Emeritus Professor Peter King
In January 1970, Peter King became Birkbeck's first Professor of Computer Science and head of its then small department, giving it a new sense of direction.
In those days, computers were large and expensive and Birkbeck shared use of the University Computer Centre machine. There was considerable part-time student demand from graduates working as programmers and analysts, needing to know more of developing methods to which Peter was making pioneering contributions. Previously he was Director of the Computer Centre at Aberystwyth University, which he established in 1966, having been a lecturer there since 1962. Graduating in Mathematics in 1956 from the University of London, Peter then became a part-time postgraduate student at Birkbeck while working in industry. After experience of computer application in electrical engineering and in business administration, and gaining an MSc with a mark of distinction in Probability Theory and Statistics he moved to Aberystwyth. In 1986, after 16 years, Peter gave up the headship of the much expanded Birkbeck department, to focus on research in database management.
Financed by IBM and the SERC, his group normally comprised some five or six research students and assistants. Spread over a number of publications and 11 PhD theses, the results are now being brought together in a single publication.