School of Informatics

Phil Wadler elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

Professor Philip Wadler FRS Professor of Theoretical Computer Science at the School of Informatics, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He joins existing fellows from the School of Informatics: Jane Hillston, Alan Bundy, Peter Buneman, Wenfei Fan and Gordon Plotkin as well as notable past fellows: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Charles Babbage, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking.

Phil Wadler’s citation

Philip Wadler has advanced the theory and practice of programming languages. He introduced type classes, which solved a long-standing problem of how to provide ad hoc polymorphism (overloading) by unifying it with parametric polymorphism (generics). He introduced monads as a practical way to provide the convenience of computational effects without losing the benefits of equational reasoning. He introduced a widely-used model of Java (practice into theory) and helped introduce generics to Java (theory into practice). He was a major designer of Haskell, and his ideas have influenced numerous other languages including C#, F#, Go, Rust, Scala, and Swift. 

Recognition by peers always makes one proud and humble. It is warming to have a paper accepted for publication, and more so when someone takes your idea and carries it further. Election as a Fellow at the Royal Society means as much to me as anything in my career. It is especially meaningful because many of my colleagues who I most admire, at Edinburgh and elsewhere, have previously been made Fellows.

Professor Phil Wadler School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh 

I am delighted to welcome our newest cohort of Fellows.   

These individuals have pushed forward the boundaries of their respective fields and had a beneficial influence on the world beyond.  

Among this year’s intake are individuals who were at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic response, and those working on global challenges, from TB to climate change. They are pioneering scientists and innovators from around the world who have confounded expectations and transformed our thinking.   

This year’s intake have already achieved incredible things, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so. I look forward to meeting them and following their contributions in future.

Sir Adrian SmithPresident of the Royal Society about 2023 fellows
Photograph of Phil Wadler with Edinburgh city view backdrop
Professor Phil Wadler

Fellowships of the Royal Society are granted to individuals who have made a "substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science". Each year, up to 52 new fellows from the United Kingdom, the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations and Ireland are elected. Each candidate is considered on his or her own merits and can be proposed from any sector of the scientific community. 

Fellows are elected for life on the basis of excellence in science and are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRS. 

Related links

Link to University of Edinburgh RSE announcement

Link to Royal Society fellows announcement