Dr Andrew Colin

I was educated at Gordonstoun school, where I soon got used to a regime of cold showers and early morning runs. Eventually I escaped to Oxford, where I studied Engineering Science. The lectures were dull and required lots of note-taking, and I dropped them altogether after three weeks. Almost the only thing of value I learned was how to study from text books. In spite of rowing in one of the college boats, playing poker and drinking college port, I managed to get a class 1 degree, and went to to an assistant lectureship at Birkbeck College, where I co-invented the binary tree.

After a few years in London, where I wrote code for the Mercury and Atlas computers, I moved to the new university of Lancaster, where I was appointed Director of the Computer Laboratory. In those days computers had rather less power than a modern smartphone, but needed to be housed in large air-conditioned buildings. Personal computers didn't exist.

In 1970 I became the first professor of computer science at Strathclyde University, Microcomputers had just been invented, and I saw the potential of these machines at a time when most computer professionals regarded them as kids' toys. Nevertheless, I got a grant to buy 105 Commodore Pets, and used them to teach elementary programming to science and engineering students at the university. As one student remarked, "Now we know how to program; before, we just learned to copy each other's punched cards."

In 1984 or thereabouts, I and some colleagues started a software company. Colin Ross Malone Ltd. specialised in educational software. Our main interest was in simulation; We wrote the initial version of “Crocodile Chemistry”, an inorganic chemistry simulator marketed by Crocodile Clips Ltd., and widely used in schools.

Eventually retirement loomed. I couldn't settle into a gentle decline with golf and cruises to foreign places. All my life I have been consumed by intense curiosity about modern physics. I had read many popular books about quantum theory, and understood none of them. So I brushed up my mathematics at the Open University and started on a Ph.D. at Strathclyde, generously supported by my previous employers there. I now know that no-one else really understands quantum physics either - so that's alright then.

I love walking, and have collected nearly all the Munros, but alas! I have no head for heights, so the Inaccessible Pinnacle and the Aonach Eagach ridge are beyond me.

I am currently working with a group in the Physics Department of Strathclyde University, developing software for Free Electron Laser simulators. I have a special interest in designing a graphic interface for users of these simulators.

Contact details

Andrew Colin

Email: andrew@crm.scotnet.co.uk

Selected publications

On the Efficiency of a New Methed of Dictionary Construction, A.D.Booth and A.J.T.Colin; Information and Control 3, 327-334 (1960).

On-Line Access Systems in Statistics, A.J.T.Colin; Applied Statistics Vol XVI No.2 (1967).

The Lancaster University Operating System, A.J.T.Colin; Computer Bulletin Vol 12, No. 9 (1968). 

Implementation of STAB-1, A.J.T.Colin; Software Practice and Experience Vol 2 (1972). 

Sorting Trains, A.J.T.Colin, A.D.McGettrick and P.D.Smith; Computer Journal, Vol 23 No. 3 (1980).

Programmed discrimination of qbits with added classical information, S.M.Barnett, A.J.T.Colin and J Jeffers; Eur. Phys J . D 63, 463-472 (2011).

Programmed discrimination of multiple sets of qbits with added classical information, A.J.T.Colin; Eur. Phys. J. D 65 (2012).

Measurement-driven dynamics for a coherently-excited atom, S.M.Barnett, A.J.T.Colin and J Jeffers; Journal of Modern Optics 59, 1803-1815 (2012).


Introduction to Operating Systems, A.J.T.Colin (MacDonald/Elsevier, 1971).

Programming and Problem Solving in Algol 68, A.J.T.Colin (MacMillan Press, 1978). 

Programming for Microprocessors, A.J.T.Colin (Newnes-Butterworths, 1979).

Fundamentals of Computer Science, A.J.T.Colin (MacMillan Press, 1980).

Ph.D. Thesis:

Some Aspects of Measurement of Quantum Systems, Strathclyde University (2012).