Lancaster University

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Professor Emlyn Lloyd

06/13/2008 09:39:46

Emlyn Howard Lloyd was born in 1918 in Aberdare, then a thriving town, part of the huge South Wales coal industry. His is an almost clichéd story of a beloved only child, son of an active trade union mining father and fervent chapel choir singing mother. Through their determination, his own intellectual ability and the schooling of Aberdare Grammar, Emlyn left the Welsh valleys to gain a first class honours degree in mathematics from the university of London in 1938. While he was still a student at Imperial College, very active in socialist politics, he met his wife, Herta, who was a refugee from Vienna. When bombed out of their Bloomsbury flat, they moved to the suburbs, becoming part of a large circle of emigrés and refugees. His four daughters were born there in the period 1942-56.

During the war years, Emlyn was employed by the Ordnance Board and the aircraft industry, and shortly after he was approached to join the staff of Imperial College by George Barnard, whom he knew through the London Labour Club. He took a doctorate on probability theory and mathematical statistics and embarked on his research career. Emlyn established a reputation in stochastic reservoir theory, and published definitively on the sensitivity of the reliability of storage to the various statistics of the input stream – a subject germane to water-challenged parts of Africa. He investigated the long-term properties of the statistics of river flows, and the so-called Hurst phenomenon, an early example of a fractal process. His name is still highly respected in hydrological science, though his work is now also frequently cited in financial journals because of its relevance to the long-range dependence of financial time series.

By the mid 1960’s it was evident to scientists studying the structure of paper that its physical properties were highly dependent on the statistical geometry of its fibres. As a consultant to Wiggins Teape, Emlyn developed with Heinz Corte, the theory that allowed papermakers to calculate the optimum uniformity that can be achieved in a sheet formed from fibres of a given type. The equations resulting form this pioneering research are still taught to students of paper technology around the world, and his work continues to be applied to new materials of fibrous networks.

In 1964 Emlyn left Imperial College to come to Lancaster as the founding professor of mathematics. With his courteous and charming manner, coupled with mental acuity, he was very active in university affairs, being principal of Lonsdale College from 1967 to 1982, and a member of the Senate and associated committees throughout his entire period of service at Lancaster. He retired from the university as professor emeritus in September 1982. Two of the academic disciplines of the department that he established, Mathematical Analysis and Statistics, continue to be its main strength. His personal qualities and eloquence of expression (though not his legibility of writing) were no doubt a factor in a successful bid during the 70’s, for a professorial fellow in applied statistics, funded by the Social Science Research Council. This required his co-ordination of research groups in a wide range of university departments and the legacy of this achievement is evident in many of the University’s present research strengths, including the standing of the statistics group among the top three in the country, which greatly pleased Emlyn in his later years.

Emlyn was a charming, cultured man, passionate about literature, music and arts. He and Herta enjoyed an active retirement until she became incapacitated as a consequence of osteoporosis. His devotion to Herta was evident in the last years of his life, spent caring cheerfully and uncomplainingly for a very ill partner, even when he himself was weakened following surgery for cancer. In the months since her death, he increasingly relied on his daughters and regularly carers to whom he endeared himself by his welcoming smile and cheerful manner. He is survived by his four daughters, 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.