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J. S. Rollett (1927 - 1994)

Dr John Sydney Rollett received his first degree from Cambridge University and his PhD in chemistry in 1952 at the University of Leeds. He was a lecturer in Numerical Methods in the Computing Lab at Oxford University, and was a founding member of St Cross College Oxford.

He was one of the early pioneers in crystallographic computing, when every "bit" of storage had to be conserved, and part of the art of computing was to synchronize the math with the mechanics of the hardware. He was always keen that mathematical methods should push current hardware to its limits, and in recent years had been much involved with Transputers.

John was very much a part of the history and folk lore of crystallography. He will be long remembered for his lucid lectures on least-squares and other numerical techniques. His writings are a contining source of inspiration; papers he wrote 30 years ago are still fresh and contain insights which folks are only now beginning to appreciate. Much of what he knew or discovered was never formally published, but was encoded in programs he designed and developed.

His calm, careful attention to detail made his advice invaluable on every topic. He was always cheerful, he was always enthusiastic. He was most generous with his time, and would happily sit down and carefully explain to a student some concept which he himself must have found quite trivial. His knowledge shone through his modesty. His wickedly early death is a grave blow to science, an irreplaceable loss to his friends.

David Watkin