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Professor Iain Stewart


Professor in the Department of Computer Science


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I am a Professor in the Department of Computer Science. I read mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford (1980-83) before completing my PhD in mathematics at Queen Mary College, University of London (1983-86). I was then appointed to a Lecturership in the Computing Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1986 before moving to a Lecturership in the Department of Computer Science, University of Wales Swansea in 1992. I was later appointed Senior Lecturer (1994) and then Reader (1995) before becoming Professor of Computer Science at Leicester in 1996. I moved to the Department of Computer Science at Durham as Professor in 2002.

Whilst at Leicester, I was Head of the School of Mathematics and Computer Science from 1999-2002 and at Durham I have twice been Head of Computer Science: from 2003-2006 and for 6 months in 2008. I was Director of Research for the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences from 2011-2014 (there was a joint school 2009-2017) but as of 2017 the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences is no more with the Department of Computer Science reconstituted. I was Director of Research for the new department from 2019-2021.

I was a Computer Science and Informatics Panel Member of HEFCE’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) in REF 2014 and again in REF 2021. REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

I have been a Member of UK Computing Science Research Committee (UKCRC) since 2002 and was a Member of the Executive Committee 2004-2007. As of October 2013, I rejoined the Executive Committee before standing down at the end of my term in 2016. UKCRC is an expert panel of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the British Computing Society (BCS), and aims to promote the vitality, quality and impact of Computing Research in the UK.

I have served the London Mathematical Society (LMS) for some years having been: a Member of LMS Computer Science Committee 1996-99 and Chair 1999-2002; a Member of LMS Publications Committee 1997-99; and a Member of LMS Council 1997-1999. I was also Coordinator of the joint LMS/EPSRC Mathematics for IT (MathFIT) initiative 2000-2002. As of November 2013, I resumed LMS service and was elected to LMS Council. I also joined the Computer Science Committee in February 2014. In January 2015 I became Programme Secretary, chairing (the now defunct) Programme Committee. I stepped down from Council and from being Programme Secretary in November 2018 and from chairing the Society Lectures and Meetings Committee (SLAM) in November 2019. The LMS was founded in 1865 and is the major UK learned society for Mathematics.

The BCS Academy of Computing is a learned society dedicated to advancing computing as an academic discipline. The Academy mission is to advance the creation, study and application of knowledge in computing for the benefit of society. I was a Member of BCS Academy Board, which is the most senior committee within the Academy, before resigning in 2016. I am also a Fellow of the BCS.

In deciding how best to meet the needs of peer review of research proposals, the EPSRC established a college of experts, nominated by those active in the research field concerned, to provide a broadly based community from which to obtain peer review advice. I am a member of the EPRSC Peer Review College and have been since its inauguration.

The Computer Journal was established in 1958 and is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the BCS. It is split into four sections and publishes research papers in a full range of subject areas, as well as regular feature articles and occasional themed issues. The journal provides a complete overview of developments in the field of Computer Science. I have been an Associate Editor for some years but in January 2014 I became Section Editor of Section A: Computer Science Theory, Methods and Tools. I stood down at the end of 2021.

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A was founded in 1660 and is the world’s first scientific journal. It publishes high quality theme issues on topics of current importance and general interest within the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences. As of January 2017, I joined its Editorial Board.

I was a member of the Advisory Board of the Springer book series Undergraduate Topics in Computer Science (UTICS) for many years before standing down at the end of 2021.

I have previously been: President of the British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS); President of the European Association for Computer Science Logic (EACSL); an editorial board member of the (now defunct) Journal of Discrete Algorithms (as published by Elsevier); and an editor of the (now defunct) LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics (as published by CUP).

Research interests

  • computational complexity
  • finite model theory and descriptive complexity
  • graph theory and algorithms
  • group theory
  • interconnection networks for parallel and distributed computing
  • theoretical aspects of artificial intelligence


Chapter in book

Conference Paper

Journal Article

Supervision students