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26 March 2024

Professor Alan Gibbons (1941-2024)

Tribute to Emeritus Professor Alan Gibbons PhD FBCS FRSA, who died in March 2024.

Prof Alan Gibbons

Alan Gibbons was Emeritus Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Informatics from 2007-2024.

He started his career in physics, before coming increasingly interested in computer science, particularly theoretical computer science, which allowed him to use his mathematical expertise to solve challenging problems.

Born in Oxford in 1942, he completed an undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Nottingham in 1964 before completing a PhD. in Theoretical Physics at the University of Warwick. During his doctoral studies, Professor Gibbons began using computers to solve the mathematical equations that underpinned his research.

After completing his studies, he remained at Warwick for 25 years, during which time his love for computer science developed - with a particular interest in solving problems such as graph colouring, data compression algorithms, randomised and probabilistic algorithms and nature-inspired models of combination.

He became an expert in combinatorics and algorithmics, writing two widely-regarded books – Algorithmic Graph Theory in 1986 and Efficient Parallel Algorithms in 1988. He also published widely in conferences and world-renowned journals during his long-standing academic career. 

Professor Gibbons spent five years as Professor of Computer Science and Head of Department of Computer Science at the University of Liverpool. In 2001 he moved to King's College London, with his PhD student Dr Paul Sant, and spent time as the Head of Department.

In 2007, he retired after five successful years at King’s and a significant career in academia. He became Professor Emeritus at King’s and an Honorary Professor at The University of Warwick.

After retirement, Professor Gibbons continued his love of problem solving, and remained research active for a number of years. He lived with his wife Kyoko in the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-water and rediscovered his love of golf and music. He spent many happy years walking, travelling and being a proud husband, father and grandparent.

Professor Gibbons' contributions to Theoretical Computer Science were significant and wide-ranging, reflecting both his boundless curiosity and his sense of fun. The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the NMES community are with Professor Gibbons' family, colleagues, collaborators, and friends.