Philip George Burke. 18 October 1932—4 June 2019

Alan Hibbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of theoretical and computational atomic and molecular physics in the second half of the twentieth century owes a great deal to Phil Burke. His knowledge and insight, his enthusiasm and encouragement, his vision and determination were essential characteristics for the success of his work and that of many others. He developed and used the R-matrix method in the study of the interaction between, on the one hand, atoms and molecules and their ions and, on the other, light or electrons. He published many original research papers and was author or editor of a number of books. Especially significant and far-reaching was his setting up of the journal Computer Physics Communications to enable an international field of scientists, initially to share computer codes, but subsequently also to discuss and develop methods in computational physics. While based at the Daresbury Laboratory, he established a number of Collaborative Computational Projects, thus providing a forum for scientists working in specific scientific disciplines to meet periodically to discuss current issues and in particular how the ever advancing cutting-edge of high-end computing could begin to address previously intractable problems. A consequence was his clarity of thinking about which new computer architectures were needed to make significant advances in each field of study, expertly guiding the UK's provision of high-end computers to academia for over 20 years. He was a clear and methodical teacher, at both graduate and undergraduate level, and was generous with the time he gave to his students. In short, he demonstrated a balanced level of excellence in all aspects of his career. He was a consummate academic and a fine role model for his colleagues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-77
Number of pages21
JournalBiographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 24 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • General Medicine


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