Centre for Software Reliability

Staff Profile

Professor Brian Randell

Emeritus Professor, and Senior Research Investigator


My earliest work, during the period 1957-1964 while I was with English Electric, was on compilers. This led to the book: Algol 60 Implementation. (Co-author Lawford J. Russell). Academic Press, London, 1964.

I then joined the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N.Y. where, with an intervening year during 1965-66 in California, I worked on high performance computer architectures (the ACS Project), then on operating systems and system design methodology. During this time, and shortly after I returned to the UK in 1969 to became Professor of Computing Science at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, I was co-editor of the reports on the two NATO Software Engineering Conferences.

In 1971 I set up the project that initiated research into the possibility of software fault tolerance, and introduced the "recovery block" concept. Subsequent major developments included the Newcastle Connection, and the prototype Distributed Secure System. I have been Principal Investigator on a succession of research projects on system dependability funded by the Science Research Council (now Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), the Ministry of Defence, the European Strategic Programme of Research in Information Technology (ESPRIT), and the European Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme. Most recently I have performed the role of Project Director for CaberNet (the IST Network of Excellence on Distributed Computing Systems Architectures) and for two IST Research Projects, MAFTIA (Malicious- and Accidental-Fault Tolerance for Internet Applications) and DSoS (Dependable Systems of Systems). Subsequently I was involved with the RODIN IST project, and the ReSIST IST Network of Excellence.

My current computing science research continues to be focussed on Dependability (for example on failure analysis - in the EPSRC-funded UNCOVER Project, on which I was a co-investigator) and, to a lesser extent, on the History of Computing.

I was a founder-member of IFIP WG2.3 (Programming Methodology) and am a founder-member of IFIP WG10.4 (Dependability and Fault Tolerance). In 1979 I helped found MARI (Microelectronics Applications Research Institute) and in 1993 I was involved in setting up the Northern Informatics Applications Agency, both of which flourished and did some excellent work for a number of years. I am a Fellow of the BCS and of the ACM, and was a Member of the Conseil Scientifique of the CNRS, France (2001-5), and Chairman of the IEEE John von Neumann Medal Committee (2003-5), and was first a Member and then Chairman of the ACM A.M. Turing Award Committee (2005–09).

I was an active member of the group of twenty-three academics who, in April 2006, became concerned by what we had learned of the plans, progress, reported difficulties and controversies surrounding the UK National Health Service's National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT). From then until September 2010 I edited the evolving Dossier that was produced documenting our growing concerns about the Programme. 

The University Library now holds a sizeable archive of my professional activities and correspondence, 1950-2009. The fully catalogued materials are now available via a profile webpage on the Library website.

Note: while the University's new "official" listing of my publications is being completed, my own listing is at http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/brian.randell/Publications.html 

Google Scholar: Click here.

Area of expertiseSystem Dependability, History of Computing