Simon Peyton Jones elected Fellow of the Royal Society
By Jessica Watkins, Writer, Microsoft
“The scientific endeavour is one of the crowning achievements of humankind, contributing to our culture and civilisation and to improving our quality of life”. The Royal Society
Simon Peyton Jones is known for many things – foremost his boundless enthusiasm, his pioneering work on functional programming languages and his inspirational approach to computer science education for the next generation.
Now, he can add another accomplishment to that list: Fellow of the Royal Society.
Being elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society is widely considered to be one of the very highest scientific honours, and Peyton Jones joins new fellows who have been elected from across the United Kingdom, along with those from international institutions in Germany and the United States.
Founded in 1660 by Charles II, the Society’s fundamental purpose is “to recognize, promote and support excellence in science, and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.”
Over the last 350 years, the Royal Society has played a key role in promoting science and the value of science around the world, and it has made it its mission to ensure that science plays a central role in cultural and economic life.
The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from, or living and working in, the UK and the Commonwealth. Past fellows and foreign members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Christopher Bishop, head of Microsoft’s Cambridge, UK, research lab, noted that Peyton Jones is both a leading scientist and an indispensable member of Microsoft’s research community.
“Simon is a major contributor to life in Microsoft Research’s Cambridge lab, and his infectious energy and enthusiasm seem boundless,” Bishop said.
Peyton Jones describes himself as “interested in the design, implementation and application of lazy functional languages. In practical terms, that means I spend most of my time on the design and implementation of the language Haskell. In particular, much of my work is focused around the Glasgow Haskell Compiler and its ramifications.”
After graduating from Trinity College Cambridge in 1980, Peyton Jones began his career in industry, going on to become a lecturer at University College London, then a professor at Glasgow University, before moving to Microsoft Research Cambridge in 1998.
His main research interest is in functional programming languages, their implementation and their application. He is perhaps most widely recognized as the key contributor to the design of the now-standard functional programming language Haskell, and as the lead designer of the widely used Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC).
Simon also is chair of Computing at School, the grassroots organization that was at the epicenter of the 2014 reform of the English computing curriculum, in which he played a pivotal role.
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, says: “Science is a way of understanding both the world around us and ourselves. It is one of the great triumphs of human achievement and has contributed hugely to our prosperity and health. Science will continue to play a crucial role as we tackle some of the great challenges of our time including food, energy, health and the environment. The scientists elected to the Fellowship are leaders who have advanced their fields through their ground breaking work. We are delighted to welcome them to the Royal Society.”