.[2]

Career and research

Plotkin has remained at Edinburgh, and was, with Burstall and Robin Milner, a co-founder of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS).[16][17][18][19] His former doctoral students include Luca Cardelli,[4] Philippa Gardner,[5] Doug Gurr,[6] Eugenio Moggi,[7] and Lǐ Wèi.[8][2]

Awards and honours

Plotkin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1992, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) and is a Member of the Academia Europæa.[20] He is also a winner of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. Plotkin received the Milner Award in 2012 for "his fundamental research into programming semantics with lasting impact on both the principles and design of programming languages."[21] His nomination for the Royal Society reads:


  1. Anon (2013). "Plotkin, Prof. Gordon David". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U31011. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. Gordon Plotkin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. Plotkin, Gordon David (1972). Automatic methods of inductive inference (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/6656. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.482992.
  4. Cardelli, Luca (1982). An algebraic approach to hardware description and verification (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/13308. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.253190.
  5. Gardner, Philippa (1992). Representing logics in type theory (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/14888. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.651333.
  6. Gurr, Douglas John (1990). Semantic frameworks for complexity (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/13968. OCLC 475827463. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.651894.
  7. Moggi, Eugenio (1999). The partial lambda calculus (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/419.
  8. Wèi, Lǐ (1983). An operational approach to semantics and translation for programming languages (PhD thesis). hdl:1842/6636.
  9. Gordon Plotkin publications indexed by Google Scholar
  10. Gordon Plotkin author profile page at the ACM Digital Library
  11. Gordon Plotkin publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  12. Gordon D. Plotkin at DBLP Bibliography Server
  13. Mitchell, J. C.; Plotkin, G. D. (1988). "Abstract types have existential type". ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems. 10 (3): 470. doi:10.1145/44501.45065.
  14. Abadi, M. N.; Burrows, M.; Lampson, B.; Plotkin, G. (1993). "A calculus for access control in distributed systems" (PDF). ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems. 15 (4): 706. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/155183.155225.
  15. "Symposium for Gordon Plotkin". www.lfcs.inf.ed.ac.uk.
  16. Plotkin, G. D. (1975). "Call-by-name, call-by-value and the λ-calculus". Theoretical Computer Science. 1 (2): 125–159. doi:10.1016/0304-3975(75)90017-1.
  17. Plotkin, G. D. (2004). "The origins of structural operational semantics". The Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming. 60-61: 3–15. doi:10.1016/j.jlap.2004.03.009.
  18. A Structural Approach to Operational Semantics by G.D. Plotkin (1981)
  19. Program Verification and Semantics: Further Work Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (2004)
  20. Hoffmann, Ilire Hasani, Robert. "Academy of Europe: Plotkin Gordon". www.ae-info.org.
  21. "- Royal Society". royalsociety.org.
  22. "EC/1992/29: Plotkin, Gordon David". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014.
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