Computer Science News

Tribute to Professor John Campbell

The Department of Computer Science is saddened by the passing of John Campbell, who retired from UCL as a Professor of Computer Science some years ago. Members of the department past and present reflect on his contribution to the Department, and to Computer Science, in the below:


 "Professor Campbell was my advisor during what should be one year "sandwich" period in 1996 during my 3rd year of UFRGS Doctoral program in Brazil. During my stay in London, my advisor in Brazil found out he had cancer and could not continue with my supervision. John helped me to redirect my thesis and kept my supervision through long, patient, diary messages (this was before Skype or WhatsApp) until I had completed the work. I went back to London for one month at the end of the doctoral period, moved to his office and got his full attention to finalise my thesis volume that was carefully PORTUGUESE! The extensive exchange of messages became a large and warm discussion about politics, culture, family, life and ethics.. I have kept and cherished each of the messages. Each supervision that I lead today has the flavor of his advice and behaviour; I listen to myself rephrasing his words. I hope to one day deserve his legacy!" - Professor Mara Abel, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

 "Prof. John Campbell was my PhD supervisor at UCL back in the '90s. There were so many striking aspects of his personality, foremost the fact that he had amusing stories to tell on absolutely any subject whatsoever. He seemed to have visited every single country on the planet, read every book ever published, and able to speak all languages. And of course he knew everything about AI and computer science (and the other sciences), as well as sports, politics, and all the rest of it. His reading speed was definitely super-human, still nothing short of infinite kindness and perfectionism could explain the patience with which he corrected my writing at the time. I learnt so much with him, both technically and as a person, that the news of his passing has saddened me profoundly. He will be much missed by everyone who had the pleasure and the privilege of having known him." - Rafael Bordini, PUCRS (Brazil)

 "Back in the days when moving money around the world was difficult and costly I needed to pay a smallish sum to someone in, I think, Yugoslavia. John offered to help as he had an account there. I asked whether this was a service he could provide world-wide. The answer seemed to be pretty much "yes". A truly international citizen!

Second it was John who introduced me, and I suspect several others in the Department, to a new search engine - called Google." - Graham Knight, UCL Computer Science

 "John was an intensely erudite man, who wore his learning and experience lightly - without a trace of the arrogance that often accompanies it. A kind, thoughtful and thought-provoking man." - Professor Steve Hailes, UCL Computer Science


If you have a message or a memory of John to communicate to his family, please send this by email to and to Professor Steve Hailes via 

Posted 30 May 18 10:17