Robin Milner

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Robin Milner
Born Arthur John Robin Gorell Milner
(1934-01-13)13 January 1934
Yealmpton, Plymouth, England
Died 20 March 2010(2010-03-20) (aged 76)
Cambridge, England
Fields Computer science
Doctoral advisor None, as Milner never did a PhD[1]
Doctoral students George Milne
Avra Cohn
Raymond Aubin
Mike Sanderson
Alan Mycroft
Luis Damas
Brian Monahan
Kevin Mitchell
Kim Larsen (1986)
Mads Tofte (1988)
K.V.S. Prasad (1989)
Faron Moller
Dave Berry
Chris Tofts
Peter Sewell
Davide Sangiorgi (1993)
David N. Turner (1995)
Alex Mifsud
James J. Leifer (2001)[2]
Known for
Notable awards

Arthur John Robin Gorell Milner FRS FRSE (13 January 1934 – 20 March 2010), known as Robin Milner or A. J. R. G. Milner, was a British computer scientist, and a Turing Award winner.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Life, education and career[edit]

Milner was born in Yealmpton, near Plymouth, England into a military family. He was awarded a scholarship to Eton College in 1947, and subsequently served in the Royal Engineers, attaining the rank of Second Lieutenant. He then enrolled at King's College, Cambridge, graduating in 1957. Milner first worked as a schoolteacher then as a programmer at Ferranti, before entering academia at City University, London, then Swansea University, Stanford University, and from 1973 at the University of Edinburgh, where he was a co-founder of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS). He returned to Cambridge as the head of the Computer Laboratory in 1995 from which he eventually stepped down, although he was still at the laboratory. From 2009, Milner was a SICSA Advanced Research Fellow and held (part-time) the Chair of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh.

Milner died of a heart attack on 20 March 2010 in Cambridge.[4][10] His wife, Lucy, died shortly before him.


Milner is generally regarded as having made three major contributions to computer science. He developed LCF, one of the first tools for automated theorem proving. The language he developed for LCF, ML, was the first language with polymorphic type inference and type-safe exception handling. In a very different area, Milner also developed a theoretical framework for analyzing concurrent systems, the calculus of communicating systems (CCS), and its successor, the pi-calculus. At the time of his death, he was working on bigraphs, a formalism for ubiquitous computing subsuming CCS and the pi-calculus.[11] He is also credited for rediscovering the Hindley–Milner type system.

Honors and awards[edit]

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1988 and received the ACM Turing Award in 1991. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the ACM. In 2004, the Royal Society of Edinburgh awarded Milner with a Royal Medal for his "bringing about public benefits on a global scale". In 2008, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering for "fundamental contributions to computer science, including the development of LCF, ML, CCS, and the pi-calculus." [1]

Selected publications[edit]

See also: Publications by Robin Milner in DBLP


  1. ^ Interview with Robin Milner by Martin Berger.
  2. ^ Robin Milner at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Milner, R. (1993). "Elements of interaction: Turing award lecture". Communications of the ACM. 36: 78–89. doi:10.1145/151233.151240. 
  4. ^ a b Obituary — Professor Robin Milner: computer scientist, The Times, 31 March 2010.
  5. ^ Hoffmann, L. (2010). "Robin Milner: the elegant pragmatist". Communications of the ACM. 53 (6): 20. doi:10.1145/1743546.1743556. 
  6. ^ Milner, R. (1987). "Is Computing an Experimental Science?". Journal of Information Technology. 2 (2): 58–66. doi:10.1057/jit.1987.12. 
  7. ^ Cambridge University - Obituary
  8. ^ Milner's Cambridge homepage
  9. ^ Robin Milner author profile page at the ACM Digital Library
  10. ^ Newsgroup message informing on Milner's death.
  11. ^ Milner, Robin. "The Bigraphical Model". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 7 November 2009. Bigraphs [...] are proposed as a Ubiquitous Abstract Machine, playing the foundational role for ubiquitous computing that the von Neumann machine has played for sequential computing. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]