COMPUTING LABORATORY

Annual Report 1964-5

  1. New Developments

    The Mercury computer was finally dismantled in March 1965, after running in parallel with the KDF9 during some three months breaking-in period for this new machine. Since that date the laboratory has occupied part of the old Engineering Laboratory, and enjoys the advantages of a larger computer room and better facilities for programme and data preparation.

    A request for a grant to extend the size of the core store to 32.000 words, and for three more magnetic tape units, was accepted by the University Grants Committee at Christmas 1964, and further extensions were forecast as a result of the report of the Flowers' Committee.

    A research grant was negotiated with the Science Research Council for a new unit to study the mathematical theory of programming languages and allied matters, and the first members of staff are expected in April 1966. The leader is Dr. C. Strachey. The group will be housed in part of 45 Banbury Road, when the present occupants move into the new Mathematical Institute.

    For the second year of the Diploma in Advanced Mathematics, seven candidates were accepted for study with Numerical Analysis as special subject.

  2. Staff

    Mrs. E. Chin, formerly 'chief computor', resigned in June 1965, and her duties, now more extensive with the new equipment, were taken over by new members Mrs. A. P. Holbrook and Miss M. Hancock. Two extra assistants were also appointed at this time with the approval of the General Board.

    Miss L. Constable was appointed to the post of Departmental Research Assistant, replacing Dr. C. E. Phelps, who was promoted to Senior Research Officer.

  3. Research Fellows, Visitors, and Students

    Dr. T. Howard-Hill was granted a Research Fellowship by the ATLAS Laboratory. Chilton, to study computer techniques for the analysis of Shakespearian texts, and Mr. J. H. Holbrook was appointed to a similar Fellowship to assist Dr. J. S. Rollett in the compilation and exchange, between different machines, of a collection of programmes for the analysis of crystal structures.

    Dr. M. R. Osborne, of the Edinburgh University Computing Unit, gave a colloquium on the 'Numerical integration of a class of differential equations', and Professor G. Dahlquist, of the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, talked on 'the trapezoidal method for ordinary and partial differential equations'.

    Mr. J. C. Mason was awarded the Degree of D.Phil., and Mr. R. Sankar, from India, and Mr. S. Mahmood, from Pakistan, were accepted as D.Phil. students.

  4. The Computing Service

    The final Mercury balance sheet shows that the machine performed almost exactly 36,500 hours, an average of sixteen hours per day, seven days a week, for six years, shared as follows with figures representing percentages of total time:

    Physics (17.88), Chemical Crystallography (15.26), Computing Laboratory (11.78), other Oxford University departments (16.64), programme testing (7.52), other universities (3.70), commercial firms (9.18), miscellaneous (0.69), routine maintenance (12.44), and faults (4.91).

    From 1 April to 31 July 1965, the KDF9 was operated on a one-shift basis, with a few extra unmaintained hours. It is too early to assess properly the new distribution, but there is evidence that nuclear physicists can make effective use of the larger store, more departments are beginning to use the machine, and the fault-time is only one-tenth of that of Mercury. There has so far been no 'other university' use, and the work for commercial firms has declined to a trickle.

    Problems too big for KDF9, or written in a language unacceptable to this machine, are sent to the ATLAS Laboratory at Chilton, where one-third of the ATLAS time is available without charge for universities. The new Imperial College IBM 7090 machine is also used by 'participating institutions', at a small fee. It is interesting to note that on the average this University's use of both these extra facilities exceeds that of other universities. There can be no doubt about the large amount of computing time needed at Oxford.

  5. Lectures

    Lectures were given by Professor L. Fox (24 for Mathematical Moderations, 8 for engineering research students on computing techniques). Dr. D. F. Mayers (32 for Mathematics Finals). Dr. D. C. Handscomb (8 on 'approximation' for mathematical graduates). Dr. C. E. Phelps (ALGOL three-day courses, one in each vacation); and these members also shared 16 lectures on 'Computing techniques for scientists'.

  6. Publications

    L. FOX. ‘Numerical methods for Arch Dams.’ Theory of Arch Dams (ed. J. R. Rydzewski), pp. 169-87, Pergamon, 1965.

    -- Introduction to numerical linear algebra. O.U.P. (American edition, with exercises), 1965.

    J. S. ROLLETT (Ed.). Computing methods in crystallography. Pergamon, 1965.

    -- (with W. C. Hamilton and R. A. Sparks). 'On the relative scaling of X-ray photographs.' Acta. Cryst. vol. 18, p. 129, 1965.

    D. C. HANDSCOMB. ‘Remarks on a Monte Carlo integration method.’ Num. Math. vol. 6, pp. 261-8, 1964.

    J. C. MASON. ‘Rational approximation to the ordinary Thomas-Fermi function and its derivatives.’ Proc. Phys. Soc. vol. 84, p. 357, 1964.

Committee

Professor C. A. Coulson (Chairman), Professor G. E. Blackman, Professor H. M. Powell (succeeding Professor J. W. Linnett), Dr. N. T. J. Bailey, Dr. D. ter Haar, Mr. E. F. Jackson, Professor L. Fox (Secretary).