Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

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Computer Laboratory
University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.jpg
Former names
Mathematical Laboratory
Established14 May 1937 (14 May 1937)
Head of DepartmentProfessor Ann Copestake
Academic staff
Administrative staff
William Gates Building, Cambridge
United Kingdom

52°12′39″N 0°05′31″E / 52.210925°N 0.092022°E / 52.210925; 0.092022 (University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory)Coordinates: 52°12′39″N 0°05′31″E / 52.210925°N 0.092022°E / 52.210925; 0.092022 (University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory)

The Computer Laboratory is the computer science department of the University of Cambridge. As of 2007, it employs 35 academic staff, 25 support staff, 35 affiliated research staff, and about 155 research students. The current head of department is Professor Ann Copestake.


The Cambridge University Computer Laboratory was founded as the Mathematical Laboratory under the leadership of John Lennard-Jones on 14 May 1937, though it did not get properly established until after World War II. The new laboratory was housed in the North Wing of the former Anatomy School, on the New Museums Site. Upon its foundation, it was intended to provide a computing service for general use, and to be a centre for the development of computational techniques in the University. The Cambridge Diploma in Computer Science was the world's first postgraduate taught course in computing, starting in 1953.

In October 1946, work began under Maurice Wilkes on EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator), which subsequently became the world's first fully operational and practical stored program computer when it ran its first program on 6 May 1949. It inspired the world's first business computer, LEO. It was replaced by EDSAC 2, the first microcoded and bitsliced computer, in 1958.

In 1961, David Hartley developed Autocode, one of the first high-level programming languages, for EDSAC 2. Also in that year, proposals for Titan, based on the Ferranti Atlas machine, were developed. Titan became fully operational in 1964 and EDSAC 2 was retired the following year. In 1967, a full ('24/7') multi-user time-shared service for up to 64 users was inaugurated on Titan.

In 1970, the Mathematical Laboratory was renamed the Computer Laboratory, with separate departments for Teaching and Research and the Computing Service, providing computing services to the university and its colleges. The two did not fully separate until 2001, when the Computer Laboratory moved out to the new William Gates building in West Cambridge, off Madingley Road, leaving behind an independent Computing Service.

In 2002, the Computer Laboratory launched the Cambridge Computer Lab Ring, a graduate society named after the Cambridge Ring network.

On 30 June 2017, the Cambridge University Reporter announced that the Computer Laboratory would change its name to the Department of Computer Science and Technology from 1 October 2017, to reflect the broadened scope of its purpose and activities.[1]


The Computer Laboratory built and operated the world's first fully operational practical stored program computer (EDSAC, 1949) and offered the world's first postgraduate taught course in computer science in 1953. It currently offers a 3-year undergraduate course and a 1-year masters course (with an optional natural language processing theme). Recent research has focused on virtualisation, security, usability, formal verification, formal semantics of programming languages, computer architecture, natural language processing, wireless networking, biometric identification, routing, positioning systems and sustainability ("Computing for the future of the planet"). Members of the Computer Laboratory have been involved in the creation of many successful UK IT companies such as Acorn, ARM, nCipher and XenSource.



As of 2016 the lab employs 19 Professors:[2] Notable ones are

  1. Ross J. Anderson,[3] Professor of Security Engineering
  2. Alan F. Blackwell, Professor of Interdisciplinary Design
  3. Ann Copestake,[4] Professor of Computational Linguistics
  4. Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of Communications Systems
  5. John Daugman, Professor of Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  6. Andy Hopper,[5] Professor of Computer Technology
  7. Cecilia Mascolo, Professor of Mobile Systems
  8. Alan Mycroft, Professor of Computing
  9. Lawrence Paulson, Professor of Computational Logic
  10. Peter Robinson, Professor of Computer Technology

Other staff include Robert Watson and Markus Kuhn

Former staff[edit]

Former staff in the laboratory include:

Heads of the Computer Laboratory[edit]

The lab has been led by:

Achievements and innovations[edit]

Members of the computer laboratory have made impact in computers, Turing machines, microprogramming, subroutines, computer networks, mobile protocols, security, programming languages, kernels, OS, security, virtualisation, location badge systems, etc. Below is a list.

Impact on business enterprise[edit]

A number of companies have been founded by staff and graduates. Their names were featured in the new laboratory entrance in 2012.[13] Some cited examples of successful companies are ARM, Autonomy, Aveva, CSR and Domino. One common factor they share is that key staff or founder members are "drenched in university training and research".[14] The Cambridge Computer Lab Ring was praised for its "tireless work" by Andy Hopper in 2012, at its tenth anniversary dinner.[15]

Notable alumni (industries)[edit]

  • Demis Hassabis
  • Eben Upton
  • Bjarne Stroustrup
  • John Bates
  • Ian Pratt
  • Simon Crosby
  • David L Tennenhouse
  • Michael Burrows
  • Andrew Herbert
  • Andy Harter
  • Andy Hopper
  • References[edit]

    1. ^ "Notices by the General Board – Cambridge University Reporter 6473: Renaming of the Computer Laboratory". University of Cambridge. p. 753. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
    2. ^ "Academic staff in the Computer laboratory". University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015.
    3. ^ ANDERSON, Prof. Ross John. Who's Who. 2014 (online edition via Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
    4. ^ Ann Copestake publications indexed by Google Scholar
    5. ^ a b HOPPER, Prof. Andrew. Who's Who. 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
    6. ^ Hoffmann, L. (2010). "Robin Milner: the elegant pragmatist". Communications of the ACM. 53 (6): 20. doi:10.1145/1743546.1743556.
    7. ^ Hoare, T.; Wilkes, M. V. (2004). "Roger Michael Needham". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 50: 183. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2004.0014.
    8. ^ Martin Richards at DBLP Bibliography Server
    9. ^ Tait, J. I. (2007). "Karen Spärck Jones". Computational Linguistics. 33 (3): 289–291. doi:10.1162/coli.2007.33.3.289.
    10. ^ Campbell-Kelly, M. (2006). "David John Wheeler". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 52: 437. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2006.0030.
    11. ^ Campbell-Kelly, M. (2014). "Maurice Vincent Wilkes". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2013.0020.
    12. ^ url=""
    13. ^ Quested, Tony (24 February 2012). "Cambridge technology cluster thriving thanks to university dynamism". Business Weekly. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
    14. ^ Vargas, Lautaro (5 March 2012). "Cambridge University plans £30m VC fund and opens door to non-uni investment". Cabume. Cambridge. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
    15. ^ Quested, Tony (27 March 2012). "Gates no barrier to Bango enterprise". Business Weekly. Retrieved 28 March 2012.