Rod Burstall

Rodney Martineau "Rod" Burstall FRSE (born 1934) is a British computer scientist and one of four founders of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh.[2]

Rod Burstall
BornNovember 1934 (1934-11) (age 85)
ResidenceScotland, France
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Edinburgh
Doctoral advisorN. A. Dudley
K. Brian Haley[1]
Doctoral studentsThorsten Altenkirch (1993)
Raymond Aubin (1976)
John Darlington (1972)
Martin Feather (1979)
Healfdene Goguen (1994)
Mike Gordon (1973)
Masahito Hasegawa (1997)
Thomas Kleymann (1998)
Zhaohui Luo (1990)
Michael Mendler (1993)
Conor McBride (1999)
James McKinna (1992)
J Strother Moore (1973)
Alan Mycroft (1982)
Gordon Plotkin (1972)
Randy Pollack (1995)
Brian Ritchie (1988)
David Rydeheard (1982)
Don Sannella (1982)
Makoto Takeyama (1995)
Rodney Topor (1975)


Burstall studied physics at the University of Cambridge, then an M.Sc. in operational research at Birmingham University. He worked for three years before returning to Birmingham University[3] to earn a Ph.D. in 1966 with thesis titled Heuristic and Decision Tree Methods on Computers: Some Operational Research Applications under the supervision of N. A. Dudley and K. B. Haley.[1]

Burstall was an early and influential proponent of functional programming, pattern matching, and list comprehension, and is known for his work with Robin Popplestone on POP, an innovative programming language developed at Edinburgh around 1970, and later work with John Darlington on NPL and David MacQueen and Don Sannella on Hope, a precursor to Standard ML, Miranda, and Haskell.[4]

In 1995, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[5].

Burstall retired in 2000, becoming Professor Emeritus, and now spends most of his time in Scotland and France.

In 2002 David Rydeheard and Don Sannella assembled a festschrift for Rod Burstall that was published in Formal Aspects of Computing.[4]

In 2009, he was awarded the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Language Achievement Award.[6][7]


  • May 1971: Programming in POP-11, Edinburgh University Press.
  • 1980: (with Alan Bundy) Artificial Intelligence: An Introductory Course, Edinburgh University Press.
  • 1988: (with D. E. Rydeheard) Computational Category Theory, Prentice-Hall, ISBN 978-0131627369.


  1. Rod Burstall at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. Kerse, Eleanor (2002). "Ode to Rod Burstall". Formal Aspects of Computing. 13 (3–5). Springer. p. 194. doi:10.1007/s001650200007.
  3. "Rod Burstall's home page". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  4. D. Rydeheard & Don Sannella (July 2002) "A Collection of Papers and Memoirs Celebrating the Contribution of Rod Burstall to Advances in Computer Science", Formal Aspects of Computing 13(3-5): 187–193 doi:10.1007/s001650200006
  5. "Professor Rodney Martineau Burstall FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  6. "SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award — 2009: Rod Burstall". ACM SIGPLAN. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  7. Wallace, Malcolm. "SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award: Rod Burstall". Vimeo. Retrieved 22 September 2012. Introduced by Philip Wadler.

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