Jump to content

Gordon Plotkin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gordon Plotkin
Plotkin in 2005
Gordon David Plotkin

(1946-09-09) 9 September 1946 (age 77)[8]
Glasgow, Scotland
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

Gordon David Plotkin, FRS FRSE MAE (born 9 September 1946)[8] 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.[9][10] He has contributed to many other areas of computer science.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17]


Plotkin was educated at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh, gaining his Bachelor of Science degree in 1967[8] and PhD in 1972[2] supervised by Rod Burstall.[1]

Career and research[edit]

Plotkin has remained at Edinburgh, and was, with Burstall and Robin Milner, a co-founder of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS).[18][19][20][21] His former doctoral students include Luca Cardelli,[3] Philippa Gardner,[4] Doug Gurr,[5] Eugenio Moggi,[6] and Lǐ Wèi.[7][1]

Awards and honours[edit]

Plotkin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1992, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)[when?] and is a Member of the Academia Europæa[22] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[23] 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."[24] His nomination for the Royal Society reads:

Plotkin has contributed to Artificial Intelligence, Logic, Linguistics and especially to Computer Science. In AI he worked on hypothesis-formation and universal unification; in Logic, on frameworks for arbitrary logics; in Linguistics, on formalising situation theory. His main general contribution has been to establish a semantic framework for Computer Science, especially programming languages. Particular significant results are in the lambda-calculus (elementary models, definability, call-by-value), non-determinism (powerdomain theory), semantic formalisms (structured operational semantics, metalanguages), and categories of semantic domains (coherent, pro-finite, concrete). Further contributions concern the semantic paradigm of full abstraction, concurrency theory (event structures), programming logic and type theory.[25]

In 2013 he received a honorary doctorate from the University of Bath.


  1. ^ a b c Gordon Plotkin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ a b Plotkin, Gordon David (1972). Automatic methods of inductive inference (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/6656. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.482992. Free access icon
  3. ^ a b Cardelli, Luca (1982). An algebraic approach to hardware description and verification (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/13308. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.253190.
  4. ^ a b Gardner, Philippa (1992). Representing logics in type theory (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/14888. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.651333. Free access icon
  5. ^ a b Gurr, Douglas John (1990). Semantic frameworks for complexity (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/13968. OCLC 475827463. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.651894. Free access icon
  6. ^ a b Moggi, Eugenio (1999). The partial lambda calculus (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/419.
  7. ^ a b Wèi, Lǐ (1983). An operational approach to semantics and translation for programming languages (PhD thesis). hdl:1842/6636.
  8. ^ a b c Anon (2013). "Plotkin, Prof. Gordon David". Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). Oxford: A & C Black. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U31011. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ Crary, Karl; Harper, Robert (2007). "Syntactic Logical Relations for Polymorphic and Recursive Types". Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science. 172: 259. doi:10.1016/j.entcs.2007.02.010.
  10. ^ Curien, Pierre-Louis (April 2022), Semantics and syntax, between computer science and mathematics (PDF), p. 2
  11. ^ Gordon Plotkin publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  12. ^ Gordon Plotkin author profile page at the ACM Digital Library
  13. ^ Gordon Plotkin publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Gordon D. Plotkin at DBLP Bibliography Server Edit this at Wikidata
  15. ^ 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. S2CID 1222153.
  16. ^ 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. hdl:1842/207. S2CID 13260508.
  17. ^ "Symposium for Gordon Plotkin". www.lfcs.inf.ed.ac.uk.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ A Structural Approach to Operational Semantics by G.D. Plotkin (1981)
  21. ^ Program Verification and Semantics: Further Work Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (2004)
  22. ^ Hoffmann, Ilire Hasani, Robert. "Academy of Europe: Plotkin Gordon". www.ae-info.org.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences".
  24. ^ "- Royal Society". royalsociety.org.
  25. ^ "EC/1992/29: Plotkin, Gordon David". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014.