Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the British Computer Society (BSC)


  As requested when we gave evidence to the Committee on 12 June, we have investigated the difference between the BCS' and the Royal Society's statements on the number of computing Fellows of the Royal Society. The attached list is the result of a search through the list of Fellows on the Royal Society's website. Even getting up to 20 has required us to be rather generous in the definition of the scope of computing including, for example, someone working in nanotechnology. We realise that our manual search of 1200 names is error prone, so we may have missed some people working in our field, but we would be surprised if we have missed 30. However, we would be very happy to review and comment on the Royal Society's list of 50 Fellows, if that would help you.

  We think it is to the advantage of the Society, the computing community, and the government to encourage the Royal Society to find ways of accelerating the growth of its Fellowship in computing. Without a substantial change in the Fellowship we do not see how the Royal Society can give you authoritative advice in the field of computing.

  We can see several ways of assisting this process. Firstly, the BCS works with the Royal Academy of Engineering, making nominations for Fellowships each year. This has been effective in growing the number of computing Fellows in the Royal Academy. We would be happy to support the Royal Society in a similar way.

  Secondly, we note that the Royal Society of Edinburgh realised some years ago that it had poor representation in a number of disciplines, including computing, and found it necessary to introduce a new committee to deal with computing in its own right. Whilst it is not for us to say how the Royal Society should manage its internal affairs, it is hard to see how the situation will improve whilst it assesses computing from the standpoint of traditional engineering (committee 4) or mathematics (committee 1). The absence of a "pure" computing committee is perhaps all the more surprising as computing was second only to physics in the number of active researchers reported in the last RAE, ie it is the second biggest research community in the country.


  These are Royal Society Fellows whose core activity is in Computing. This includes three overseas Fellows, and one in nano-technology which must be considered the "periphery" of the discipline. Three are firmly in micro-electronics. Five or six are at the theoretical end of the discipline, the rest are more applied in their work, or are in more administrative positions.

  1.  Tim Berners-Lee

  2.  Michael Brady

  3.  Stephen Furber

  4.  Michael John Caldwell Gordon

  5.  Geoffrey Everrest Hinton, Toronto

  6.  Charles Antony Hoare

  7.  John Vincent McCanny

  8.  Michael David May

  9.  Arthur John Robin Gorell Milner

  10.  Roger Michael Needham

  11.  Professor Bernhard Hermann Neumann, Australia

  12.  Michael Stewart Paterson

  13.  Stuart Parkinson

  14.  Gordon David Plotkin

  15.  Martin Nicholas Sweeting

  16.  John Michael Taylor

  17.  Valiant Leslie Gabriel, USA

  18.  Mark Edward Welland (nanotechnology)

  19.  David John Wheeler

  20.  Maurice Wilkes

June 2002

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