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Richard Buckingham

Richard Arthur Buckingham FBCS FRSA (17 July 1911 – 13 August 1994) was an English mathematician and computer scientist, Professor of Computing Science and later of Computer Education in the University of London and Director of the Institute of Computer Science.

He was also a Fellow of the British Computer Society and of the Royal Society of Arts[1] and chaired the Technical Committee for Education (TC3) of the International Federation for Information Processing.[2] He was also the originator of the Buckingham potential formula.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Private life 3
  • Selected publications 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Buckingham was the son of George Herbert Buckingham, by his marriage to Alice Mary Watson King. He was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, and St John's College, Cambridge.[1]


After Cambridge, Buckingham's first academic post was at Queen's University, Belfast, where he was an assistant lecturer in Mathematical Physics from 1935 to 1938.[1] In 1938 he published a paper titled 'The classical equation of state of gaseous Helium, Neon and Argon', which proposed a formula which became known as the Buckingham potential.[3] The same year, he took up a new post as Senior 1851 Exhibitioner at University College, London, before serving in the Royal Navy's Admiralty Research Laboratory, Teddington, and in the Mine Design Department at Havant, from 1940 to 1945. After the Second World War, he became an academic of University College London, where he was a Lecturer in Mathematics (1945–1950), a Lecturer in Physics (1950–1951), and a Reader in Physics (1951–1957). From 1957 to 1973 he was Director of the University of London's Computer Unit, which during his tenure was renamed as the Institute of Computer Science.[1]

In 1962 the International Federation for Information Processing created a new Technical Committee for Education called TC3, the first ever international body dealing with computing and education, and in 1963 Buckingham was appointed to chair it. He commented "It was inevitable that education should come to the fore early in the development of IFIP". The first meeting took place in February 1964, in Paris.[2]

In 1963 Buckingham was appointed as Professor of Computing Science, and in 1974 as Professor of Computer Education, at Birkbeck College, London. On his retirement in 1978 he received the title of Professor Emeritus.[1]

Private life

In 1939 Buckingham married Christina O'Brien, and they had one son and two daughters. He died on 13 August 1994, when his published address was 21, Plainwood Close, Chichester, West Sussex.[1]

Selected publications

  • The Low-temperature Properties of Gaseous Helium: 2, 1941
  • Numerical Methods, 1957
  • Information Systems Education, 1987
  • Papers in Proceedings of the Royal Society, Proceedings of the Physical Society, Journal of Chemical Physics, Computer Journal, and others.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 'BUCKINGHAM, Prof. Richard Arthur', in Who Was Who (London: A & C Black), online edition by Oxford University Press, December 2012, accessed 18 January 2014
  2. ^ a b John Impagliazzo, History of Computing and Education 2 (HCE2): IFIP 19th World Computer Congress, WG 9.7, TC 9: History of Computing, Proceedings of the Second Conference on the History of Computing and Education, August 21–24, Santiago, Chile (2006), p. 8
  3. ^ R. A. Buckingham, 'The classical equation of state of gaseous Helium, Neon and Argon', in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 168 (1938); pp. 264-283

External links

  • Richard Arthur Buckingham at
  • . Richard Arthur Buckingham at
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