Rod Burstall
BornNovember 1934 (1934-11) (age 89)
Liverpool, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
University of Birmingham
Known forCOWSEL (renamed POP-1), POP-2, NPL, Hope
AwardsACM SIGPLAN 2009 Programming Language Achievement Award
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Edinburgh
Doctoral advisorN. A. Dudley
K. Brian Haley[1]
Doctoral studentsThorsten Altenkirch
John Darlington
Mike Gordon
Conor McBride
J Strother Moore
Alan Mycroft
Gordon Plotkin
Don Sannella

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


Burstall studied physics at the University of Cambridge, then an M.Sc. in operational research at the University of Birmingham. 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 COWSEL (renamed POP-1) and POP-2, innovative programming languages developed at the University of Edinburgh around 1970, and later work with John Darlington on NPL and program transformation and with 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.

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

In 2009, he was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) SIGPLAN Programming Language Achievement Award.[6][7]



  1. ^ a b Rod Burstall at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Kerse, Eleanor (2002). "Ode to Rod Burstall". Formal Aspects of Computing. 13 (3–5). Springer Science+Business Media: 194. doi:10.1007/s001650200007. S2CID 917027.
  3. ^ "Rod Burstall's home page". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b 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". Association for Computing Machinery (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.((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)