Elected: 1996
Discipline: Informatics, Mathematics and Statistics
Professor George Alistair Watson FRSE

Former Professor of Numerical Analysis, University of Dundee.

Alistair Watson grew up in Perthshire, attending Grandtully Primary School and later Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, where he was School Captain and Joint Dux. With an aptitude for Maths and Science, he set his sights on studying Engineering at University, intending to become an aeronautical engineer, only to be told by his science teacher, “engineers are ten a penny; do pure science”. He followed this advice, “describing it as the only piece of career advice I ever got” by applying to Edinburgh and Glasgow to study Physics. He was drawn to Edinburgh University (partly because of his support for Hibernian FC) and accepted that offer, commencing his degree in 1960. After two years, he decided he preferred Maths to Physics and switched to a degree in Mathematical Sciences. During his third year, he had a choice between Numerical Analysis and Statistics. Having tried both for a while, he opted to continue with the numerical analysis option, covering topics including rounding errors, interpolation, orthogonal expansions, Fourier and Chebyshev series, finite differences, various difference operators, numerical integration, initial value problems for ordinary differential equations, iterative methods for solving equations, the power method for eigenvalue problems, and Gaussian elimination. He graduated in 1964 with a first-class Honours degree in Mathematical Sciences. Read more about Alistair Watson