Dr Alistair I. Watson

Alistair Watson died last Thursday. He had worked in Physics, in Psychology and in Environmental Science at Stirling University , from where he retired quite some time ago. But my recollections of him start from the Stirling University Vision Group days of the mid 1980’s.

I started at Stirling University in September 1984, with a PhD, and (officially) interests in parallel computing and VLSI design. But what actually happened was that I met up with a group of slightly older researchers at Stirling and we formed (perhaps it was already formed, and I joined it) Stirling University Vision Group. There was Bill Phillips from Psychology, Francis Pratt, the artist (who had earlier been Cottrell Fellow at Stirling University), Alistair Watson, and myself. I had a lot to learn – and these were people from whom I learned a lot. The artist’s perspective on image analysis, how multi-dimensional signals from satellites could be analysed like images, ideas from neural systems, mathematical morphology, computational neuroscience. The new ideas that were invading Computing, now that the machines were becoming more powerful and affordable, and the computational ideas that were invading Psychology and art. For me these were really exciting times, and were the basis upon which my own later work has been placed.

Of course Alistair was more than just a colleague: he was excellent company (particularly over a few pints of good real ale – though I could never keep up with him), with a ready wit and an excellent sense of humour. I know he played piano as well, though I never heard him play. I shall miss his company, his conversation, and his intelligence and wit.

He is survived by his wife, Janet, and children Peter and Lucy.


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